If you’re not aware yet, in addition to the myriad films it distributes, as well as the countless movies screening through its festival, Tribeca Film has also started doing a podcast series. A joint venture with WNYC radio, the podcasts feature fascinating and enlightening conversations with filmmakers and artists, all of which took place at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Recent live-recorded discussions include talks with Spike Lee, Janeane Garofalo and Brad Bird, Catherine Martin, and many others; all clock in somewhere around an hour.
Though not the father of the Tribeca Festival, one of the undeniable cornerstones of lower New York City filmmaking, and of the movie industry in general, is Harvey Weinstein. The savvy, cutthroat, wildly successful studio head has been a staple in filmmaking since he and his brother Bob, and their company, Miramax, had their first real hit, “The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball,” released in May 1982. Mike Fleming of Deadline Hollywood sat down with the mogul at TFF this year, and the ensuing podcast offers 53 minutes of Harvey (and Weinstein Company) history.
It’s hard to tell the story of The Weinstein Company (and predecessor Miramax) without including mention of Quentin Tarantino, and vice versa. Since “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino has been Weinstein’s golden poster child, and the Weinsteins Tarantino’s go-to producers. Naturally, the writer-director is Fleming’s first subject of choice with Harvey, who has nothing but praise for the uniquely talented Tarantino. Fleming and Weinstein discuss Tarantino at length, focusing primarily on his abilities as a writer (and touching on why he didn’t direct “True Romance”).
Next, Fleming changes gears, redirecting the conversation toward “Good Will Hunting,” which screened last week as part of the festival’s Sloan Retrospective series. Fleming asks, of all the studios, how did it come to be Miramax’s film? (Other studios were trying to line up Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt to star.) Harvey responds with the following anecdote. During his first meeting with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, he asked them about a perplexing moment in the script, “On page 60, there’s a scene where the two professors perform oral sex on each other. I don’t understand that.” Damon and Affleck signed on with Harvey, because he was the only studio head to ask about the scene, which they had specifically written in simply as a test to see who had actually read the script. Harvey Weinstein was the only studio honcho who passed.
Listen to the full podcast below for more on Weinstein’s personal history, his cinematic interests, studio system history, and Harvey’s incredible knack for turning out Oscar-winning films year after year.