Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry push film ‘Precious’

Toronto festivalLee Daniels has an Oscar-winning movie to his credit, but he still needed some big-time help to draw attention to his latest film about a girl who overcomes crushing abuse.

He got it from Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry: The two are executive producers of “Precious,” which had a premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Winfrey said she was happy to help bring more attention to the film.

“Everyone needs someone to help them navigate,” the TV talk show host explained. “I had Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and Maya Angelou who I look to. You can’t do that on your own. Someone has to show it to you.”

Daniels produced “Monster’s Ball,” which won Halle Berry an Oscar for best actress in 2002. She adapted “Precious” from Sapphire’s novel “Push.” It tells the story of an illiterate black girl who manages to rise above poverty, sexual and mental abuse. The film, which stars Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton and others, won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and has been generating Oscar buzz.

Still, Daniels believes the cachet of Oprah and hit filmmaker Perry will help the film, which comes out on Nov. 6, build a greater audience.

Perry’s latest movie, the comedy “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” opened at the top of the box office this weekend. Besides directing and writing the film, based on his stage play of the same name, Perry co-stars as his brash, cross-dressing alter ego, Madea. Perry’s “Madea Goes to Jail” also opened at No. 1 in February.

“My movies are art films. So many people don’t see art films. People do see Oprah and Tyler’s movies and they do hear Oprah’s word, so it is really good,” Daniels said.

Carey, Patton, and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who plays the title role, gathered at a private cocktail reception prior to the movie’s Toronto premiere where they later joined Winfrey on the red carpet.

“I couldn’t wait to get here because I love it so much and I couldn’t wait to see it again. I am just really excited,” said Carey.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.