Brian De Palma and David Mamet plan to write about a Hollywood takedown, but are they missing the bigger story?
There are two types of (non-superhero) projects that Hollywood executives love to greenlight: stories of current events ripped from the headlines, and stories about Hollywood. So it’s no surprise that several creative projects based on Harvey Weinstein’s skydive from grace are already in the works.
The latest is the brainchild of veteran director Brian De Palma, who announced Friday that his next movie will be inspired by the alleged crimes of Harvey Weinstein.
“My character won’t be named Harvey Weinstein but it will be a horror film, with a sexual aggressor, and it will take place in the film industry.”
The thriller virtuoso is throwing his hat into a competitive ring. Two other Weinstein inspired projects are already in development, a David Mamet play, and an as yet un-helmed film in development at Annapurna and Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Mamet has said his Weinstein play “Bitter Wheat”, which he first announced in the Chicago Tribune, will also focus on Weinstein’s misconduct and the resulting fallout.
“Every society has to confront the ungovernable genie of sexuality and tries various ways to deal with it and none of them work very well. There is great difficulty when you are switching modes, which we seem to be doing now. People go crazy. They start tearing each other to bits.”
It’s unsurprising that so far, the storytellers set to tackle Weinstein are men in Weinstein’s peer group. De Palma and Mamet built their careers at the same time as Weinstein, in the same Hollywood that allowed Weinstein to devolve into a movie industry monster. They no doubt have stories to tell and frustrations to vent. It makes sense that the element of the Weinstein story that they would highlight in an adaptation is Weinstein’s horrific behavior.
However, the story of how Weinstein was able to abuse his power for decades has already proven to be far greater than the simple narrative of a horrendous Hollywood producer. If Weinstein’s contemporaries write the tale of Harvey Weinstein as mere material for a pulpy horror romp or as the story of an “ungovernable genie of sexuality” and not the story of a systemized cover-up that spanned multiple industries and included numerous complicit actors, then they will have completely missed the mark.
The fallout from Weinstein’s ousting and arrest has already included a global cultural movement, the creation of a legal defense fund for victims, and an avalanche of allegations against other powerful men in and out of entertainment. Films like Jennifer Fox’s The Tale and TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, though not directly inspired by Weinstein, are already mining the cultural moment he inadvertently created in order to tell stories about abuse, power, silence, and the necessity of women’s voices.
The Weinstein film in development at Annapurna and Plan B will not be set in Hollywood. It will tell the story of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who worked for over a year to break the Harvey Weinstein news. In a post-Weinstein media landscape that is already looking far beyond the actions of Weinstein himself, odds are good that this Weinstein project, not De Palma’s or Mamet’s, has the best chance of making an impact.