Hollywood uncensored

Before last Sunday's Oscars, arch-rival movie moguls Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Katzenberg amused themselves and 700 show business guests with a savage, over-the-top skit that left no titan untouched, least of all themselves.


Nikki Finke
March 29, 2002 5:50AM (UTC)

You wouldn't believe what Hollywood titans do for fun when the cameras aren't on them and the reporters' pencils are put away: They call each other terrible names and insult innocent people and say exactly what's on their minds. And then they laugh about it.

Last Saturday, on the eve of the 74th Academy Awards, Miramax held its pre-Oscar party at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Strip, an annual event put on by the entertainment company's founders, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, that is best known for its irreverent Hollywood satires featuring the two moguls' favorite players, like Kevin Spacey, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow. Little wonder that Robin Williams one year introduced the Miramax soiree by saying, "I want to welcome you to the Weinstein bar mitzvah." It's exactly that kind of feeling: a family get-together.

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That is, if your kinfolk are the Corleone family.

Though snippets often make it into the press, the entire evening is supposed to be off the record for the media. Well, I wasn't invited to this year's party so I'm not bound by Miramax's rules. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am in a dispute with Miramax's parent company, Disney, over two articles I wrote for the New York Post about the ongoing Disney legal battle over "Winnie the Pooh" royalties.) Not only did I have many friends at last Saturday's party, but I also have a rough transcript of the climactic, jaw-dropping skit from one of the revelers.

My review? This year's uncensored yuck-fest will be remembered for a long, long time to come.

It wasn't just that, after the down-and-dirtiest Oscar campaign in history, rival studio moguls came to break bread with Miramax, including Universal's Ron Meyer and Stacey Snider ( "A Beautiful Mind"), Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg and Terry Press ("Shrek" and "A Beautiful Mind"), 20th Century Fox's Jim Gianopulos ("Moulin Rouge") and USA Films' Scott Greenstein ("Gosford Park").

It wasn't just that actor Benjamin Bratt narrated a spoof titled "Amelie of West Hollywood," which made shameless fun of homosexuals. On the morning that the Oscar nominations were announced, Bratt intoned, Universal's Snider was trying to track down John Nash, the Princeton mathematician who was the subject of "A Beautiful Mind," so the studio could put an end to the "he's gay" rumors swirling in the media. "Unfortunately," Bratt continued, "he was in Key West with Rupert Everett."

No, what made the party was the evening's last skit, which most of the 700 people in attendance watched with mouths agape. For starters, the satire was performed by none other than Weinstein and Katzenberg themselves -- two bitter enemies who nearly every year battle brutally for the best picture Oscar. For a time, Miramax had the edge, winning Oscars for both "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love," the latter of which upset Dreamworks' "Saving Private Ryan," leading to charges and countercharges by both men. But lately Dreamworks has gained the upper hand, winning back-to-back Oscars for "American Beauty" and "Gladiator" and co-producing "A Beautiful Mind," which took the top award the following evening.

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The festivities were held under a tent in the rear of the Mondrian, where the hotel's outdoor Sky Bar and Asia de Cuba restaurant were turned into a Miramax playground, complete with stage. It was here that the diminutive Katzenberg and the bulbous Weinstein came out dressed in full Roman gladiator regalia, complete with chest armor, giant helmets and little skirts.

How they could stand to be on the same stage together, much less co-star in a skit, baffled the Hollywood crowd. But afterward, representatives for both men claimed the two are "friends" -- a Hollywood euphemism if ever there was one. "Harvey and Jeffrey kept running into each other at pre-Oscar events and decided to do it," a Katzenberg insider explained. Echoed a Miramax source: "Harvey and Jeffrey were having some fun at their own expense."

That the skit was rife with subtexts was a given, naturally. So for those who don't religiously read Variety, we've footnoted a number of the industry references. The skit was set in Stacey Snider's Universal office. Supposedly, Snider has called the two eternally feuding moguls in to broker a peace. In fact, Universal co-produced "A Beautiful Mind" and traded its own charges with Miramax during the Oscar campaign. Snider herself wisely chose to sit out the skit, watching instead from a front-row table, so her role was played by actress Christina Applegate.

Before the action began, Miramax president Mark Gill announced that Katzenberg and Weinstein were forced to portray themselves since they "would not approve a single one of our casting group choices ... Let's bring on the gladiators." And with that, one of Hollywood's most bizarre shows began:

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Katzenberg (to Snider): Hello, darling. You look so beautiful today.

Weinstein: I timed that, Jeffrey. Exactly two seconds till your first suck-up.

Katzenberg: If you gained exactly one more pound, you could have come as Rome. (1)

Snider: I brought you here today because I have had enough. I can't take any more of the "he said, she said" bull.

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Weinstein: Who are you calling "she"?

Snider: First it was "Saving Private Ryan" against "Shakespeare in Love." Now all this backbiting about "A Beautiful Mind."

Weinstein: I swear on the life of my driver, I never said any of this. But Nash was gay, wasn't he?

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Katzenberg: Hey, looking at you in that outfit, you ought to know.

Weinstein: Shove it up your skirt, Sparky. (2)

Katzenberg: I think you seem to have forgotten. I bought your company. (3)

Weinstein: Yeah, in 1993, with Michael Eisner's money.

Katzenberg: Lucky for you, back then he still had some. (4)

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Weinstein: Not that you ever saw any of it. (5)

Katzenberg: (to Snider) Does it turn you on when he talks dirty like that?

