'Bully': Can Weinstein Co. resign from group it doesn't belong to?
To paraphrase Groucho Marx, who would want to withdraw from a club that wouldn’t have them as a member?
Harvey Weinstein, apparently.
On Thursday, the Weinstein Co. lost by one vote an appeal with the Motion Picture Assn. of America to knock down the rating of its upcoming documentary “Bully,” which looks at the problem of bullying, from an R to a PG-13. The group apparently had found that language used by some of the bullies merited the more severe rating—despite the testimony of a bullied boy from the movie that the questionable scenes were essential to show the bullies’ brutal ways and to educate parents and children.
Shortly after the hearing, the Weinstein Co. released a statement saying that it wasn't just upset with the rating: It’s about had it with the organization that handed it down.
“TWC Considers Leave Of Absence From MPAA” read the statement’s sub-headline. The statement went on to say that, “As of today, The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far "
There was only one problem: the Weinstein Co. isn’t in the MPAA. A spokesman for the organization confirmed that Weinstein is not a member of the group, which represents the business interests of the major studios in Washington and abroad, and also oversees the ratings system. (Most of the members are conglomerate-owned studios; independent companies, such as TWC, are usually not affiliated.)
A Weinstein spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.
(In its own statement after the Weinstein release, Joan Graves, head of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration that oversees ratings, didn’t acknowledge the MPAA withdrawal but did respond to the ratings question. “The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that ‘Bully’ can serve as a vehicle for...important discussions,” the statement read. “The MPAA also has the responsibility, however, to acknowledge and represent the strong feedback from parents throughout the country who want to be informed about content in movies, including language.)
The Weinstein Co. has been one of the most aggressive companies in battling the MPAA over ratings--in 2010, for example, it fought successfully to get “Blue Valentine” reduced from an NC-17 to an R.
It’s possible that what Weinstein Co. meant was that it would no longer submit its films for ratings--signatories are required to submit their films, while independent companies can opt to go unrated). Of course, if the company did that, it would deprive itself of public showdowns with the MPAA--one of its most preferred publicity tactics.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Harvey Weinstein. Credit: John Shearer/Getty Images