After yesterday's story about a New York magazine critic apologizing to Harvey Weinstein, and the critic's suspect assertion that his apology was independent of the sharp-elbowed former Miramax chief, we heard from a well-placed media veteran who said Weinstein has long loved to brag about his ability to extract such concessions, and in fact about how he effectively owns New York media. It turns out the bragging is not entirely without reason. Said the tipster: "Name any media outlet and there is a 'best friend/recent connection that I [Weinstein] can call to kill stories/get a retraction' from." It didn't take a lot of digging to figure out what the source meant. A quick rundown of Weinstein's top-of-the-masthead connections:
Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair: Carter's clashes with Weinstein were detailed in Ken Auletta's 2002 profile of the movie mogul in the New Yorker, for which Carter supplied some unflattering quotes. But the two made up: Weinstein and his Miramax Books advanced $1 million for a hardcover history of Carter's Spy Magazine, published in 2006 (the party photo at left, featuring Weinstein and Carter, was taken at a launch event for the book). When Weinstein wed fashion designer Georgina Chapman, Carter attended. The rehearsal dinner was held at Carter's restaurant, Waverly Inn.
Anna Wintour, Vogue: Met with Weinstein and his then-girlfriend Chapman about possible Vogue coverage of Chapman's fashion line. The gossip, as relayed by Page Six, was that Weinstein insinuated he could provide celebrities for cover shots in exchange for Vogue coverage of Chapman's fashion line. The line appeared several times in the magazine, and a Vogue rep confirmed to Page Six that a meeting occurred and that Wintour provided advice to Weinstein's aspiring fashionista, but said no deal was struck. Wintour also attended Weinstein's wedding.
Mort Zuckerman, Daily News, US News: Joined with Weinstein and others to bid on New York magazine in 2003. Also in the syndicate were financiers Jeffrey Epstein and Nelson Peltz, among others. Zuckerman also attended Weinstein's wedding.
For a fuller sense of Weinstein's connections, check out copious coverage of the guest list at his December wedding, which in addition to Murdoch, Wintour and Zuckerman drew network chiefs Les Moonves and Jeff Zucker and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels.
The mogul also makes his power felt further down the media food chain, where he can wow reporters with Hollywood glitz. David Carr said in the opening of a 2001 New York profile of Weinstein that the celebrities surrounding the mogul made Carr feel like "I'm in - kind of, temporarily, a member of the downtown tribe of Miramax."
At Fortune, Tim Arango opened a June 2007 Weinstein profile by recreating his trip with the mogul down the French Riviera in the back of "a midnight-blue Peugot." The pair drove past movie fans in Cannes, France, apparently on their way to a movie screening.
Arango went on to detail less glamorous - and less flattering - anecdotes, starting with how Weinstein's investors had just stepped up their oversight of his new company and were worried about management misfires. Weinstein's media influence, whatever he imagines it to be, has its limits.