Trash Talking with Harvey Weinstein

Juicy details plucked from the garbage of a movie mogul

New York is so filthy with moguls and millionaires that even the trash is rich.

I mean, movie impresario Harvey Weinstein is such a big shot that he doesn't even promptly return text messages from Nicole Kidman? You can understand that Weinstein might be too busy to blow off Knicks owner Jim Dolan's request for a "follow-up"; phone call—which Harvey did for at least a few days. Who would want to talk to Dolan anyway?

But if I were Harvey, I would text the hell out of Kidman every chance I got. And I would immediately return that call from local nightclub dude Armin Amiri offering me a chance to buy a photo of Lauren Bacall with another big-cigar guy, Fidel Castro.

Harvey Weinstein at a book release party last month
Getty Images
Harvey Weinstein at a book release party last month

And poor Michael Moore, who may have to drag his fat ass up to Weinstein's office for a confrontation a la Roger and Me. Why? Harvey didn't return Moore's April 25 phone call for more than a month.

There is, however, one way of making Harvey Weinstein pick up: You pick up his trash and then pick through it. Which is what I did—strictly by accident—the other evening in Tribeca.

A friend and I stumbled across a recycling bin filled to bursting with what looked like screenplays. Atop the pile was a copy of Variety addressed: "Special Hand Delivery, Harvey Weinstein, 3rd Floor, 375 Greenwich St."

I'd been having drinks at the Greenwich Hotel, Robert De Niro's new hostel in the burgeoning Little Hollywood district he and Harvey and others have created in Tribeca. Weinstein's offices have been in the building for years; he and De Niro opened Tribeca Grill on the corner of Greenwich and Franklin in 1990. After 9/11 De Niro started the Tribeca Film Festival to help the area recover, and provided a home for it in the Tribeca Film Center, which he opened in 1989.

So I already wasn't surprised that Harvey's trash was dumped in Tribeca. Applying the garbological principles laid out by junk scientist William Rathje, I determined that i was looking at Weinstein's garbage from early June. I also did that by looking at the dates.

As for the contents, a lot of the paperwork was juicy—and I don't mean with coffee stains. I mean with details about the revamped Project Runway, for instance.

When I called Weinstein with questions, he cracked wise.

"You want more of my garbage? How about a couple of shirts out of my laundry?" Harvey told me. He wouldn't comment about what was actually in the stuff—it was pretty plain he wasn't happy they'd been sitting out on the street for me to pick up.

But he obviously wasn't happy about much of it even before it was trashed. That pile of screenplays I found? Garbage. Even Harvey wouldn't put this stuff on the screen.

"I have developed a good sense of humor about my press over the years,” he told me. "I hope that my mother reads this article and realizes once and for all that I do work hard and I'm not sipping martinis on the golf course.”

True, there were no country-club receipts in the garbage. And there were a lot of documents detailing the work life of a modern, motivated, movie mogul. Page upon page prepared for Harvey were labeled either "Calls You Owe” or "Need to Call.” These call lists were prepared every day, and I had four of them, for June 9 through June 12, during which time a slew of producers, agents, attorneys, reporters, and actors begged for his attention.

They ranged from the mundane — Nicole David of William Morris called to say: "Alicia Keys is playing at the Garden on June 18—would you like to attend?” to the intriguing, like this one prompted by producer Mark Gordon's call: "Mark said he would like to speak to you about the Richard Pryor project."

As noted above, Harvey was not very good about some of the "calls he owes” people like Kidman and Michael Moore. Way back on May 2, producer Anna Miller had left this message: "I wanted to remind you of a book I sent a few years ago. Call me when you can.” Hey, what's another few days when a year has passed?

The "need to call” lists were another matter. Topping Harvey's June 9 "need to call” agenda was Gwyneth Paltrow, "re: PROMISES, PROMISES.” Has Paltrow heard that another update to the 1968 Broadway smash (in turn based on the Billy Wilder film The Apartment) is in the works and wants in? Does Anne Hathaway know that Paltrow may be interested in the lead role she's reportedly already landed?

Harvey also needs to call stylist Rachel Zoe, Disney head Bob Iger, Sylvester Stallone ("re: Nelson DeMille's book Spencerville”), Ron Perelman, Michelle Williams, Diane Von Furstenberg ("re: Fashion copyright matter”), Julia Roberts ("re: NY Concert – June 10; via Richard Lovett and Project Runway”), Kate Hudson ("re: DIOR”), Morgan Spurlock, and Tommy Hilfiger.

And Harvey needs to call Woody Allen ("re: Bullets Over Broadway”)—presumably about the rumored stage adaptation of Woody's film. On a more somber note, Harvey's also supposed to call Heath Ledger's former agent, Steve Alexander, "re: heath ledger massage therapist.”

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