(1952 - )
Harvey Weinstein is an American film producer and movie studio chairman best known as co-founder of Miramax Films.
Weinstein was born on March 19, 1952 in Flushing, New York and grew up in a Jewish family in New York City. After high school, he attended university at SUNY-Buffalo.
In the late 1970's, together with his brother Bob, Harvey created a small independent film distribution company called Miramax, named after their parents - Miriam and Max. The company's first releases were primarily music-oriented concert films such as Paul McCartney's Rockshow. The Weinsteins slowly built upon this success throughout the 1980s with arthouse films that achieved critical attention and modest commercial success. Harvey Weinstein and Miramax gained wider attention in 1988 with the release of Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line which detailed the struggle of Randall Adams, a wrongfully convicted inmate sentenced to death row. The publicity that soon surrounded the case resulted in the release of Adams and nationwide publicity for Miramax. In 1989, their successful launch release of Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape propelled Miramax to become the most successful independent studio in America.
Miramax continued to grow its library of films and directors until, in 1993, after the success of The Crying Game, Disney offered the Weinsteins $80 million for ownership of Miramax. Agreeing to the deal that would cement their Hollywood clout and ensure that they would remain at the head of their company, Miramax followed the next year with their first blockbuster, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and distributed the popular independent film Clerks.
Weinstein accepted Miramax's first Best Picture Academy Award in 1996 with the victory of The English Patient (Pulp Fiction was nominated in 1994 but lost to Forrest Gump).
Weinstein was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his contributions to the British film industry. He was also made a Chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Consulate in New York City in recognition of Miramax's efforts to increase the presence and popularity of foreign films in the United States.
Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB; Photo Credit: David Shankbone (2010)