NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new documentary about Hollywood producer and music promoter Jerry Weintraub recalls the best stories from all the A-list celebrities he knows.
The documentary, “His Way,” which debuts on cable channel HBO on Monday, includes amusing tales from Weintraub about working with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and John Denver, as well as interviews with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and former President George H.W. Bush.
Weintraub, now 73, who also released a memoir last year, talked to Reuters about what it takes to make it in showbiz.
Q: What did you learn growing up in the Bronx?
A: “That was a great training ground for character and honesty and friendship and loyalty.”
Q: You’re known as a tenacious individual and producer. Where did your tenacity come from?
A: “It started when I was about 11. I wanted a jacket and my father gave me an example of how you get a jacket — ‘First you get a job, then you get coin, then you get a jacket, that’s how it works’.”
Q: How did you sign Elvis to a tour without knowing him?
A: “I don’t listen to people when they say no. And I don’t listen to people when they tell me that I have a bad idea ... and that’s my tenacity. I just keep going until it gets done. I called (Elvis’ manager) every day for a year, every morning it was my first call.”
Q: Clearly you have never been afraid of rejection?
A: “No, rejection is part of life!”
Q: You had a falling out with singer John Denver and your friends in the film say you took it harder than you showed?
A: “It mattered to me on a personal level because I found him and nurtured him and I brought him along. And I put a lot of time and effort and energy into him, and love. And so I had a broken heart, but not a broken wallet.”
Q: Moving onto Hollywood, your role in helping make Robert Altman’s “Nashville”...
A: “I didn’t help, I made it (laughs). I am only kiddin’... I get up smiling every day and I make jokes all day and I laugh all day, because this is all craziness and I am in some kind of zone now. I feel like I am on another planet.”
Q: Why is that?
A: “People are going crazy over this movie. They went crazy over the book ... it’s quite extraordinary at this point in my life that I find myself this celebrity, star, whatever you want to call it after I have been doing that for everybody else for 53 years. So it’s a big change. It’s all a hoot.”
Q: So you’re a celebrity now? How do you like it?
A: “I’m having a great time. I don’t like the cameras in my face all day long. I can’t come out of a restaurant anymore!”
Q: Of all your movies, what was the hardest to make?
A. “This one about me. That was the hardest because I had no control. I turned over the control of my life to other people. I did not produce the movie.”
Q: So you did not have any kind of final cut approval?
Q; Why are there not more enemies in the film?
A; “Well, who is my enemy? Hitler is dead (laughs). I don’t have any enemies.”
Q: How do you get to where you are without a few enemies?
A: “I am a nice guy and I know what I am doing. And I am a good marketing guy and I know how to sell things... You don’t have to be mean and nasty and screaming and yelling and doing bad things to people to succeed in life.”
Q: The doc touches on a certain charm you have women?
A: “I have had many, many love affairs in my life with many different women all over the world, and I have never had a problem with that. If it was a woman I wanted to be with, I was with her, which is pretty good, pretty lucky.”
Q: Are people in Hollywood, do you think, uncomfortable with your two ongoing long-term relationships with partner Susie Ekins, and wife Jane Morgan, as shown in the film?
A: “It’s not a menage-a-trois. It’s two women who both happen to love me. Two fantastic, incredible women. We have reached a place in our lives where we can all handle it.”
Q: Producer George Schlatter said you ‘could get bored in an avalanche.’ What drives you now?
A: “What he means by that, is that I have to keep working, and I am not going to quit and just sit around or play golf or play cards, that I am going to work until I die.”
Q: What advice to you give people to get what they want?
A: “Here is what I feel about life. If you have something that you believe in, that you want to do, that you want to accomplish, you can’t listen to anybody. You have to do what your heart tells you to do and your mind tells you to do. Just do it, just go for it. Don’t be afraid of it.”
editing by Bob Tourtellotte