Variety reports in typically sycophantic fashion that Harvey Weinstein will bring some of his greatest movie hits to Broadway-starting with Finding Neverland in 2010, followed by a stage version of Pink Floyd's The Wall, Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat, Cinema Paradiso, and Shall We Dance. Weinstein and his brother have "mega" TV plans too. The film producer's entertainment interests-which range from movies to reality television, online social networks, fashion and the theater-seems impressive both in breadth and the financial confidence they would indicate. But don't be fooled.
The Weinsteins' finances aren't nearly as solid as you might think; investors have already told the irascible producer they backed him to make movies rather than pursue multi-media ambitions; and Harvey Weinstein needs to keep his backers happy if he's to maintain the debt finance upon which the mini-studio's slate depends. Hollywood rumor has Goldman Sachs and other investors pulling The Weinstein Co.'s loans if he can't reach the profitability he'd promised this year.
After he sold Miramax to Disney, Harvey Weinstein hated reporting to the entertainment group's CEO Michael Eisner, and chafed under the restrictions of a conglomerate. But the irony is that he's resented the media moguls not so much for their lack of focus as the fact that he wasn't one himself. Even while at Disney, Weinstein backed Tina Brown's Talk magazine and its associated book publishing venture; now nominally independent, he's ranging even more widely, even emulating Disney's Broadway efforts (the cartoons-to-theme-parks combine turned The Lion King into a hit musical).
But Harvey Weinstein offloaded Miramax too early to make much money from the transaction; in terms of personal net worth, the Weinstein brothers are also-rans in the media establishment. 55-year-old Harvey may aspire to the globe-spanning synergistic mix of businesses of Sumner Redstone's Viacom or Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. But he simply don't have independent financial resources. And, if Weinstein continues to play mogul with other people's money, expect that backing to evaporate too.