With over 35 years experience in the movie business and a number of years managing legendary artists like Frank Sinatra and Elvis, Jerry Weintraub shows no signs of slowing down at 73.
A few years back, Jerry Weintraub’s autobiography, “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead,” was published, and that too was a huge success and HBO follows that up with a new documentary called “His Way,” directed by Douglas McGrath (Emma) and featuring many of Weintraub’s Hollywood acquaintances, including George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and more.
Weintraub first broke into the film business producing Robert Altman’s Nashville, followed later by hits like the comedy Oh, God! with George Burns and John Denver. In the ’80s, Weintraub produced Barry Levinson’s Diner and the original The Karate Kid, an enormous success which spawned a number of sequels and a TV series, before being remade in conjunction with Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, this time pairing Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. In 2001, the producer had a spectacular comeback when he and director Steven Soderbergh brought together George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon to remake Ocean’s 11, another enormous success that led to two equally big sequels.
ComingSoon.net got on the phone with one of Hollywood’s A-list producers early this week to talk about the HBO doc as well as some of the other projects he’s developing including remakes of Oh, God! and a sequel to The Karate Kid.
ComingSoon.net: So I loved the movie. I’ve started reading the book and I really like it so far, though I’m only a couple of chapters in. What was the connection between the two things?
CS: Who brought Douglas McGrath on board? Was he one of the people who instigated the movie?
CS: I assume you were very involved in getting George and Brad and Matt on board?
CS: I was actually impressed by how many of them do impressions of you. Had you ever seen any of these impressions before?
CS: How involved were you with what ended up in the movie, did you see it early and let Doug know if there was anything you didn’t want included?
CS: Is it hard watching a movie like this with all these people talking about you? It’s very flattering.
CS: It feels like almost there might be another book in there, there might be another story in there. I haven’t read the whole book yet obviously.
CS: I’m obviously more familiar with your work in the movie business and I hadn’t known about you managing Frank and Elvis. Your transition from music business to movie business was interesting because it’s something you don’t see that often.
CS: Do you think one business is harder than the other?
CS: Obviously the story about the studio not wanting to release “Diner” is quite unbelievable in hindsight considering what a classic film it became.
CS: Is there anything in your years as a producer that you wanted to do that never quite took off or you still feel could take off if the time was right?
CS: Obviously Jaden Smith is an example of a young actor that is taking off. Are there any other actors today that you feel have big futures?
CS: Most of them have been around 15 or 20 years now. Do you still go to the movies and see new things to keep on top of the new actors out there?
CS: You’ve had a lot of success with remakes. Some people love them, some people hate them, but “Ocean’s 11” was one most people liked, and I absolutely loved “The Karate Kid,” which I saw here in Vegas at ShoWest, which is now CinemaCon. What do you think makes a good remake?
CS: Are you involved with the sequel they want to make as well?
CS: How’s it going? Do they have a script yet?
CS: I’m pretty excited to see them together again.
CS: What about some of these other things? I’m just old enough to have seen the original “Oh God!” in theaters. What about that one made you think of remaking it? Is there anyone today who could fill George Burns’s shoes?
CS: Are there any original ideas or anything you see coming up? Do you still get scripts?
CS: People want westerns again, which is great.
CS: Your relationship with Soderbergh is great, taking him from what he did with “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich” and doing mainstream movies like “Ocean’s Eleven.” Where does “Liberace” fall in with those movies?
CS: Are we going to see a younger Liberace as well? Are you going to have to find a young Michael Douglas to play Liberace?
CS: The young version as well?
CS: That’s impressive. Are you have to use CG or anything like that?
CS: Do you think Steven is really going to retire after doing that?
CS: Yeah, I don’t think so either. I was kind of surprised by that.
CS: It’s funny because you got Harald Zwart to do “The Karate Kid.” I’m curious what you see in directors as far as a good director to work with for a producer?
CS: Do you still regularly meet new directors? Do you see any up and coming directors you’d want to work with?
CS: Have you ever directed?
CS: Seeing this movie and seeing George and Brad and Matt and Julia talking about you, people might be interested in another Danny Ocean movie. Is that completely contingent on Steven wanting to do another one? Would you ever do another one?
CS: Have you had any idea for another one and would you do it if George and Brad and Matt expressed interest in doing another movie together?
“His Way” airs on HBO starting Monday, April 4.