Harvey Weinstein continues to be a major figure in the television industry, through his production firm The Weinstein Company. Current shows include Project Runway, Mob Wives, and The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and the company is working on martial-arts epic Marco Polo for Starz.
Weinstein took the final Media Mastermind keynote slot at MIPCOM today, talking about his work, plans for 2013 and his views on the industry.
Why get back into TV now? “TV now has become so exciting,” said Weinstein. “You can do exciting things in television, and there’s an audience for it, and there’s an appetite. The movie business to some extent is shrinking, and we have to look for new horizons.”
The Weinstein Company is ramping up its television activities, including drama and reality shows. How is he looking to make money in television?
“Today, we see that with a show like Project Runway there’s all sorts of fasgion outlets we can plug in digitally, creating networks… Netflix gives you a second life in the United States, it’s extremely popular,” he said, citing his own daughter as an example of someone who rediscovers older shows on Netflix.
“If you’re creative and you can make something on a budget, there’s a worldwide appetite for these shows.”
Weinstein talked enthusiastically about Marco Polo, filmed in China “where you really can have 3,000 extras in a scene”, and talked about the importance of owning rights as an independent producer. “At the end of the day quality always rules,” he noted, while saying The Weinstein has also had some great partners on the broadcasting side.
How does he feel about the television business as a whole, and the disruption coming from companies like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. “I think it all matters, but at the end of the day it’s good stories that rule everything… I think more of a premium should be placed on content and a lot of the work that independent producers do.”
And then a surprise: Weinstein is making a show with Irish dancer Michael Flatley, who came on-stage to join him and explain the concept. “When Harvey and I first spoke, we decided we wanted to do something great together,” he said.
That thing being the World Dance Awards – a global awards ceremony for dancers. “We owe this to the millions and millions of kids around the world who dance… This should be done for Fred Astaire, for Gene Kelly… for Michael Jackson,” said Flatley.
Weinstein added “If this show has a cousin, it’s the Grammys” – but including more performances and even competition on the night. “It’s going to be a game changer for all the networks that buy the show… This is going to be a ratings blockbuster that the people who buy it early will have year after year after year.”
“The sky’s the limit, we’ve got to reach all the little children,” adds Flatley. The show was his idea, pitched to Weinstein. “It was an easy sell for me, oh yeah,” grinned Weinstein.
Will he stop doing film as a result of this move into making more and more-ambitious TV shows? “Not yet!”