Harvey to Labadie: ‘Just kidding’

Croisette abuzz after topper's lampooning of distribber

CANNES — Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein would like the world to know that he loves Jean Labadie, and that he’s resigning from stand-up comedy.

The Croisette has been buzzing since Weinstein publicly lampooned Labadie, head of Gallic distrib Bac Films, at the Miramax Intl. lunch Friday.

“I was just kidding him around,” a chastened Weinstein told Variety on Saturday. The day before, Weinstein had asked Labadie to stand up in front of the packed room and accept the award as “Worst Distributor of the Year” for the performance of “Chocolat” in France.

Many of Labadie’s fellow distribs were horrified on his behalf, although Labadie, at least publicly, seemed to laugh it off.

A day later, Weinstein was clearly taken aback that anyone took him seriously. “It was an impromptu improvisation, a joke,” said Weinstein. “I was just killing time until Nicole Kidman arrived. There absolutely wasn’t any subtext.”

Revealing that Miramax owns a 5% stake in publicly quoted Bac, Weinstein says, “I love Jean Labadie, and I would never do anything to run down his company. He has done so much for us over the years. It was Jean more than any other distributor who made ‘Life Is Beautiful’ a success.”

In self-abasing mood, Weinstein confessed that he could have awarded himself the “Worst Distributor” laurel many times over.

“Quentin Tarantino, who is here with me, always makes me the butt of jokes about the fact that ‘Reservoir Dogs’ did much better in England than in America,” he said.

Tarantino is understood to have called Labadie at Weinstein’s request to help smooth things over; the filmmaker also promised Labadie that he would get his next film, “Kill Bill,” for France. But Labadie may have a chance to get his own back. “Jean has told me that from now we’ll see the Dimension movies doing great in France, and the Miramax films will be buried,” Weinstein laughed.

“You can say that Harvey Weinstein is resigning as a comedian,” he added ruefully.