Former Disney Head Michael Eisner Calls Old Foe Harvey Weinstein "an Incorrigible Bully"
Saying he "fired" the Weinsteins for being "irresponsible" when they ran Miramax for Disney, Eisner says he did not know of Harvey's "horrible actions."
Michael Eisner, who as the former CEO of the Walt Disney Company battled with the Weinstein brothers more than a decade ago, weighed in Tuesday on the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein by tweeting, “Fired Weinsteins because they were irresponsible, and Harvey was an incorrigible bully. Had no idea he was capable of these horrible actions.”
Bad blood has long existed between Eisner and the Weinsteins, who sold their first company Miramax to Disney for $60 million in 1993. While they continued to operate Miramax out of New York with a good deal of autonomy, the free-wheeling brothers soon chafed under corporate ownership and attempts at budget constraints. Disney also had final say over what movies they could release, refusing to allow them to send out controversial films like 1995’s Kids and 1999’s Dogma under the Miramax label. To get around those prohibitions, Weinstein bought back rights to the films — spending $3.5 million on Kids and $10 million on Dogma — and then self-distributed them on the side.
As Disney execs tried to impose spending controls on the Weinsteins, tensions reached a peak with Michael Moore’s 2004 political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which Weinstein financed to the tune of $6 million without Eisner’s knowledge. When Eisner discovered what Weinstein was up to, he ordered him to drop the film. But the Weinsteins ultimately bought back the film and found other distributors for what would become the top-grossing documentary of all time, collecting $222 million in worldwide grosses.
Eisner on Tuesday characterized the Weinsteins’ departure from Disney as a “firing,” although at the time it was reported that they negotiated their departure since their contract was due to expire in September 2005. While they left Miramax behind at Disney, they were allowed to take with them the Dimension genre label, run by Bob Weinstein, as they set up their new company, The Weinstein Co.