God bless these leaked Harvey-vs.-Rudin e-mails, all those ancient, unearthed Harvey Weinstein-on-Tarantino tapes, and all this endless Project Runway nonsense. The old, nasty Harvey is almost back! It’s been a sheer joy to read the latest chapters in the ongoing (and recently interrupted) demonology of Harvey Scissorhands, but it’s disappointing to read in “Page Six” that Harvey tried to squelch the whole story. Can’t such a gifted producer see a great story when he is one?
Harvey’s Raging Bully act has always seemed to be part-true, part-theater, and part-media-narrative. You can argue those percentages all day. Harvey might say 10–20–70, a hater might say 80–20–10, and through arbitration Harvey would force a settlement at 50–10–40, with lingering resentment on the back end. But the act works — or at least it did. Harvey’s films have always been bolstered by off-screen controversy just as much as they’ve been plagued by it. It was a great show.
Then he waged his final, good-guy fight with Disney over Fahrenheit 9-11 and Cold Mountain. It was the end of the Harvey Scissorhands age and the beginning of the benign Harvey-as-Responsible-Entrepreneur narrative. Only a historic ass like Ovitz could make Harvey look sympathetic — and he did. Harvey quit sugar, launched Weinstein Co., and cleaned up his act. But the role never suited Harvey — especially when he was pushing dull Weinstein Co. product like Hoodwinked. Lately, the Weinstein drama has been a downer. Recent Weinstein films like Factory Girl, School for Scoundrels and My Blueberry Nights haven’t been troubled, as in gossipy, juicy, behind-the-scenes “marital troubles” troubled — they’ve been tragic, depressing “troubles in the Balkans” troubled (critical flops, though on modest budgets). That’s no fun for anyone. Harvey as good-guy underdog is just not believable.
Harvey knows that audiences and critics love nothing more than to rally around an artist — from Wilco to Scorsese — whose vision has been compromised by some craven, bottom-line exec. That craven prick was once Harvey — and it can be again! The part comes naturally to him, even if he has truly reformed and needs to fake it now. And especially because so many people are gunning for him. Underdog just didn’t suit him, but against-the-ropes, comeback street fighter would. Please, Harvey, reboot yourself like Batman as a darker, scarier Harvey Scissorhands, as a grizzled, comeback Vince McMahon, pulled into the ring for one last round. Stir up some fake beefs with Tarantino and Rodriguez and Smith to rile up their fans. Forget all the oblique e-mails and rumored threats. Threaten, bully, and fight back.
This Oscar season, I want to see smackdowns. Mickey “Randy the Ram” Rourke and Fox Searchlight are already gloating — are you gonna take that? Throw Leo and Viggo in the ring. Let’s get ready to rumble.