Cesar Padilla, co-owner of the downtown vintage-clothing shop Cherry, was on a buying trip in Florida when he got a call from his nephew Cooper Dunn, an aspiring cinematographer living in Atlanta. “Cesar!” he said. “You’re never going to believe who I’m with. Bob Weinstein!” Of Miramax films.
A second voice got on the line. “This is Bob Weinstein. Come to Atlanta for my birthday party on Friday.” Padilla had always wanted to write a screenplay. He booked a ticket.
Bob Weinstein, Cooper told Padilla, had been exiled by brother Harvey when he came out of the closet a few years back. He claimed to be sitting out a noncompete clause in Atlanta with a lover and an adopted son (age 28). He drove a Lexus, spoke of artistic differences with Disney, and confessed that Quentin Tarantino, though a genius, was a real diva on-set. “He said it was really hard being gay and Jewish in L.A.,” Cooper says.
Meeting Bob Weinstein was a boon for Cooper, who, unable to find a job as a director of photography, was selling cable door-to-door. When friends called claiming to be at lunch with the Miramax vice-president, he begged off work and joined them. One had met Bob in a gay nightclub the night before, and now the mogul was lunching with a group of enraptured twentysomething Pulp Fiction fans.
Cooper was surprised Weinstein was such a slob: “He would have two inches of drool hanging from his chin. It was hard to believe Bob Weinstein was so vulgar.”
Still, he was Bob Weinstein! “He told me I have great eyes, that I could be an actor,” Cooper says. There was talk of agents and a job at the Discovery Channel.
There wasn’t much doubting. “We did look him up on the Internet,” Cooper says. “He looked kind of different than his picture. But he told us he’d had plastic surgery because he was sick of the paparazzi. He showed us his Emmy!”
Padilla smelled a rat. He thought the “Emmy” might have come from eBay. He called a client of his who has movie-industry connections. “I told her I was going to Bob Weinstein’s birthday in Atlanta,” Padilla says. “Then I realized how ridiculous it all sounded, and we both just started laughing like crazy.” The client phoned the real Bob Weinstein at his Tribeca office. Weinstein called Cooper and assured him he was by no means in Atlanta, and that no, they’d never met.
A spokeswoman for the real Bob Weinstein (who, for the record, is married with two children) says, “We’re taking the matter seriously and considering our options.”
Cooper decided to confront Atlanta Bob. “It’s so great that you’re working with Frank Miller,” Cooper said, referring to a future Miramax project.
A few days later, a fraught cell-phone message: “I’m a jewelry salesman. You guys wanted to make me into what I wasn’t. I don’t like who I am, and this thing has gotten way, way out of proportion.”
Reached on his cell phone, this Bob—whose name is, in fact, Bob Weinstein—insisted, in a thick southern accent, there was no deception. “Everyone says we look alike. And I get mail all the time inviting me to things.” Did he purposely deceive these aspiring filmmakers? “It’s a common name. But I do have friends in the business.”
As for Cooper, he’s now holed up with Uncle Cesar in New York. They’re working on a screenplay.