Snider: Jeffrey, if you're looking for a three-way, call Barry Diller. (6)

(Gasp from crowd)

Weinstein: Jeffrey has a lot of experience with three-ways. That's what he does for a living. (7)

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Katzenberg (to crowd): Barry, I begged him to take that out. Honest to God, I begged him. (8)

Weinstein: Michael, Jeffrey made me put that line in. Honest to God, it wasn't me. (9)

Katzenberg: Well, we all know what a great sense of humor he has, Fatso.

Snider: This meeting is about me. The Academy Awards are about me. I am the daughter of a child psychologist and a marriage counselor. I find their techniques come in handy in this job.

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Katzenberg (looking at Weinstein): We're not married.

Snider: I know. You're just fuck buddies.

Weinstein: Jeffrey, weren't you married to Keanu Reeves?

Katzenberg: That wasn't me. It was the other guy. (10)

(Hoots from crowd)

Snider: I want you both to take a deep breath. Now, take this teddy bear. I want you to cuddle your teddy bear. (Looking at Katzenberg) Now, pretend your teddy bear is Harvey. Say something sincere and nice to Harvey.

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Katzenberg: Hello, baby.

Snider: Harvey, I want you to say exactly what's on your mind.

Katzenberg: I'll tell you what's on his mind. A freighter full of Krispy Kremes.

Snider: Harvey, how did that make you feel?

Weinstein: Horny.

Katzenberg: Stacey, ask him how he feels about the fact that his little brother has to save his ass every day. (11)

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Weinstein: You ought to know. Steven's been carrying you for years. (12)

Snider: What character should Jeffrey be, Harvey?

Weinstein: A dwarf: Greedy. (13)

Snider: What character should Harvey be, Jeffrey?

Katzenberg: Shrek, but without a single ounce of charm.

(With that, Weinstein takes his hands and tears off the head of the stuffed bear.)

Snider: Why did you do that to your teddy?

Weinstein: Because I'm fucking pissed off, OK?

Snider: I want you both to swear an oath of allegiance in the glorious pursuit of Oscar.

Katzenberg : Harvey, I love you.

Weinstein: Jeffrey, I love you more.

Katzenberg: Listen, you fat fuck ...

Snider: You're both making me sick, get out of my office.

(Snider remains onstage but Katzenberg and Weinstein leave. Their voices are heard from offstage.)

Katzenberg: Harvey, I've got an 18-wheeler called "Road to Perdition," and I'm going to drive it right up your butt. (14)

Weinstein: You do that, and I'm going to get my "Gangs of New York" to get medieval with your ass. (15)

Katzenberg: Stacey is a repressed shiksa (16) wannabe.

Weinstein: You know, she's a lesbian.

Katzenberg: Really? That's cool.

(A male secretary, played by actor Hugh Jackman, walks into Snider's office.)

Jackman: Is there anything else?

Snider: Why don't you come in and close the door.

(Snider and Jackman start making out feverishly.)

(1) Harvey Weinstein is obese. Also, Weinstein's overbudget, schedule-busting Miramax picture, "Gangs of New York," was filmed in Rome for weeks and weeks.

(2) "Sparky" is Katzenberg's nickname.

(3) Disney bought Miramax when Katzenberg was still chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

(4) Eisner did not receive a bonus for 2001 because the Walt Disney Co. had a disastrous year financially and its stock price remains depressed.

(5) Katzenberg's ugly contractual dispute with Disney ended when both sides finally agreed to a reported $275 million award for Katzenberg.

(6) Entertainment mogul Barry Diller, who recently married designer Diane von Furstenberg, has often been the subject of rumors and reports questioning his sexuality. Diller is often joined at the hip with gay friends like David Geffen and Sandy Gallin.

(7) Katzenberg is a business partner in Dreamworks SKG with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. S is for Spielberg, K is for Katzenberg and G is for Geffen.

(8) Barry Diller is not known for having much of a sense of humor.

(9) Michael Eisner is not known for having much of a sense of humor. Diller was Eisner's boss at Paramount Pictures years ago.

(10) A ridiculous but persistent rumor had Keanu Reeves "married" to Katzenberg's Dreamworks business partner, David Geffen. Both Reeves and Geffen have denied the rumor.

(11) It is well known that Harvey Weinstein's brother, Bob Weinstein, helps keep highbrow Miramax afloat with Bob's lowbrow but also very profitable studio Dimension Films.

(12) It is well known that Dreamworks would not be nearly as profitable or award-winning a studio without the involvement of Steven Spielberg.

(13) Because of Katzenberg's contract dispute, Disney representatives kept referring to Katzenberg as "greedy."

(14) Dreamworks' upcoming "Road to Perdition" is a Sam Mendes-directed film starring Tom Hanks as a hitman who goes on the run and seeks vengeance when members of his family are murdered during gangland wars in 1930s Chicago.

(15) Miramax's upcoming "Gangs of New York" is a Martin Scorsese-directed film starring Leonardo diCaprio as a young man who seeks vengeance against the man who murdered his father as a result of gang warfare between the Irish and Italian gangs in New York City between 1840 and 1863.

(16) The kind of girl that Jewish movie moguls tend to marry.


Nikki Finke

Nikki Finke is Salon's Hollywood correspondent and the West Coast editor for New York magazine.

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