Trash Talking with Harvey Weinstein

Juicy details plucked from the garbage of a movie mogul

Harvey may be in need of some computer skills. Someone has printed out his e-mails, like one involving details of the new Project Runway, which, after its fifth season on Bravo (starting July 16), Harvey is moving to Lifetime for season six, which will partly be filmed in California. The wags have it that Harvey's ego was offended that Bravo was getting so much credit for the success of the show, so he moved it to the more cautious, less gay Lifetime out of spite.

Longtime fans predict doom. But the e-mails suggest that whether or not Runway wanes, Harvey is a hands-on details guy: He seemed to peruse a series of e-mails regarding the show's makeup and "hair category.” A crucial one was sent May 26 to several people at L'Oreal by Lori Sale, a former Weinstein Company employee now at the Paradigm agency:

"I wish there was more time. Twc [The Weinstein Company] has already gone to great lengths with new partner at lifetime to not only secure both categories for you but also to be flexible toward loreal in coming up with an alternative for you on their packaging of [seasons] six + seven. Unfortunately, due to filming of season five and tresemme's feeling that they are being iced out of season 6, there just is not more time to give. As you know, season five commences in days…twc is now at risk that tresemme will pull out of season 5, which puts twc at risk for 1.1m [$1.1 million]. Carol is welcome to call hw [Harvey Weinstein] or me, but the deadline has to remain at close of business tuesday for loreal to decide on hair category for [Project Runway]/models for season 6 and structure of [seasons] 7/8. I would additionally say that the whole reason we are to this point is a result of the relationship! Without the relationship and the history, l'oreal would not have the opportunity to even engage in the opportunity to obtain the hair category.”

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

Tresemmé iced out of Runway! Oh, the fur (or at least the hair) is going to fly. If you watch the show, you know how carefully Tim Gunn announces that contestants will be taking their models to the "Tresemmé hair salon” and the "L'Oreal makeup room.” It's no secret that companies like Tresemmé and L'Oreal pay big bucks for that kind of product placement in such a huge hit as Runway. But that last line is precious; translation: We may be asking for a lot of money, but there are plenty of other companies lining up to replace Tresemmé, and you better act fast. Just how much money? That's spelled out in another e-mail included on the same page, one that is addressed from Sale to Harvey himself:

"Hw – if you get a call from carol hamilton it will be regarding [Project Runway] season 6 and beyond. I've imposed a tuesday, close of business deadline for them to commit to hair category in addition to make up. They have two choices: 1) Take both hair and make up for [$2 million] plus [$1 million] to twc (no split) for season 6 and [$2 million] for hair and makeup for season 7 plus [$1 million] to twc for a total of [$6 million]. 2) Commit to season 6 only for [$2 million] hair/make up plus [$1 million] to twc] and then by 3rd episode must pick up both season 7 + 8 for a total of [$8 million] (but must take additional [$1 million] to twc regardless) They have asked for additional time and I have declined that citing tresemme and season 5 which starts shooting shortly. Call me if you have questions. Best, lori”

Got that, H.W.? Lori's playing hardball with L'Oreal, so don't blow it and give the company any additional time to dither. They need to cough up $6–8 mil if they want to tease models' hair on camera for a few seasons.

Further evidence that a less-gay Runway on Lifetime is going to get sillier and even more blatantly placed with products is in another phone message from underling Barbara Schneewiess on the boss's call list: "Just wanted to confirm that you're okay with the creative for the Igor challenge on Project Runway.”

This appears to be a reference to the animated kids' film Igor that Weinstein's company is producing, and suggests that contestants on the new Lifetime version of Runway will be making outfits for the movie premiere or something. The tie-in possibilities are endless!

I know from the hand-scribbled notes on some of this stuff that Harvey did more than just toss it.

For example, a letter from French producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam refers to the distribution of a sequel to Arthur and the Invincibles. That partly animated film was directed by Luc Besson and released initially in France in 2006 as Arthur et les Minimoys, but Besson went public with his disappointment with how Weinstein had handled it for its 2007 American release. (Weinstein had hired Madonna, Snoop Dogg, DeNiro, and others to voice the characters, but critics creamed it.) Weinstein responded that Besson was a "has-been.” In the letter, Le Pogam refers to meeting Weinstein at Cannes and discussing a sequel, and offers a 30 million euro guarantee for its distribution. Someone—apparently Weinstein himself—scribbled a note on this letter: "Get a response from the French lawyer as well as the American…Watch the tricks”.

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