Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein

Born: March 19, 1952
Age: 72
Birthplace: Flushing, New York, U.S.
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Harvey Weinstein, CBE (born March 19, 1952) is an American film producer and film studio executive. He is best known as co-founder of Miramax. He and his brother Bob have been co-chairmen of The Weinstein Company, their film production company, since 2005. He won an Academy Award for producing Shakespeare in Love, and garnered seven Tony Awards for producing a variety of winning plays and musicals, including The Producers, Billy Elliot the Musical, and August: Osage County.


Education and early career

Weinstein was born in Flushing, New York. He was raised in a Jewish family, the son of Max Weinstein, a diamond cutter, and Miriam (Postal). He grew up with his younger brother, Bob Weinstein, in a housing co-op named Electchester in New York City. He graduated from John Bowne High School, and then the University at Buffalo.

Weinstein, his brother Bob, and Corky Burger, independently produced rock concerts as Harvey & Corky Productions in Buffalo through most of the 1970s. Both Weinstein brothers had grown up with a passion for movies and they nurtured a desire to enter the film industry. In the late 1970s, using profits from their concert promotion business, the brothers created a small independent film distribution company called Miramax, named after their parents - Miriam and Max. The company's first releases were primarily music-oriented concert films such as Paul McCartney's Rockshow.

In the early 1980s Miramax acquired the rights to two British films of benefit shows filmed for the human rights organization Amnesty International. Working closely with Martin Lewis, the producer of the original films, the Weinstein brothers edited the two films into one movie tailored for the American market. The resulting film was released as The Secret Policeman's Other Ball in May 1982 and it became Miramax's first hit. The movie raised considerable sums for Amnesty International and was credited by Amnesty with having helped to raise its profile in the United States.

Further development of Miramax

The Weinsteins slowly built upon this success throughout the 1980s with arthouse films that achieved critical attention and modest commercial success. Harvey Weinstein and Miramax gained wider attention in 1988 with the release of Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line which detailed the struggle of Randall Adams, a wrongfully convicted inmate sentenced to death row. The publicity that soon surrounded the case resulted in the release of Adams and nationwide publicity for Miramax. In 1989, their successful launch release of Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape propelled Miramax to become the most successful independent studio in America.

Also in 1989, Miramax released two art-house films, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and director Pedro Almodóvar's film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, both of which the MPAA rating board gave an X-rating, effectively stopping nationwide release for these films. Weinstein sued the MPAA over the rating system. His lawsuit was later thrown out, but got the MPAA to agree to introduce the new NC-17 rating.

Miramax continued to grow its library of films and directors until, in 1993, after the success of The Crying Game, Disney offered the Weinsteins $80 million for ownership of Miramax. Agreeing to the deal that would cement their Hollywood clout and ensure that they would remain at the head of their company, Miramax followed the next year with their first blockbuster, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and distributed the popular independent film Clerks.

Miramax won its first Academy Award for Best Picture in 1997 with the victory of The English Patient (Pulp Fiction was nominated in 1995 but lost to Forrest Gump). This started a string of critical successes that included Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Good Will Hunting (1997).

The Weinstein Company

On March 29, 2005, it was announced that the Weinstein brothers would leave Miramax on September 30 to form their own production company, named The Weinstein Company with several other media executives, directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and Colin Vaines, who had successfully run the production department at Miramax for ten years and moved with the brothers to head development in the Weinstein company.

The new studio immediately garnered Academy Award nominations for Transamerica and Mrs Henderson Presents, and box office success through Hoodwinked! and Scary Movie 4.

The Weinstein Co. acquired U.S. rights to the film The Oath of Tobruk, a documentary about the 2011 Libyan revolution, in 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Praise and criticism

In 2004, Weinstein was appointed an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his contributions to the British film industry (the award being "honorary" because he is a citizen of the United States).

While lauded for opening up the independent film market and making it financially viable, Weinstein has been criticized by some for the techniques he has allegedly applied in his business dealings. Peter Biskind's book, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film, details criticism of Miramax's release history and editing of Asian films, such as Shaolin Soccer, Hero and Princess Mononoke. There is a rumour that when Harvey Weinstein was charged with handling the U.S. release of Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki sent him a samurai sword in the post. Attached to the blade was a stark message: "No cuts". Miyazaki commented on the incident: "Actually, my producer did that. Although I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts. I defeated him." Weinstein has always insisted that such editing was done in the interest of creating the most financially viable film. "I'm not cutting for fun", Harvey Weinstein said in an interview. "I'm cutting for the shit to work. All my life I served one master: the film. I love movies."

