Jerry Weintraub Makes Magical Movies
By Scott Huver
What's left to be said about the man George Clooney calls “truly the greatest showman on Earth,” who built John Denver’s career, managed Elvis, Sinatra and Led Zeppelin on tour and assembled event films like Ocean’s Eleven? Since no one pitches a winner like überproducer Jerry Weintraub, we went to the man himself.
First, don’t consider this year’s memoir When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man and the upcoming documentary on his (larger-than) life a valedictory tour. “I truly never look back,” says Weintraub, 73, at his Beverly Hills home (in a neighborhood where, at nine, he once collected autographs from front-yard-tending stars/future friends like Jimmy Stewart). “It’s really been a new chapter in my life. It’s about what I did and what I accomplished—but it’s not a victory lap. It’s a lesson on life. That’s the way I look at it, because I’m already working on a sequel.”
“I celebrate the fact that I’m still here, and I get up every day,” he chuckles. “I expect to have even bigger successes in the future.” He prefers better over bigger, but knows big is a given. “If you look back on what I’ve done, I always make events out of things. I can’t help myself. That’s part of what I do. No matter what it is—small or big or in-between—I make an event out of it.”
He’s well aware of the P.T. Barnum-esque perception attached to him, equal parts salesman and showman—“I’m going to sell you something, you’re going to enjoy it, and you’re going to enjoy it after I sell it to you”—but his is no huckster act. “People don’t realize how hard I work on what I do. Nothing just happens. There’s a reason for everything I do and every move I make. I happen to be able to do it because I’m Houdini on the telephones.” The magician continues to conjure. “I’m in the middle of doing something now that is bigger than anything I’ve ever done,” he says. “If it comes together, it’ll make history and be fantastic!” We’ll totally buy that.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TRUNKARCHIVE.COM