Magazine article Variety

Dance of Reinvention Didn't Always Suit Jerry Weintraub

Magazine article Variety

Dance of Reinvention Didn't Always Suit Jerry Weintraub

Article excerpt

No one could have invented Jerry Weintraub except Jerry Weintraub."

That was Weintraub's self-assessment, delivered in 2010 as he was promoting his memoir, and I admired the line for its candor as well as its narcissism. Weintraub was, in fact, a master of self-invention, and he managed to keep reinventing himself throughout his life, often successfully, often disastrously. The successes were wonderful to behold; the failures were disturbing to those who invested in him.

The curtain came down on his career last week in Santa Barbara at age 77.

Weintraub once told me that every talented person in Hollywood wanted to do something he's not good at - hence actors wanted to direct, directors to write, etc. Weintraub embodied this precept. He dreamed of being able to write the checks, not just hustle the big ideas. And he was bad at it.

As a promoter, and self-promoter, he helped propel the careers of important performers ranging from John Denver to Elvis to Led Zeppelin. He understood the concert business and excelled as a manager.

As a producer, Weintraub's formidable passions helped levitate a range of films from "Nashville" to "The Karate Kid" to "Oh, God!" to the rebooted "Ocean's Eleven" franchise. Weintraub's carefully cultivated relationship with HBO resulted in the freewheeling Liberace profile "Behind the Candelabra," the current series "The Brink" and even a flattering self profile, "His Way."

Filmmakers who worked with Weintraub admired his fierce support even when their films encountered adversity. When William Friedkin delivered the brilliant but brutal "Cruising," Lorimar Films backed away in the face of protests, and the then-ratings guru, Richard Heffner, dissolved in panic. Weintraub fought for an R rating and for a UA release. "Weintraub was Monroe Stahr from Fitzgerald's 'Last Tycoon,"' reflects Friedkin. "He totally understood the mechanisms of music and film. …

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