Another example cited by Biskind was Phillip Noyce's The Quiet American, whose release Weinstein delayed following the September 11 attacks, due to audience reaction in test screenings to the film's critical tone towards America's past foreign policy. After being told the film would go straight-to-video, Noyce planned to screen the film in Toronto International Film Festival in order to mobilize critics to pressure Miramax to release it theatrically. Weinstein decided to screen the film at the Festival only after he was lobbied by star Michael Caine, who threatened to boycott publicity for another film he had made for Miramax. The film received mostly positive reviews at the Festival, and Miramax eventually released the film theatrically, but it was alleged that Miramax did not make a major effort to promote the film for Academy Award consideration, though Caine was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Weinstein's efforts to campaign for Oscars for his films during Oscar season led to a ban on such campaigns by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Weinstein has also cultivated a reputation for ruthlessness and fits of anger. According to Biskind, Weinstein once put a New York Observer reporter in a headlock while throwing him out of a party. On another occasion, Weinstein excoriated director Julie Taymor and her husband during a disagreement over a test screening of her movie Frida.

In a 2004 piece, in New York magazine, Weinstein appeared somewhat repentant for his often aggressive discussions with directors and producers. However, a Newsweek story on October 13, 2008, 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 email sent by Scott Rudin on August 22 asserting that Weinstein "harassed" Anthony Minghella's widow and a bedridden Pollack until Pollack's family asked him to stop.

In September 2009, Weinstein publicly voiced opposition to efforts to extradite Roman Polanski from Switzerland to the U.S. regarding 1977 charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old, to which Polanski had pleaded guilty before fleeing the country. Weinstein, whose company had distributed a film about the Polanski case, questioned whether Polanski committed any crime, prompting Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to insist that Polanski's guilty plea indicated that his action was a crime, and that several other serious charges were pending.

In November 2011, independent filmmaker Michael Bartlett blamed Weinstein for the poor quality of his film, World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries, citing pressure from Weinstein to deliver the film ahead of schedule. When Weinstein said, "This is the date you will deliver the film and if it isn't finished then we'll finish it for you", the post production was rushed and the editing and sound mix were not completed properly.

In March 2012 Weinstein was made a Chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Consulate in New York City in recognition of Miramax's efforts to increase the presence and popularity of foreign films in the United States.

In April 2012, Time magazine included Weinstein in its annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In 2013, New York Post film critic Kyle Smith accused Harvey Weinstein of making numerous anti-Catholic films, including Priest (1994), The Butcher Boy (1997), The Magdalene Sisters (2002), and Philomena (2013).


Weinstein is also active on issues such as poverty, AIDS, juvenile diabetes, and multiple sclerosis research. He serves on the Board of the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City-based non-profit that targets poverty, and co-chaired one of its annual benefits.

Weinstein is a supporter of the American Democratic Party and is critical of the lack of gun control laws and universal health care in the United States. He received press coverage for his support of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2012 he hosted an election fundraiser for President Obama at his home in Westport, Connecticut. In 2013, he expressed support of President Barack Obama amid criticism for the launch of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has expressed favorable opinions about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Legal problems

In February 2009, former Sam & Dave singer Samuel David Moore filed suit against Harvey and Bob Weinstein for allegedly basing Soul Men, a Weinstein Co. comedy starring Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson, on Sam & Dave's career.

In February 2011, filmmaker Michael Moore took legal action against the Weinstein brothers, claiming he was owed millions in profits for his 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. In February 2012, Moore dropped the lawsuit for an undisclosed settlement.

Depictions in media

Harvey Weingard, a character portrayed by Maury Chaykin on the HBO TV series Entourage, is based on Weinstein. Although the character is portrayed as an intimidating and aggressive producer, Weinstein has reportedly responded positively to the character. The foul-mouthed character Malcolm Tucker in the BBC series The Thick of It is based on Hollywood agents and producers, notably Harvey Weinstein and the team at Miramax that has been "long celebrated for Malcolm-like behavior", according to actor Peter Capaldi.

