As I have said before, it’s important for writers to learn as much as possible about studio execs and producers — how their minds operate.
This interview is with Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman (along with his brother Bob) of The Weinstein Company.
DEADLINE: You and Scott Rudin (producer of The Social Network) are the faces of this Oscar race. How is it you two always end up adversaries?
WEINSTEIN: I’m revealing this to Deadline: Scott and I have worked this whole thing out. I’ve gone to dinner with him three times this week, and I’ve got to tell you, he makes the greatest Baked Tagliolini I’ve ever had, better than Cipriani. We sit around the campfire, me and Scott, and go, ‘How can those writers be such suckers and believe this about us?’ Because we’ve worked it out. I said, ‘Scott, you win the critics’ awards. I’ll win the big one.’ Do you realize the publicity value Scott brought The Reader when he withdrew? I could never have afforded that P&A. We secretly work these things out. And I’m helping him on The Social Network. I’m the classic case of that guy who can’t even figure out the Blackberry standing as a symbol for all those ignorant people.
DEADLINE: There’s a famous story that when you clashed on The Hours over whether to hide Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose in the ads, Scott sent you cartons of cigarettes after you’d quit smoking.
WEINSTEIN: The nose thing on The Hours was definitely a source of contention with Scott. But listen, the movie worked. It won. Scott left me out of the Golden Globe acceptance speech that year, but I’m sure that was unintentional. At least, I’d like to think so. I’m hoping. He told me it was. Maybe he got nervous. I guess the implication of the cigarettes was that he wanted me to smoke again after three years or not smoking. But I take it in the spirit in which it was intended. Scott has a great sense of humor. I think he was kidding. He’s a tremendous producer, and I have a lot of respect for him. And a fierce competitor. But we’ve worked it out, like I said. I’m not doing a movie next year, he is, and I will take the following year. We’re going to alternate because this is just too much.
Competition: If you’ve read each of the interviews this week, you will have noticed how glowingly each studio exec speaks of their rivals’ movies. So it’s nice to read about Weinstein who is infamous for many reasons, including some of the campaigns he has allegedly been behind to promote his movies for the Oscars. Here is an excerpt from Weinstein’s Wikipedia page:
Weinstein’s efforts to campaign for Oscars for his films during Oscar season led to the a ban on such campaigns by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In a 2004 piece in New York magazine, Weinstein appeared somewhat repentant for his often aggressive discussions with directors and producers. However, an October 13, 2008 Newsweek story criticized Weinstein, who was accused of “hassling Sydney Pollack on his deathbed” about the release of the film The Reader. After Weinstein offered $1 million to charity if the accusation could be proven, journalist Nikki Finke published an August 22 email by Scott Rudin asserting that Weinstein “harassed” Anthony Minghella’s widow and a bedridden Pollack until Pollack’s family asked him to stop.
I seriously doubt someone could be a successful movie studio executive if they weren’t in some fashion a competitive person. This pertains not only to box office success, but also who sits at what table at which hot eatery, whose car gets parked where by valets when they stack the lot, whose move premiere is splashier, whose kids get into what private super in-demand elementary school, and so on.
This can pay off for a screenwriter if they write a hot spec script because there’s nothing like the competitive fires of rival studios to jack up the price of that script in a bidding war. If you write something multiple studios want, you are gold. And if say Warner Bros. buys your script, beating Sony and Universal, you can be sure the first two calls to your reps about meetings will be Sony and Universal, so they can get in on the ground floor of your next project.
For more of the Deadline interview with Harvery Weinstein, go here.