tv Tavis Smiley WHUT December 14, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight take conversation with a man who continues to set the standard for independent film making in america. harvey weinstein. with projects like "my week with marilyn," "coriolanus," and "the iron lady." and his latest, "the artist." it was just named best picture by the new york film critics. we are glad you have joined us. a conversation with harvey weinstein. >> every community has a martin luther king bo all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where
walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] >> it is hard to imagine in this age that anyone would bankroll a silent black-and-white film about a 1920's hollywood.
director of director of the film's lead him america and shoot a movie in los angeles that is black and white and silent. the gamble was his. i came in after the fact. in my case, when i said yes, i went back to my team and my brother and said you have to talk to the board of directors even though we support you. i did not know we had a board of directors. [laughter] after i got through that, i thought the king's speech gave me immunity. apparently not for a black-and- white silent movie. i went before the board of directors and said i am not going to do that until the movie is banished. i showed them the finished
movie. they were ok. tavis: what is it about this film, as i suggested earlier, in the digital era where everybody wants to do a 3d film, why would you believe, or the board believe, that something like this can break through and be successful in this era? >> it is a superb comedy, to " the wall street journal. i agree with that. it is funny as hell. you will laugh and have a great time. just to use another great columnist, maureed dowd wrote about the joy that in this digital age of where everybody
has their blackberry and you are happy there, here is a movie where, in order to pay attention, concentrate, experience i had when i saw an early cut of the movie, the people looked different to me. i was looking at people almost for the first time. i think her column captured the essence of our busy, crazy age and all the sudden, in the middle of that comes this movie. in the los angeles times, kenneth turran said there are too technical marvels, one is "avatar" and "the artist," which uses technology to take us to the past.
it was without the use of facebook and phones. i am there with my kids and sometimes i am not there. that is frustrating for them and for me. this movie will remind you not to do that. you walk out of this seeder, you are fred astaire. tavis: to a phrase you used a moment ago, and you have other films out. i want to talk about the maryland project. to your point, how much of your success has to do with being the anti? you used the word. it seems apropos for the way you approached it. >> i think, i tried to make movies that appeal to me. and also to make something that
is different. i get a kick out of, when some people criticize me and i said, if they only understood the economic reality of what i do. i know they think i do not go far enough. within the limits of running a company, i try too as far as anybody would go. sometimes not even in their right mind. sometimes people sit back and say, oh, my god, could be this or that. i say, are you kidding me? what studio is doing the kind of week we do or sony classics or fox sure -- fox searchlight. they have the money to spare to make those kinds of movies. i take the risk because i believe in the work that we do and i believe in movies. i am a fan.
i want to see something enfft.er last year we made that king's speech. this year there saying a black- and-white movie, a silent movie, you are crazy. [laughter] i don't know. i will probably make the first super hero movie that bombs. tavis: you mentioned the king's speech, you suggested that he thought the success of it might offer you some entitlement. does the level of success you and your brother have achieved, does it ever offer you a sense of entitlement? or is everything, to your point, like starting all over again? >> i do not know crazy like a fox. crazy, definitely.
our industry, i will never forget, i was at the academy awards when mark johnson who produced "rainman" won the oscar,. . as he walked out, it took two hours to get to him. i know because my cart took two hours to get to me. he just won the oscar and looked at that. [laughter] it is not like the car appears immediately. i took that as a metaphor. five minutes later, it is probably the idea of making those movies and struggling to make a great films in five minutes later you are in front of a teen pop star trying to convince them to do something for your movie. maybe it keeps us humble.
otherwise our egos would be inflated. tavis: i want to build this conversation to a question about what you raised now, how it is you have a multiplicity of projects that are all in the race for the academy award. right now, on getting buzz. how is you manage these things successfully to the point of winning the academy award. a couple of projects at once again to. i mentioned the maryland project. i was anxious to see this. i did not wait for the studio who sends me a copy to watch at home or invites me to the lot. i paid my money because i know how desperate you are forecast.
i went to the growth to watch it. i enjoyed it. tell me how i came to be and what your hopes are. >> i read the book about a 23- year-old boy who got to romance marilyn monroe when he was making a movie in 1956. we feature of the week that he and marilyn got close when arthur miller laughter. -- left her. he told the truth about her and her life and she kidnapped him one day. i cannot say the idea of being kidnapped by marilyn monroe -- [laughter] -- did not have a total appeal to my fantasy. i read the script to and machel
signed on to play marathon -- marilyn. if you think financing "the artist" is as courageous as playing marilyn monroe, i do not think it is. parts could have been thrown actor. to the dance came on board in canada and, as sir laurence olivier and this incredible -- and kenneth branaugh came on as serb laurence olivier and this incredible cast. we produced shakespeare in love. the idea of recreating her musical numbers. a skinny dipping scene in the palace where mayor lin and his voice went to windsor castle when they went into the library. afterward they came out and they
went skinny dipping in the late on palace grounds. and it is true. it is fun and entertaining. my mom oasis as i make the king's speech movies, of the "my week with marilyn," and then you blow up everybody in the room in "inglorious bastards." tavis: i get what you mean when you suggested you think the actress took a gamble, it was a courageous move. i think she did a wonderful job. why was it so courageous on her part to sign up for the project? >> everybody has gone down in flames who has played her before. it is impossible to capture her. this was the first girl who read
every book about her like a student at a college with one course, marilyn monroe. she can say anything that marilyn never said. she has a photographic mind. she can also seeing and dance. most actresses tell you they can seeing and dance. or actors tell you they can ride horses. [laughter] that is why stunt people exist. that is why doubles exist. michele needs none of that. she did her own dancing. she did the voice and 3 1/2 hours to take a -- create look in the makeup. she was just as involved with that.