Personal life

Weinstein has been married twice:

  • In 1987, he married his assistant Eve Chilton. They divorced in 2004. They had three children: Remy (previously Lily) (born 1995), Emma (born 1998), and Ruth (born 2002).
  • In 2007, he married English fashion designer and actress Georgina Chapman. They have a daughter, India Pearl (born 2010) and a son, Dashiell (born 2013).

On August 20, 2012, Vivek Shah was arrested for the attempted extortion of Weinstein, Chris Cline, and three other unnamed individuals. Shah demanded millions of dollars be wired to an offshore bank account or he would murder the family members of each recipient of his extortion letters. A seven-count felony indictment against Shah was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in September 2012. Shah was convicted in September 2013, and sentenced to over seven years prison.

Selected filmography

This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.


Year Film Notes
1981 The Burning
1982 The Secret Policeman's Other Ball Documentary
1985 Deep End Documentary
1986 Playing for Keeps also writer
1988 Light Years a.k.a. Gandahar (English Version)
1998 Shakespeare in Love Academy Award for Best Picture
BAFTA Award for Best Film
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Satellite Award for Best Film - Musical or Comedy
Nominated - Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
2000 Malèna Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language
2002 Gangs of New York Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Film
Nominated - Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture; co-producer (uncredited)
2009 Nine Satellite Award for Best Film - Musical or Comedy
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
2011 My Week with Marilyn Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best British Film
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
2013 One Chance


Year Film Notes
1986 Playing for Keeps also producer
1987 The Gnomes’ Great Adventure

Executive producer

Year Film Notes
1989 Scandal co-executive producer
The Lemon Sisters co-executive producer
1990 Hardware
Strike It Rich
Crossing the Line co-executive producer
1991 Madonna: Truth or Dare
1992 Reservoir Dogs
1993 True Romance
The Hour of the Pig
1994 Pulp Fiction co-executive producer
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Il Postino: The Postman Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
1995 Kids
The Crossing Guard
1996 The English Patient Academy Award for Best Picture
Flirting with Disaster
Jane Eyre
The Crow: City of Angels
1997 Jackie Brown
Good Will Hunting Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Princess Mononoke English-language version
Scream 2
Air Bud
1998 Phantoms
Wide Awake
1999 The Cider House Rules Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
2000 Down to You
Scream 3
Love's Labour's Lost
Committed (2000 film)
Scary Movie
Chocolat Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
The Yards
Dracula 2000
2001 The Others
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Spy Kids
Texas Rangers
Scary Movie 2
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
2001, 2003, 2005 Project Greenlight Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program
2002 Chicago Academy Award for Best Picture
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Waking Up in Reno
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
2003 Cold Mountain
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Academy Award for Best Picture
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
My Boss's Daughter
Scary Movie 3
Bad Santa co-executive producer
The Human Stain
2003-2004 Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2
2004 Jersey Girl
Ella Enchanted
Fahrenheit 9/11
The Aviator Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Finding Neverland Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Shall We Dance?
2004-present Project Runway Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
2005 Sin City
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D
The Brothers Grimm
2006 Clerks II
Scary Movie 4
Breaking and Entering
Miss Potter
School for Scoundrels
2007 Grindhouse
The Mist
Who's Your Caddy?
The Nanny Diaries
2008 Superhero Movie
The Reader Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Soul Men
2009 Inglourious Basterds Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Halloween II
2010 The King's Speech Academy Award for Best Picture
The Fighter Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
2011 The Artist Academy Award for Best Picture
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
Scream 4
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
Apollo 18
I Don't Know How She Does It
2012 W.E.
Silver Linings Playbook Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Django Unchained Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
2013 Escape from Planet Earth
August: Osage County
Fruitvale Station
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
2014 Vampire Academy
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Big Eyes
Marco Polo
2015 Woman in Gold
The Hateful Eight
2016 War & Peace

Honorary awards

Year Association Award Notes
1996 Britannia Awards Britannia Award for Excellence in Film shared with Bob Weinstein
1997 Gotham Awards Producers Award shared with Bob Weinstein and James Schamus
1998 GLAAD Media Award GLAAD Excellence in Media Award shared with Bob Weinstein
2001 British Independent Film Awards Special Jury Prize shared with Bob Weinstein
2002 British Film Institute British Film Institute Fellowship
2003 Saturn Award Special Award shared with Bob Weinstein
2003 DVD Exclusive Awards Producer Award shared with Bob Weinstein
2013 Producers Guild of America Award Milestone Award shared with Bob Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein supports the following charitable cause: Homeless.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]