Women's Impact Report 2011: Donna Gigliotti & Meryl Poster
When one free-associates about Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the word estrogen doesn’t typically come to mind. Yet the Weinstein Co. owes much of the credit for its recent re-ascension to the joint female powerhouse of Donna Gigliotti and Meryl Poster. The duo — who run the Weinsteins’ film and TV operations, respectively — are known to provide the yin to the mercurial brothers’ yang.
“That is hilarious,” says Gigliotti of the suggestion. “Between Meryl and me, who is Bob and who is Harvey?”
The Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” producer, who joined the company one year ago with a so-called Robert Evans deal that allows her to produce some films while overseeing the Weinsteins’ entire slate, quips that the highlight of the past year was simply “we got to make some good movies!”
The Sarah Jessica Parker starrer “I Don’t Know How She Does It” marked Gigliotti’s first project after reteaming with the Weinsteins, with whom she enjoys a long history (she also produced their 2008 Oscar-nommed pic “The Reader”). She followed that up with the London-shot drama “My Week With Marilyn,” which stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe; the crime thriller “Cogan’s Trade,” toplined by Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini; and Paul Thomas Anderson’s next directing effort, “The Master.”
“I love rolling up my sleeves and actually producing the films,” she says while en route to the Philadelphia set of David O. Russell’s “The Silver Linings Playbook,” which stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. “I like being in the location van. I like the tech scout. I like being on the set.”
It’s no surprise that the one-time Miramax exec VP wound up back in the Weinstein family. Her cinematic sensibilities, which were largely influenced during her first film job as an assistant to Martin Scorsese on “Raging Bull,” mesh well with Harvey’s.
“(I like) to work with directors who have a real vision — i.e. James Gray, David Russell — and the way I see my role is to support, nurture and encourage that vision,” notes Gigliotti, whose next undertakings include the Quentin Tarantino-helmed Leonardo DiCaprio starrer “Django Unchained” and David Frankel’s “One Chance.”
“Actually, I think it’s one of the great things about Harvey. He may argue with directors and there’s a certain amount of push and pull in bringing the films to fruition, but when all is said and done, like me, he’s supportive of artists with true vision.”
While Gigliotti keeps the film side running smoothly, Poster is busy growing the Weinsteins’ fledgling TV business. In January, the former Miramax production prexy joined the company and has barely taken a breath, overseeing VH1’s “Mob Wives” and “Project Runway” spin-offs “Project Runway: Masters” and “Project Runway: Accessories” as well as 15 series in various stages of development including small-screen adaptations of the best-seller “The Nanny Diaries” and the mafia-themed tome “The Mad Ones.”
“Harvey made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” recalls Poster, who spent 16 years making movies with the brothers before a five-year stint at NBC Universal. “I jumped right in without any formalities.”
The new perch gives Poster an opportunity to work with old friends from the fashion world like Isaac Mizrahi and Molly Sims, both of whom she brought onto “Project Runway,” as well as “favorite” TV producers Ryan Seacrest, Adam Sher and Ben Silverman.
For the showbiz veteran, handling TV duties for the Weinsteins isn’t that different from overseeing their film operations. “My love and skill for working with talent come into similar play in TV as they did when I ran features for Miramax,” she says.
Title: President of production, the Weinstein Co.
Role model: “My Aunt Sally. She’d tell you the truth as she saw it and didn’t take guff from anyone.”
Career mantra: “If you’re bored, go do something else. Be bold, and mighty wings will carry you.”
Leisure pursuits: “I love the theater and the opera, which is one reason I live in New York.”
Political passion: “I hope I live long enough to see true reform of health care in the United States.”
Title: President of Television, the Weinstein Co.
Role model: “I miss Sydney Pollack. He was super smart, self-deprecating, eager to teach and to learn.”
Career mantra: “Always tell the truth. At first it’s painful, but the results are what matter.”
Leisure pursuits: “My great joy is spending all the time I can with my daughter Ava and my son Jed.”
Philanthropic passion: The American Freedom Foundation