Harvey has been spending more time in London, and in late 2004, he was named a commander of the British Empire at the British consul-general’s New York residence, a ceremony heavily attended by his bankers. He’s also quit cigarettes for the umpteenth time. Some of the weight’s back on, but Steve Rattner says he can’t remember when he saw Harvey this happy: “He feels like he’s gotten his life back, and he’s got this great opportunity to knock the cover off the ball.”
“I’m done. I’m a nonsmoker. It’s over,” he says, adding under his breath, “and I’m a Scientologist.”
The brothers take a cash salary with no bonus. Their overhead, and traveling and entertainment expenses, are capped. Now, when they fly private, they’ll reimburse the company. “We’re much more fiscally conscious and happy to be so,” says Harvey.
There are no side deals. If Harvey and Bob as individuals want to invest in Broadway or further in publishing, they’ll need permission from the board.
The brothers also need board approval to jump the cap on movies (even if the board is currently stacked with Friends of Harvey). But hurdles remain. The brothers will need to build up Genius, the little video-distribution operation they partnered with. And they desperately need pay-TV slots; it’s the gaping hole in the plan ever since a deal for slots with Sony Pictures Entertainment head Michael Lynton was scuttled after Harvey got into a shouting match with him.
“I think Goldman did an extraordinary job for Harvey,” says Rattner, echoing the thoughts of many. “They put the full muscle of the firm behind him, they turned over every rock and raised capital in amounts and on terms that I don’t think anybody, including myself, thought was possible.”
Strategic partnerships were struck with the ad-agency conglomerate WPP and luxury-goods purveyor LVMH, which were seeking new product-placement venues. “My dad was one of those guys who had always talked about somebody’s invention or concept,” says Harvey. “Someday, I’d like to create a product out of this company.”
Like, for example?
“Women’s dresses,” jokes Harvey, whose conference room was until recently filled with them.
Harvey urges me to get my hands on a biography of handsome, courtly MGM studio head Irving Thalberg, and to read The Last Tycoon, Fitzgerald’s homage to Thalberg, while I’m at it. And be sure not to miss that line on the first page, the one about the few men who ever lived who are “able to keep the whole equation of pictures in their heads.”
Harvey has his own memoir, a work in progress that’s gone through a few hapless writers and seems to rev up anytime somebody threatens to write Miramax’s unknown story: One flew to Cannes and didn’t get to meet with Harvey the entire trip. James Kaplan was hired to jump up a rewrite because Harvey had admired the way he handled anger-management issues in John McEnroe’s as-told-to. That version was completed in plenty of time to beat Peter Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, but Harvey, a tireless consumer of biographies on Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, captains of industry, and others who present well in marble, thought it—and, perhaps, he—didn’t measure up. Says one person who’s had a look, “Harvey never could accept that to make this work, he’d have to go to the dark places.”
“The Biskind book plays as if you hired a bad actor to overact Harvey,” says Tarantino with a helium giggle. “Harvey has no sense of humor about it at all.”
Soon heading into paperback is Rachel Pine’sTwins of Tribeca, a send-up of life working for Harvey and Bob by a former Miramax publicist, bought by Miramax Books. In June came a Daily News story purporting to unmask who’s who in the book. “You have to put the kibosh on it!” Harvey was shouting, say ex-employees. “How can we keep that book out of the stores?” Pine kept her Today show booking later that month—after which Twins was suddenly tracking within 150 books of the New York Times’ best-seller list. That’s when Miramax’s PR efforts mysteriously died down.
Of course he’d read Twins, Harvey says. “How could we, who made Scary Movie, not spoof ourselves? But pegging us to the publicity was the wrong way to go. Me and Bob, as we found out, don’t sell books.”
But if a parody of Harvey and Bob’s life was almost a best seller, that would appear to bode well for their real story, which will all be righted after the IPO, after the crazy wealth arrives—that emotional ending—and the Weinsteins have cruised into history in their respective black Mercedes.