James Gandolfini of The Sopranos fame had once threatened to beat up Harvey Weinstein over a battle of PR strategy. The incident, although not newsworthy in itself, stands out due to its timeline. Harvey Weinstein was once the king of the Hollywood Hills and consequentially untouchable. But for Gandolfini, that wasn’t a valid reason to submit to Weinstein’s every whim. 9 years after the death of the legendary actor, The Sopranos cast recounts the incident in all its glory.
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The Clash of Wills: James Gandolfini vs Harvey Weinstein
The years after the mafia crime drama skyrocketed to fame, the cast was faced with an increasing spotlight shining exclusively upon them. No exception to the rules of the paparazzi, series lead James Gandolfini aka Tony Soprano aka the godfather of television too had his fair share of being pandered to the masses. But this was where he drew the line. Gandolfini was infamously absent from talk shows and promotional press. Instead, he found the more respectable hour-long setting of CBS News’ 60 Minutes as the only acceptable option.
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But this was a point of contention for Harvey Weinstein. When The Sopranos star appeared in the 2012 Andrew Dominik crime drama Killing Them Softly, Harvey Weinstein approached James Gandolfini with the prospect of promoting the movie on The Late Show With David Letterman. Weinstein Co. being the principal distributor of the film gave the Hollywood producer ample authority to ask this of his lead actor. However, Gandolfini resolutely stood his ground.
Steve Schirripa and Michael Imperioli later recalled on The Joe Rogan Experience what had happened after the litany of calls from Harvey Weinstein kept bugging The Sopranos veteran.
“[James Gandolfini] said, ‘Harvey Weinstein keeps calling, he wants me to do Letterman and I said no.’ And he got f**king nasty with Jim. Jim said, ‘I will beat the f**k out of Harvey Weinstein! He f**king calls me again, I will beat the f**k out of him! For the money he paid me, I’m not f**king doing it!’ Swear to God. And this is before all the Harvey Weinstein s**t, when he was still king s**t.”
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The Harvey Weinstein Drama Still Rages On
The producer had once stood as the face and edifice of Hollywood. His label bore the trademark of success. And his wealth and stature made Weinstein practically untouchable. But the Hollywood power broker was soon faced with multiple sexual abuse allegations when several victims came forward leading to the public disclosure of one of the most high-profile scandals of this era. In February 2020, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison after a Manhattan jury had found him guilty of rape and assault. He was later extradited to California to face multiple other charges and is scheduled to appear in court on 10th October 2022.
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His clash with The Sopranos star was not the only time he managed to upset a Hollywood personality. James Cameron admitted to Vanity Fair in a 2017 article how the two had clashed over their opposing opinions and almost broke out into a fight in the middle of the 1998 Oscars ceremony — “I remember almost getting in a fight with Harvey Weinstein and hitting him with my Oscar. It was happening on the main floor at the [theatre]… The people around us were saying, ‘Not here! Not here!’.”
Recently, Kevin Smith too claimed that Weinstein was sitting on the rights to his religious comedy film, Dogma by “holding it hostage” which had essentially rendered the movie a lost film status in the current streaming era.
The Sopranos is currently streaming on Disney+