PARIS – While the French presidential elections are just around the corner, Nicolas Sarkozy took a pause from politics on Wednesday to name Harvey Weinstein an official member of the French Legion of Honor at a private ceremony in Paris.
Weinstein and wife Georgina Chapman arrived at the Elysee Palace around noon for the prestigious ceremony that recognized The Weinstein Company’s co-chairman for his contribution to cinema throughout his long career. The decoration, that gave Weinstein status as a knight in the Legion of Honor took place in the President’s office.
The French government had contacted Weinstein even before The Artist won five Oscars including Best Film of the year, but Weinstein preferred to wait until after the ceremony. French press is reporting that sources at the Elysee say that a lunch with Sarkozy for The Artist’s producers and talent, including Hollywood breakout star Jean Dujardin, is being organized. The film’s triumph has been a welcome escape for the country currently in the midst of a heated run up to the first round of the presidential elections, however politics have still been in the spotlight.
Weinstein spoke out against former presidential candidate, right-wing extremist Jean Marie Le Pen last week after Le Pen criticized the Weinstein Co’s Gallic acquisition The Intouchables. The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius has also expressed his political beliefs, telling BFMTV on Tuesday: “Being republican, I don’t want to say no to the president, but being republican, it would bother me to say yes to the candidate,” adding that, in the case of an invitation to lunch, “We’ve found a good solution. We’ll go and eat with the president, but afterwards, we’ll go and see the other candidate Francois Hollande.”
The Artist’s producing-directing-starring team don’t seem to be feeling the jetlag after their whirlwind tour of Los Angeles for César awards and Oscars weekend. The party continued in their native France on Tuesday night with a soirée for the film at Le Georges restaurant. Weinstein joined the film’s producer Thomas Langmann, director Hazanavicius and stars Dujardin and Berenice Bejo for an intimate gathering that also welcomed Salma Hayek, Elsa Zylberstein, Gilles Lellouche and Patrice Leconte among other Gallic talent. Hazanavicus and Langmann were also out on the town on Monday night to fete the premiere of Florent Emilio Siri‘s CloClo with another roomful of Gallic stars and Studiocanal execs.
Weinstein was in Paris just in time for the end of Fashion Week. The producer has said he’s been wooing this year’s blue-haired Fashion Week regular Katy Perry for a role in his upcoming Paul Potts biopic.
Weinstein’s romp with French cinema is far from over. The Weinstein Company will release box office smash The Intouchables stateside in May and has also snagged distribution rights to Dujardin’s latest film, sketch comedy The Players.