Harvey Weinstein (Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage)According to a recent poll conducted by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair, 79 percent of Americans don't know who Harvey Weinstein is. In fact, 10 percent of us think Harvey Weinstein was Jimmy Stewart's imaginary rabbit friend (in the movie "Harvey," for whatever percent didn't know that).
But those in and around the circles of Hollywood know the name of Harvey Weinstein extremely well. Weinstein is one of the most powerful producers in the business, a man who inspires both fear and respect as he approaches the soul-crushing wheeling and dealing of the industry with the predatory instincts of an underdog who will never stop feeling like he's got something to prove. He's got a reputation for being rough and ill-tempered, but as the guy who owns the last two winners of the Oscar for Best Picture (and several more over the course of his decades-long career), he's also known as someone who's really, really good at his job.
Weinstein was in Washington D.C. last week to attend the Presidential inauguration, after which he flew to Park City to work his magic at the Sundance Film Festival and sit down with Deadline's Mike Fleming to discuss this year's Oscar contenders. He seems especially pleased with all the attention "Silver Linings Playbook" has been receiving (and, of course, with all the money it's been making) and credits director David O. Russell with making the movie work."The movie's at $58 million now and we're six weeks until the Oscars. 'Silver Linings’ is going to gross $100 million," said Weinstein.
Weinstein is also immensely proud of "Django Unchained," especially after having worked with Quentin Tarantino on every one of his films. Weinstein also says it was he who encouraged the writer-director to not hold anything back when it came to the film's much-debated portrayal of slavery.
"So I'll tell you the truth; if anything I'm the one who said to him, if you really want to show slavery ... show it. The reality was worse than what we put on that screen. Way, way worse."
As for Tarantino not receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Director, Weinstein thinks it might because they just didn't get the movie done on time.
"We finished the movie December 1. We didn't show it until a few days later. The race was early this year: the voting cutoff was January 3. We tried to show it to people in theaters, not on DVD. It's an epic movie and that man put his whole life and heart into this. It's his most important movie, his most important subject matter, and the idea of DVDs stopped me cold. And I stopped them. I wouldn't do it. I delayed them. We sent the DVDs out on December 17."
Weinstein also expressed his love for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" though admits that he may have dropped the ball on how to best market the difficult film.
"I probably could have marketed it better. I probably should have prepared the audience ... I think the audience had trouble with the movie and needed to be guided and eased into it. I was so enamored with the film that I didn’t think the audience would have that trouble. Maybe I would have done [Paul] more of a favor being a devil's advocate instead of a cheerleader. I seem to do better when I'm playing devil's advocate."