×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Harvey Weinstein Crashes MPAA’s Tech Tryst

TWC topper threatens a content jihad in the midst of the film org’s play for diplomacy with Netcos

Former President Bill Clinton toed the party line at the recent D.C. gathering of tech and entertainment honchos, preaching a live-and-let-live philosophy as keynoter of the first Creativity Conference, an event co-sponsored by the MPAA.

“(The) future will reward more richly those who are more creative and more cooperative,” he said, his words jibing perfectly with the studio lobby’s latest strategy that Hollywood and Silicon Valley need to find common ground to fight online piracy.

But not everyone was in a conciliatory mood. Indie movie mogul Harvey Weinstein came out guns blazing, bashing Google as an “octopus,” and citing the availability of clips of his former company Miramax’s 2002 Oscar-winning hit “Chicago” on YouTube as a way to mock the tech company’s business plan.

“You take someone else’s content for free. Deliver it. Don’t pay them anything. And build a $500 billion Silicon Valley company and be very, very, rich,” Weinstein said. “And then have cool slogans like ‘We just want to help the world.’ ”

And the Weinstein Co. chief didn’t stop there.

“I promised myself that if Obama won,” he continued, “that I would be free to (speak out against piracy), and I will, and George Clooney will, and there will be a hundred of us that will too. That battle is coming now.” Clooney was not available for comment.

Weinstein’s words sounded a strident note that runs contrary to the diplomatic approach of the MPAA, which has been promoting the idea that showbiz and the tech world “need each other,” in the words of the group’s chairman Christopher Dodd. In part, Dodd’s is a pragmatic strategy: Antipiracy legislation seems unlikely any time soon, as memories still linger of the dramatic online protest waged last year by the tech sector
that sidelined the Stop Online Piracy Act. Capitol Hill lawmakers still choose their words carefully when it comes to anything that smacks of restricting Internet access.

If Weinstein, Clooney and others were to become more aggressive about fighting piracy and its abettors, it would please many, including those in D.C. policy circles, who’ve long privately griped over Google’s giant footprint, and called for more visible figures from the industry to speak out. The problem in the lobbying campaign for SOPA wasn’t what people were saying, but that so few prominent showbizzers were saying anything at all.

Pressed by moderator Richard Stengel for specifics at the Creativity Conference, Weinstein praised Dodd, but suggested that the MPAA chief ’s approach was a matter of “finesse.”

Asked about Weinstein’s comments, Dodd told Variety he had not talked to him beforehand about what he would say. “Anybody who knows Harvey knows (he) speaks his own mind.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Best Picture Contenders

    Examining the Best Picture Race in a Year of Disruption

    In the lead-up to Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” there was some fretting about how a director known for grindhouse exploitation might handle the summer of 1969, when the Manson murders capped a period of social upheaval. While Tarantino does get around to what happened on Cielo Drive on the fateful [...]

  • Vanessa Kirby poses for photographers at

    Vanessa Kirby to Star in Drama 'Pieces of a Woman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Hobbs & Shaw” actress Vanessa Kirby is in negotiations to star in the Bron Studios pic “Pieces of a Woman,” sources tell Variety. Kornél Mundruczó will direct with Kata Wéber penning the script. Reps for Kirby could not be reached for comment. Specific plot details are being kept under wraps, but it is known that [...]

  • Suki WaterhouseSave the Children Centennial Celebration,

    Dark Castle, HanWay and Ingenious Partner on Simon Barrett's 'Séance' Starring Suki Waterhouse

    Dark Castle Entertainment, HanWay Films and Ingenious Media have partnered on horror film “Séance,” directed by Simon Barrett and starring Suki Waterhouse. Set in an all-girls boarding school haunted by a vengeful spirit, Waterhouse (“Assassination Nation,” “The Bad Batch”) plays Camille, a young woman who arrives at the Fairfield Academy following one of the student’s [...]

  • The Black List

    The Black List Reveals India Plans

    The Black List, an online yearly survey that features Hollywood’s most popular unpublished screenplays, is all set to make an imprint in India. The survey’s founder Franklin Leonard revealed this during a masterclass at the ongoing Mumbai film festival, where he is also serving as the head of the India Gold competition jury. “One of [...]

  • China Pavilion at TIFFCOM 2019

    'Still Life' Remake Heads for Japan-China Fund Backing

    A Japanese-language remake of British drama “Still Life” could be the first film to flow from a fund created to support Chinese-Japanese joint productions. The fund is operated by WeF Cultural Investment Media, a company founded earlier this year with the backing of government bodies in Beijing and Qingdao — the Chinese coastal city which [...]

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West to Preview ‘Jesus Is King’ Album and Film in Los Angeles on Wednesday

    On the heels of Monday’s announcement that Kanye West’s delayed “Jesus Is King” album will be released on Friday along with a companion IMAX film, the rapper will preview both projects at the Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, it was announced this morning. Tickets for the “Jesus Is King Album & Film Experience” will be [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    The Arcs Festival Taps Isabelle Huppert to Head The Talent Village For Young Helmers

    Guillaume Nicloux, the French director of “Valley of Love,” is set to preside over the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, while the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) will be the patron of the second edition of the Talent Village. Created last year, the Talent Village is a development workshop and platform for emerging [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content