5 Minor Revelations From the NYT's Weinstein Company Death Watch


The New York Times on Sunday published the definitive piece on the bleak state of the union at the Weinstein Company, where morale (and cash flow) remains low, Harvey is struggling to refocus after his mogul-ADD streak, and theatrical grosses this year are hovering right around $1.3 million. These factors will all likely change this week with the opening of Inglourious Basterds, or at least we should hope they do -- cinema is generally better for having the Weinsteins in it, and they've got to find some way to pay for the release of The Road and Nine later this fall.

By the same token, isn't the Weinstein Company Death Watch kind of... old? Is there anything left to mine in the struggles of a corporation built on the quicksand of bombast and ambition? Most definitely. I actually found the five talking points after the jump (your mileage may vary):

1. The Weinsteins can't control their release schedule, but they can control who covers them and how.

This isn't so much a revelation as much as a nifty new way of saying the same thing. Times-man David Segal seems to have been handpicked to communicate the same old horror story -- they settled out-of-court on Project Runway, Harvey's media dilettantism compromised his film-shepherding prowess, the investors are freaking out, please God let Basterds be a hit, etc. And when he does, with both access and compassion almost despite himself, he has little choice but to acknowledge his anointment as the oracle of the Weinstein Renaissance. Except that Segal attendance at a marketing meeting reveals high hopes for films like Shanghai and Nowhere Boy ("Like old Miramax," Harvey says) -- neither of which actually have release dates scheduled. That might be a journalist's cue to speak up.

2. Goldman Sachs didn't seek Michael Eisner's input in its initial round of TWC fundraising.

Maybe it doesn't really matter, and the equity partners who sunk a half-billion into the company in 2005 would have followed Harvey anywhere after his Miramax run. On second thought, well, no. If the deposed head of Disney who acquired Miramax in the first place and clashed with Harvey for years was capable of expressing sentient thought into a telephone, then any investor smart enough to have money to invest would have gladly solicited his two cents.

3. Bob Weinstein's elbow hurts...

Or something, according to Segal, whom Bob denied a ping-pong match in his office because of elbow pain. It's a shame, too, because Harvey reportedly "cackled and promised to publish an ad hailing the defeat if his brother lost."

4. ...but not enough to override the impression that he'd "strangle someone with his bare hands."

That's a new one even for Bob, a generally funny guy but a notorious mediaphobe with twice his brother's industry acumen and one-tenth of his savvy speaking on the record. The highlight here might be the 20 seconds of seething, frustrated silence following the inquiry, "What is your biggest regret about the Weinstein Company?" Bob finally replies that TWC shouldn't have tried so hard to follow Miramax's model, but the real answer is clear: "You know goddamn good and well that I can't choose just one."

5. It'll all be over by February, anyway.

Harvey himself gave TWC six months to turn things around -- or else:

"The ship's riding on the slate," Harvey says, sounding remarkably buoyant, all things considered. "If by February, when we release Hoodwinked 2" -- he playfully thumps a hand on the table, dramatizing the sound of failure -- "I'll be driving you, or making cheap hamburgers, or selling trailers, or refrigerators, or something. If the slate works, we're right back to plan."

Don't sell yourself short, Harvey. Consider applying at In-and-Out; at least you can still get close to the Vanity Fair Oscar party.

· Weinsteins Struggle to Regain Their Touch [NYT]


  • Ron Mwangaguhunga says:

    I thought Bob Weinstein's bloodless aside that African-American films don't do so well overseas as sucky.