Ken Auletta writes in the 12/16/02 issue of The New Yorker that partly because of his bullying, Harvey Weinstein has created the sort of hostility in Hollywood that undid Michael Ovitz. The conventional wisdom is that Weinstein's behavior has worsened as his power has increased.

Auletta writes: "To the petite Snider, [Harvey Weinstein at the 2001 Golden Globes] was a fearsome sight - his eyes dark and glowering, his fleshy face unshaved, his belly jutting forward half a foot or so ahead of his body. He jabbed a finger at Snider's face and screamed, "You're going down for this!""

Harvey blamed Stacey for the story that he was behind a whispering campaign to impugn A Beautiful Mind.

"Last Spring, when Weinstein saw "Frida", he decided that the pace was too slow and that the film was sometimes confusing. After a test screening at an Upper West Side theatre in March, Pauline Sealey-Kitazato, Miramax's director of market research, reported that the test audience liked the film but agreed with Weinstein. Weinstein, standing in front of the theatre's popcorn counter and holding the questionaire results in one hand, seemed briefly out of control. "You are the most arrogant person I have ever met," he said, ripping up the test results and dropping the scraps in front of Taymor, her collaborator and partner, Elliot Goldenthal, and other members of their production team.

"A moment later, Weinstein reappeared; he saw Taymor's agent, Bart Walker, of I.C.M., and yelled at him, "Get the fuck out of here!" To Goldenthal, who wrote the score for "Frida," Weinstein said, "I don't like the look on your face." Then, according to several witnesses, he moved very close to Goldenthal and said, "Why don't you defend her so I can beat the shit out of you?" Goldenthal quickly escorted Taymor away."

Harvey surrounds himself with aides who always have a Diet Coke ready for him whenever he sits down, rip the tops off his packs of Carltons. He smokes several packs a day. Harvey's a viciously abusive boss, as chronicled in the book Wannabe.

Weinstein is driven places in a black Mercedes called the Batmobile. It has four phones with visors that flip down to become small movie screens.

Harvey weighs 250 pounds on his 6' frame, rarely exercises and barely knows how to use a computer. His brother Bob operates Dimension Films, Miramax's profit-making sister division.

Harvey was born in 1952 and Bob in 1954. Their father Max, a diamond cutter, told them to model themselves on the Kennedy brothers.

During college, Harvey became a concert promoter. Max died of a heart attack in 1976.

In 1979, Harvey and Bob created a company called Miraxman, after their parents, Miriam and Max. Miriam served as the receptionist at their first office. Harvey and Bob bought and distributed art films. They broke out with Scandal and Sex, Lies and Videotape, My Left Foot, Cinema Paradiso and The Crying Game.

The success did not make Miramax a nice place to work. Fortune magazine, in 1993, placed the Weinsteins on its list of America's Toughest Bosses.

In the Spring of 1993, the Weinsteins sold Miramax to Disney for between $60-80 million.

Ken Auletta notes in his New Yorker article that while Harvey Weinstein feuds with producers, directors and studio executives, he pampers actors.

In March 1999, Miramax's Shakespeare in Love won the Best Picture Oscar, infuriating Steven Spielberg, director of Saving Private Ryan. Steven believed that Weinstein leaked stories damaging to Private Ryan. Harvey claims he's never leaked any story. He's lying. Weinstein constantly feeds reporters and gossip columnists, taking many to lunch and special screenings. Weinstein got Richard Johnson of Page Six to write a script for the movie Jet Set, which has yet to be made and Johnson claims he hasn't made a penny.

Foxnews.com columnist Roger Friedman made a deal with Miramax to produce and narrate a Miramax music documentary. When Harvey learned that gossip columnist Ian Spiegelman had a collection of short stories, he urged Miramax's publishing house to release them. His editors said no.

In 1999, Weinstein persuaded his publishing house to give a book contract (Insane Clown Posse about Ken Starr) to John Connolly, an investigative journalist working on a piece for Premiere about about Miramax. The book was never published.

Weinstein frequently goes over the heads of reporters who write about him. When David Carr profiled him for New York magazine, Harvey talked to executives at Primedia, which owns the magazine, and Caroline Miller, the editor, trying to get them to tone down the piece, which turned out to be gentle. "He tries to treat profiles, including this one, as if they were a Miramax movie and he were the producer."

Harvey married Miramax employee Eve Chilton in 1987. They have three children.

After coming out of two months in the hospital for a mysterious "bacterial disorder" in early 2000, Weinstein emerged nastier than ever. His business partners frequently used "rape" to describe their dealings with him.

At a book party for a friend in New York, Harvey berated a reporter who asked him about a Miramax project. Andrew Goldman of the New York Observer tried to intervene. Weinstein turned on him, and according to Andrew's tape recording of the incident, Harvey said, "You know what? It's good that I'm the fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town." Weinstein grabbed Goldman in a headlock.

A powerful agent who championed Miramax since the late eighties told Ken Auletta about Harvey: "He was on track to be one of the greats of this business. The degree of narcissism and the number of people he's alienated has caught up with him. What was once charming is now seen as reprehensible."


Brian Shuman writes 12/1/03 :

Dear Luke,

I temped at Miramax for over two years and worked in every department there, including Harvey's office. I was filling in for one of his (at the time) three assistants when Harvey was vacationing in St. Bart's in December 1999. We got the call that he was deathly ill and arranged for the two-flight trip that rushed him back to Teeterborough Airport and then to the hospital. We were fraught with worry and I had to take a limo to Banana Republic to buy warmer clothes for some of Harvey's vacation mates who were on Harvey's plane into New York in late December wearing nothing but their St. Bart's beachware.

Enjoying the professional promiscuity of temping in New York, I have been exposed to over 100 office environments to which I can compare working at Miramax. And from this perspective, I can say that Miramax is indeed a shitty place to work where the only satisfaction that the overworked, underpaid staff derives is from sniffing out acceptable targets for abuse and then passing along what somebody else dumped on them. Also, surprisingly (or maybe not), most people there are cinematically illiterate and are very imposing of their lousy taste in movies on anyone within earshot. With a handful of exceptions, noone at Miramax will ever fulfill whatever goals they had when they signed up to make the sacrifices working there requires you to make and even fewer will ever make a positive contribution to cinema. Their proudest achievements seem to be the number of hours they work and how directly they absorb the odiousness that trickles down from Harvey's office.

BUT, I must take offense to your implication that Harvey was stricken with something other than the bacterial infection that Meryl Poster was dumb enough to inform a member of the press that he had. He was very sick and those of us who knew about it were very worried and, whatever else he might be guilty of, I am very glad that he recovered.