The saga between Harvey Weinstein and MPAA deepens today. As you might remember, the ratings board slapped an R on the upcoming documentary "Bully," effectively preventing the very kids it was made for from seeing the film. Yesterday, Harvey attended an appeals hearing accompanied by Alex Libby, one of the bullied kids in the picture. The MPAA re-voted on the matter, and once again, came back with an R-rating for the film, another decision that once again shows this mysterious body to be hugely out of touch. Apparently, Harv needed a 2/3 majority to get the rating overturned, but lost by one vote. And that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
In a statement released to the press, an impassioned and probably infuriated Harvey said: "As of today, The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far. I have been through many of these appeals, but this one vote loss is a huge blow to me personally. Alex Libby gave an impassioned plea and eloquently defended the need for kids to be able to see this movie on their own, not with their parents, because that is the only way to truly make a change.
With school-age children of my own, I know this is a crucial issue and school districts across the U.S. have responded in kind. The Cincinnati school district signed on to bus 40,000 of their students to the movie – but because the appeals board retained the R rating, the school district will have to cancel those plans.
I personally am going to ask celebrities and personalities worldwide, from Lady Gaga (who has a foundation of her own) to the Duchess of Cambridge (who was a victim of bullying and donated wedding proceeds) to First Lady Michelle Obama (whose foundation has reached out to us as well), to take a stand with me in eradicating bullying and getting the youth into see this movie without restriction."
So, what does this all mean? Well, you gotta hand it to Harv, he knows how to spin these things. First, let's consider this "leave of absence." Let's just bear in mind it's very easy to ponder stepping away from the MPAA when the next film your studio plans to release doesn't arrive until May 25th ("The Untouchables"). That's basically three months from now, but this big blustery maybe-move does allow Harv to milk it to get publicity for the documentary, and lord does he know how to work those teats.
And it's a pretty sly move to invoke the names of Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama, because it's another way of indirectly casting the MPAA in the light of being out-of-touch and uncool, without coming right out and saying it. Again, a brilliant masterstroke, but we'll see if those names tie themselves to the film.
Does Harvey believe in the film? We're sure he does, but his publicity antics are both tiresome and effective (here we are writing about it). And the bottom line is, he's still gonna do his damnedest to get the movie in front of the kids who need to see it, and frankly, there is no one better at pushing a movie he believes in than Harv. We'd want him behind our film (if we ever made one). But this whole MPAA vs. The Weinstein Company kind of just reminds us of this clip from "The Simpsons."