The average producer prefers invisibility, hiding behind the scenes while the actors and directors hog the limelight. Harvey Weinstein is not your average producer. Arguably the most powerful, well-known producer and studio exec working in Hollywood today, the co-founder of Miramax and co-head honcho of the Weinstein Company has more than 200 films to his name, including beloved Academy-Award winners like Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient and Good Will Hunting. In fact, the hungrily ambitious Mr. Weinstein is known as Hollywood’s No. 1 Oscar campaigner for his aggressive pursuit of statue gold; for Mr. Weinstein, a year with only one Oscar-nominated film is a slow year. This year the box office reads like a list of the Weinsteins’ accomplishments, with groundbreaking pictures like Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained and The Master all owing their realization to the Miramax moguls.
While Bob Weinstein has been content to remain behind the scenes, quietly nurturing lucrative franchises (Bob has been widely seen as the force behind the Scream and Spy Kids franchises), Harvey Weinstein earned the right to seek recognition and glory for the brothers’ productions. By discovering new generations of filmmakers and making accessible films previously limited by mall-killing tags like “art house” or “indie,” the Weinsteins have redefined the tastes of America’s mass moviegoing audience.
The 1989 release of Steven Soderbergh’s debut, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, launched Miramax’s status as America’s top independent studio and kicked off a string of indie success stories that would culminate in the industry-shaking 1993 purchase of Miramax by Disney and the release of Miramax’s first blockbuster, Pulp Fiction. By the time they left Disney to found the Weinstein Company in 2005, the Weinstein name was cemented as a Hollywood institution. The Flushing, New York, natives’ peerless vision, ambition, fearlessness and risk-taking in the face of harsh criticism write a definitive New York success story.