— In the midst of recruiting an all-star ensemble for his long-gestating passion project “The Butler,” director Lee Daniels has tapped Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan.
Based on a Washington Post report by Wil Haygood, pic follows Eugene Allen, the White House butler whose career started with Harry Truman in 1952 and ended in 1986 with Ronald Reagan.
Forest Whitaker is closing a deal to play Allen, while Oprah Winfrey remains in talks to play his wife. David Oyelowo is in negotiations to play Allen’s son, while Liam Neeson and John Cusack are circling presidential supporting roles as Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, respectively. Fonda will appear in a handful of scenes as the first lady of the United States.
Daniels, who is directing from a script he co-wrote with Danny Strong, is in the process of finalizing financing for the pic, which has no distributor onboard yet. Pamela Williams will produce through Laura Ziskin Prods. along with Hilary Shor.
Though no cast deals are in place yet, producers are eyeing a summer start date.
Fonda, who was last seen opposite Lindsay Lohan in Garry Marshall’s “Georgia Rule,” next stars in Bruce Beresford’s “Peace, Love and Misunderstanding,” which IFC Films opens in limited release on June 8.