Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin kiss and tell
The feud is over. After days of unseemly squabbling between Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin over the release date of "The Reader," the two titans of the film industry have finally buried the hatchet. They sent out a joint communique Sunday afternoon saying they had settled their differences and agreed to give the Stephen Daldry directed film a Dec. 12th release date. Not long afterward, the two men got on the phone with me to explain what happened.
"This is exactly the way it should've been solved," said Rudin. "Doing what's right for the movie always comes first." Weinstein added: "Scott and I may have fought a few rounds, but we always fight over great films. We may go to Washington tomorrow and sit down with Hank Paulson and see if we can help negotiate the bailout package next."
To recap: Rudin, "The Reader's" producer, had insisted that Daldry, who's in the middle of opening a play on Broadway, couldn't possibly have the film ready until 2009. Weinstein, who is releasing the picture through his Weinstein Co., insisted the film needed the media boost of an end-of-year awards-season release to have any hope of finding a large enough audience to be successful. In the end, Weinstein agreed to put up some extra money to fund various round-the-clock-style editing and mixing sessions that would allow Daldry to finish the film without any artistic compromises.
Rudin acknowledged that the public spitting match wasn't doing the film any good, saying "It seemed like we were headed for a car crash." He had several long conversations with Daldry, advising the filmmaker (who made "The Hours" with Rudin in 2002) that they were headed down a dark path. "I asked Stephen if it would be OK for me to approach Harvey and discuss how we could figure out a way to release the film this year in a way that everyone could proudly stand behind," Rudin told me. "In turn, Harvey was willing to adjust his schedule and make sure Stephen could finish the movie in the right way."
Weinstein says he doesn't mind putting more money into the film. "I've lavished all sorts of additional money on this film, because it's the right thing to do for the movie," he says. "I've spent 13 years on this project ever since I read the book, loved it and sent someone to buy it." Weinstein had initially been insisting that Daldry deliver his cut of the film October 3rd. He's now given Daldry until Nov. 5th to deliver the film. Weinstein says even with an extra investment of funds, "this is way more economical. It'll cost more in the short run, but less in the long run by having it out this year."
Rudin is hopeful of persuading "Reader" co-star Kate Winslet to support the film's Oscar campaign. The actress has seriously divided loyalties, being the co-star of both "The Reader" and "Revolutionary Road," a film directed by her husband, Sam Mendes, that is also expected to be a big awards season contender. "There are personal complications," Rudin says. "But I spoke to her today about what's going on. She's knows this is complicated, but I think she intends to support the film."
Just a few days ago, Rudin predicted that it might take [legendary UN Secretary General] Dag Hammarskjold to broker a peace between the two men. For now, everything is lovey-dovey. But Rudin and Weinstein have had such a contentious relationship over the years that everyone will be watching closely to see how long the good vibes last. I guess if Bill Clinton can make peace with Barack Obama, maybe anything can happen. Stay tuned.