Bette Midler Takes In The “InTouchables”

Harvey Weinstein received the prestigious Legion d’Honneur last night at the French Embassy in New York, and gave a passionate speech about his love of film, his family, his fight against piracy, and the financial situation of his already fabled newish studio, The Weinstein Company. Citing guests and banking friends like Steve Schwartzman and Tim Coleman,  Lloyd Blankfeinand Harvey Schwartz, Len Blavatnik, Ron Burkle, David Boies and Bert Fields, Pete Petersen, Jim Dolan, Dirk Ziff, Michael Bloomberg, and  Henry Kravis, Weinstein said: “We’ve had three great years. But five years before that we started one of the worst losing streaks in the industry. We were pretty down on our luck. There were a lot of people who stepped up for us. These men stood behind us, captains of industry all, because of what we had done, what we would do. A few weeks ago we paid off our debt. The company is thriving and doing well.”

Indeed, TWC has won back to back Oscars for Best Picture (The King’s Speech, The Artist). They have a strong line up for the 2012 season including Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master.”

Weinstein also cited attorney John Eastman, Paul McCartney’s brother in law, as an old friend, and Michael Cohl, the concert producer who Harvey and Bob Weinstein worked with early in their days as rock promoters. As for McCartney, who headlined “The Concert for New York” in 2001 for Weinstein, the studio head joked: “Paul thinks we still work for him.”

His emotional and off the cuff speech was delivered in a room that included most of these people, as well as 86 year old mother Miriam, brother Bob, two nieces, successful wife Georgina Chapman of Marchesa designs, plus a smattering of people who make movies like actor directors Bob Balaban and Tom McCarthy, and Oscar winning director writer Paul Haggis, as well as Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes,” his writer wife Jenny Conant, and socialite activists like Patricia Duff and Blaine Trump.  Bette Midler, who’d been at the earlier screening of Weinstein’s new French film, “The Intouchables,” gave her congrats at the theater. Also on hand were French philanthropist Nichoas Rachline, who introduced Weinstein, and Ambassador Francois Delattre.

Weinstein waxed poetic about seeing his first French film. Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows,” at a Queens movie theater when he was 14. He and all his friends went, thinking it would be sexy. By the time the movie was over, only the Weinsteins remained. They were hooked. Weinstein used French producer Robert Hakim as a mentor, who left him several pictures including “Belle du Jour” for release in the US. Hakim – who presided over eccentric French stars”“gave him the best advice he ever got about movie making: “You have to act crazier than the actors.”

After citing all the original Miramax stars he made (my words, not his)”“Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon)”“and superstars who worked with him (Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, Martin SCorsese), Weinstein brought up his latest controversial film, “Bully.” It’s ironic for me and as it is for you that we found Bully. The same thing occurred to me that occurred to you: How the hell is a guy with my bad temper like me make a maovie like Bully? He quoted the old Miramax motto: Good can triumph over evil if the angels are as organized as the Mafia.”

Amen to that.

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