6:54pm PT by Kim Masters, Lesley Goldberg
Amazon "Reviewing" Weinstein Co. Series Amid Staff Concerns (Exclusive)
Several Amazon Studios executives — male and female, from various departments — have expressed concern about the company's involvement on two expensive and high-profile Weinstein Co. series amid a relentless series of revelations about Harvey Weinstein's conduct toward women.
The two series in question are The Romanoffs, an anthology series from Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, and an untitled drama from David O. Russell starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.
Asked for comment, Craig Berman, vp communications at Amazon Entertainment, said Tuesday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, "We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co."
In a Tuesday morning meeting presided over by head of television business affairs Dan Scharf, sources say, executives said they believed Amazon should be proactive and move quickly to extricate both shows from The Weinstein Co. without harming the projects or talent relationships. Sources tell THR that The Weinstein Co. has not put up any money for either of the shows, despite the company having committed to co-finance both.
While the $75 million Weiner anthology is in production and is said to be going smoothly, the Russell series is said to have already cost Amazon $40 million with only a handful of scripts turned in. Amazon Studios head Roy Price brought The Weinstein Co. into the Russell project to co-finance but from the start, Weinstein was contractually excluded from creative input. A source says Weiner's reps have conveyed to Amazon that the showrunner expects the Weinstein name to be eliminated from the series. Weiner did not respond to requests for comment.
The Romanoffs, an eight-episode individual episodic anthology, has already begun casting and had drawn a collection of Mad Men stars including Christina Hendricks and John Slattery. Production on the first few episodes has been completed and a planned hiatus to accommodate Weiner's forthcoming book tour is rapidly approaching. The plan as it stands now is for Weiner to complete work on the series after his tour ends.
As for the untitled Russell drama, sources say some in the Tuesday meeting advocated scrapping its two-season order, to which the streaming giant is said to have committed $160 million. (The price tag for the series was so high that other outlets declined even to hear the pitch.) Sources stress that the Russell project remains the top priority for Price, who has come under fire recently for the company's inability to produce a breakout hit a la Game of Thrones. De Niro is said to have secured $750,000 per episode for the series, which is still casting. Weinstein, sources say, convinced Price that he could control the notoriously temperamental Russell.
The news comes as The Weinstein Co. fired co-founder Weinstein following allegations of decades-long sexual harassment in the wake of a blistering New York Times story. On Tuesday, The New Yorker's exposé included rape allegations against Weinstein.
In the wake of the scandal, TWC execs informed TV networks that they could remove Weinstein's name from upcoming episodes. That starts Wednesday with Lifetime's Project Runway, which TWC produces. Apple, meanwhile, has already scrapped a planned four-show deal with TWC that was to have included miniseries revolving around Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Prince and Frank Sinatra.
Meanwhile, TWC's upcoming TV slate includes Paramount Network's Waco miniseries and Taylor Sheridan drama Yellowstone — both of which will help the Viacom cable network rebrand from Spike in January. Waco is said to have already completed production, while the Kevin Costner starrer Yellowstone is about half-done. Also half-completed is a Trayvon Martin docuseries from TWC and Weinstein's former adviser, Lisa Bloom.