the makeup lady who current read -- created elizabeth. transformed her into marilyn monroe. it is a breathtaking performance. she plays marilyn, norma jean, and then she plays the girl she plays in the movie. it is heartbreaking and fun. this is an entertaining movie. the idea was to entertain the audience and do something they would walk out and feel great and exhilarating by. it is like killing exhilarate it again. that was the intention in making it. tavis: you delivered on this one. when you suggested earlier, and
i've heard this before, that is that you make movies you think you would like to see. and hope that others will like to see it. i know you are a movie lover. what is it about your sensibility about the movie business that resonates was -- with the audience? if you start out because you are turned on, you are not that out of sync with the move -- moviegoing public. the stuff you bet on it tends to work. >> i think we have a desire to do something different. to do the kind of things that -- i like to have an out of the box experience.
robert downey iron man, for example, here is a movie that blew me away. they elevated the johnna -- genre. "the descendents" or "hugo," "tin tin," this is like the best indiana jones movie. it is as good as "raiders." and here is a cross section. you walk into a movie theater and it takes you on a journey. i do not like to take you on the expected journey. there is nothing worse and saying a movie is predictable. it is like you watch the movie and five minutes and you know they're going to get together with a hero. i'd like to dabble in the unexpected. and also the offbeat and trying
to do something different. tavis: this movie is not out of people are talking, and i cannot wait to see it. anything meryl streep is and, i'm going to see it. "the iron lady" -- tell me about this and when it is dropping. >> this movie is going to go across the united states. this is a transformation. you know, the opening scene of the movie is your draw is going to drop. i know minded. playing 80, 70, 60, incredibly seem less and visible -- seemless and invisible.
when somebody first said margaret thatcher, i must tell you i am not her biggest fan. by the time i got on making the movie and listening to meryl, i think the movie humanizes her but does not shirk away from controversy. margaret thatcher made tough decisions. she put people line of work and stood up to labor unions and a lot of things i did not like. some of that turned out to be the right decision. here is a principal leader. this is where i am avoid by the fact that conservatives love this movie and liberals love this movie. at the beginning, as the movie was progressing, you had a situation where they would not see the movie. people close to you her would
say, how dare you. because they read the script and we did not center. the liberals would say, if you do not demonize her, i do not show up. you will see one of the most awful bloodied performances in movie history. barbara walters said, and she was leaving the theater, it was one of the best performances she had ever seen. it is also a movie that deals with the top staff. tavis: i am not a margaret thatcher fan, either. but because it meryl streep as an amazing actor, i want to see what she does. to the question i wanted to get back to, this notion of how it is, it is a good fortune to have when you have a number of projects out. three, four, five better talking about academy award nominations.
how does a guy who runs the company go about managing all of this? >> anybody who thinks they're going to win is not accurate. i will give you my best academy story. i do not think i've told this on tv. i have told it in a couple of bars. we had a movie called the crying game. neil jordan was a director. it was nominated for nine academy awards. people say you are going to win something tonight. the movie was successful. it grossed like $60 million. incredible night. we walking to the dorothy chandler pavilion where the oscars were. he says to me, i can feel a bit.
we are going to win them all tonight. i have that great feeling. i said that would be so exciting. we took our seats and we were complete -- competing against clint eastwood that year. clint eastwood walking into the theater and they gave him a standing ovation. for taking his seat. for sitting. [laughter] i said, they just gave him an ovation for sitting down. how in the hell are we going to win anything? the award we were favored to win, we lose. we lose again. i said, i will not spend the rest of the night in my seat. i will meet you in the bar. [laughter] it was the biggest shellacking of all time. he won everything.
it was the biggest, most impossible. feeling"ri, i have a -- yeah, so much for predictions. tavis: you can see why he is a great producer, he is a great storyteller. i am honored when he agrees to come onto the program. it is hard to imagine that if this season, the stock they have done, not getting a lot of nominations. there's a lot of good stuff that this company has put out this year. good -- thank you for the good work. all the best, academy award season. >> thank you, i appreciate that. tavis: see you next time. until then, thank you for watching. as always, keep the faith.
♪ ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with actor gary oldman on his role in tinker, tailor, soldier, spy. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with erur community to make every n>> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley.
with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nanationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.