If you're wondering just how far the nearly insolvent ex-mogul Harvey Weinstein has fallen, here's a handy metric: He can't even stop a Canadian filmmaker from making an unauthorized documentary about what a gargantuan dick he is. A Canadian!
According to the New York Times, Barry Avrich, a documentarian who last made a movie about uber-agent Lew Wasserman, has secured $1 million in funding for Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project, which promises to be a "powerful, uncensored account of a brilliant, feared, charming and yet loathsome character." Avrich is Canadian, and the money comes from Movie Network and Movie Central, two Canadian companies.
As the title suggests, Weinstein is not cooperating with the project, which is in itself a remarkable development: There was a time when Weinstein could have gotten a pesky little filmmaker like Avrich shut down in a day with either a phone call to his backers or a sweeter offer of his own. Here's how David Carr put described Weinstein's facility for either bullying his critics or buying them off in a 2001 New York profile:
As the keeper of star-making machinery, Weinstein has re-engineered the media process so that he lives beyond its downsides. His other assets-a book-publishing company and a working knowledge of the frailties of most reporters-mean that when Weinstein acts like a numbskull at Cannes, he gets a pass.
A. J. Benza, who held Weinstein harmless when he was a gossip at the Daily News, has a book on Talk-Miramax that will become a movie. Liz Smith calls him the Irving Thalberg of our age, and Weinstein reciprocates by giving her a steady taste of star quotage. Rush and Molloy can't blurb one of his actors without mentioning how "critically acclaimed" his last project was.
"He owns you guys, all of you," bitches one West Coast film executive. "All media is controlled out of New York, and he is the king. He has the kind of Teflon none of us can understand."
His shadow was so long a decade ago that even actual photographs of Weinstein assaulting then-New York Observer Andrew Goldman never saw the light of day:
"You know what? It's good that I'm the fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town." Weinstein said that to Andrew Goldman, then a reporter for the New York Observer, when he took him out of a party in a headlock last November after there was a tussle for Goldman's tape recorder and someone got knocked in the head. Weinstein deputized himself and insisted that Goldman apologize. His hubris would be hilarious if he weren't able to back it up. Several paparazzi got pictures of the tussle, but Goldman bet me at the time that they would never see print.
I mailed him his dollar a week later.
No more. According to the Times, Weinstein tried some of his old tricks on Avrich, but they appear to have lacked the force that they once carried now that they're coming from a debt-ridden and increasingly desperate producer who can barely gather together enough scratch to release his next film and can't afford to buy back the company he named after his parents. Weinstein seems to have had some success in convincing American firms to stay away—"Over the last several months, Mr. Avrich said, he has unsuccessfully sought advance backing from American film distributors"—but his tentacles are too weak to make it across our northern border.
And Weinstein's efforts to throw Avrich off course just sound pathetic:
Initially, Mr. Avrich said, Mr. Weinstein advised him not to make the movie. Later Mr. Weinstein suggested that Mr. Avrich make a film instead about Arthur Krim, the onetime head of Orion Pictures, who died in 1994.
Finally Mr. Weinstein told Mr. Avrich that Quentin Tarantino was considering a competing project that would chronicle Mr. Weinstein's professional life, which has ranged from work as a concert promoter in Buffalo, through the heyday of Miramax, which released hits like "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love," and beyond.
Paula Woods, a spokeswoman for Mr. Tarantino, said Mr. Tarantino had told her that he and the Weinsteins were "unofficially kicking around the idea" of a Weinstein documentary.
Yes, Quentin Tarantino is going to make a documentary about Harvey Weinstein to bury Avrich's little project. And if you keep saying mean things about him, Harvey will totally get this huge guy he knows to beat you up, so just stop, OK?