Hand it to Harvey Weinstein. He’s using this whole controversy over the title of “The Butler” to drum up tons of publicity for the film, which hits theaters next month. But this circus is nevertheless ridiculous and I feel silly even writing about it.
Now Weinstein is turning the whole thing into David vs. Goliath, which has frequently worked for him in the past, whether it be in legal battles or awards campaigns. This morning he appeared on CBS to air the laundry out in public.
“It’s not that they’re wrong,” Weinstein admitted on the program. “It’s just a grace note would have just said this is a movie about civil rights, 28 individual investors financed the movie and 122 times in the history of movies, titles have been used and repeated [sympathies to whatever poor TWC gopher had to dig up that number]. Our understanding with them was this was just going to be the simple process it always is.”
Moreover, Weinstein goes so far as to suggest this is about something else entirely. “I was asked by two executives at Warner Bros., and I would testify to this, that if I gave them the rights back to ‘The Hobbit,’ they would drop the claim,” he said. Consider your laundry aired out, Harvey.
Weinstein’s lawyer, David Boies, also floated the assumption just about everyone else has, which is that Warner Bros. is stirring trouble in order to hurt the film. “What’s going on here is that they’re using the power of the MPAA…to say, ‘We’re going to restrict competition from this new film,'” Boies said. “And that’s just wrong.”
There was talk from Weinstein about being taught by his dad to fight injustice and a limp retort from First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams combating the notion that a studio would try to hold a competing film back (Floyd, honey, sit down as second) and about honoring one’s word. But the whole thing was just kinda sad to watch unfold.
MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd had the last word in the clip below. “Sit down,” he said. “Talk to each other…This is silly.”
Everyone in the studio just laughed. Hollywood, ladies and gentlemen.