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This story first appeared in the July 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The email always read simply: “Pls call.” You see, Jerry Weintraub didn’t do emails: “You’re a writer; you write. I’m a producer; I talk.”
Boy, was he a producer — the only real producer we’ve ever had the privilege of working with. He had your back, not his own. He wasn’t protecting his relationship with the studio or the network; he was protecting you and the project: “Everybody’s just scared. Not me — I don’t give a damn.” And he didn’t just attach his name and disappear: The minute he finished reading our spec script for The Brink (less than 24 hours after he had received it!), he became our irrepressible teammate, constantly meeting, calling, strategizing and pitching in on all fronts: “We need a big director. I’m having lunch with Jay Roach tomorrow — I’ll give him the script.” Just like that, we had our director. “We need movie stars, or as great as it is, no one’s gonna watch this thing!” Enter Jack Black and Tim Robbins.
The project became as precious to him as it was to us. He didn’t just take a shine to the material; he understood what made it tick. For example, Jerry knew that The Brink was something different and new for a half-hour comedy — he understood that it unfolded like a movie on a big scale. When it came time to show the pilot to HBO, Jerry didn’t want them to watch it on their laptops or iPads: “That’s bullshit!” So he refused to let them see it (a pilot they owned and had paid for!) until they agreed to sit in a proper screening room where they could get a sense of that scope and scale.
When the screening ended and the lights came up, Michael Lombardo ordered it to series in the room. Jerry was right. We soon learned that Jerry was always right: “I’m not always right, just most of the time.” We feel blessed to have known him and to have worked with him. There’s simply no one else like him anymore. He will be missed.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek