It seems the film career, the professional career of Harvey Weinstein is coming to a crushing end, with the volatile head honcho of The Weinstein Company finally in trouble with the law. But it is not how we thought it would go down, no, women, several women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault, improper behaviour, promises of movies and Oscars for sexual favours, just horrific misogynistic behavior.
Weinstein has always been known for his volcanic temper, his fury when things do not go his way, and though there were whispers of sexual issues, no one came forward. How do you accuse a man who holds your career in his hand and can squash you like a bug, just because he feels like it? Former employees often declared their hatred for Weinstein and his brother Bob for their open contempt of the human race, believing they did horrible things for sport.
In Peter Biskinds’ superb book, Dirty Little Pictures, explored the spectacular rise, fall and rise again of the brothers Weinstein in the late eighties and through the new century. They created Miramax, named for their mother and father, and established themselves quickly, buying films for distribution. The Crying Game (1992) made them serious players, as they managed to keep the secret of the film just that long after the film had been released. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and made a small fortune for them, but the Best was yet to come. The following year they released The Piano (1993) to enormous acclaim, and further Oscar attention, winning three. As his stock was rising, he was learning to play the Oscar game. It was Weinstein that started the annual ritual of screeners, back then videotapes sent to Academy members, guilds, and critics at the end of the year to keep the film in the minds of the voters or remind them of the picture. But he also earned the nick name Harvey Scissorhands, sometimes buying a film, then demanding edits to the film before they would release it.
Perhaps his boldest and greatest move was becoming a movie maker as opposed to just a distributor. Stunned when he read Pulp Fiction (1994) he gave an up and coming Director named Quentin Tarantino a chance and full freedom to make his masterpiece. Pulp Fiction (1994) cost just under eight million dollars and became the first independent film to gross over two hundred million dollars. That is more money than anyone ever needs, and the Weinstein bathed in it. The best houses, restaurants, hotels, they took everything yet paid their employees next to nothing.
Miramax became the place to be, the little studio that filmmakers were drawn too, with promises of Oscar nominations and strong marketing. What Harvey promised he delivered with uncanny consistency.