Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Sometimes a trade headline catches my eye and I can do nothing but stare at it for a few moments in disbelief. This is one of those times. Peter Biskind, the rabble-rousing chronicler of Hollywood, spilled a lot of secrets about the 1990s American indie film scene in Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film. (‘Chronicler’ is being generous, according to some who claim that Biskind fabricates or selectively reports facts and events.)
Now the book is, improbably, becoming the basis for a film called Down and Dirty, for which Vincent D’onofrio has been tapped to star as Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein. What I’d give to hear any phone call between the mogul and actor discussing this project.
The project was announced some time ago, but Screen Daily reported the casting news, and doesn’t give many more details aside from basics about the picture’s production company. (Yamani Pictures, the same company behind the upcoming Richard Pryor biopic.)
Down and Dirty Pictures is a tremendously entertaining book, whether or not it is quite as factually accurate as Biskind would like us to believe. It focuses on Miramax as the poster child of the ’90s indie scene, and, as this Publisher’s Weekly quote mentions, paints many of the participants in unflattering light.
The intimidating image of Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein plows powerfully through Biskind’s saga; the studio honcho emerges as a combination of blinding charm and raging excess, a boisterous bully who tears phones out of walls and overturns tables. Former Miramax exec Patrick McDarrah…concludes, “Harvey is ego, Bob is greed.” These two volatile personalities directly-and fascinatingly-contrast with the book’s other protagonist, Sundance creator Robert Redford. Biskind presents Redford as passive aggressive, an invariably polite conflict avoider, but also notorious for keeping people waiting and failing to follow through on commitments…Above all, Biskind conveys a key truth: the Weinsteins and Redford, whatever their personal imperfections, possess courage and a deep, overwhelming love of film.
In a trade report that has D’onofrio playing Harvey Weinsten, here’s the weirdest bit: “Besides Down And Dirty, other titles on Yamani’s 2010-11 production slate include Bill Condon’s Richard Pryor film Is It Something I Said starring Eddie Murphy.” Guessing that Eddie Murphy mention is a mistake on Screen Daily’s part right now, so don’t pay it much mind.