4. Harvey Weinstein, who has distributed several Annapurna films (“Killing Them Softly,” “The Master,” “Lawless”), has become an adversary.
We suppose this was only a matter of time. Apparently the Harvey/Megan relationship started strong but during postproduction on “Lawless” things began to go awry due to “the normal wear and tear of who was going to pay for what extra things,” a source told the magazine (Harvey apparently suggested a new cut of the film to which she agreed). When “The Master” failed to move the needle upon release, things reportedly started to get ugly.
“Harvey told Megan that the film wasn’t doing well because PTA and the actors weren’t doing enough press,” a source told Vanity Fair. “Now, that obviously doesn’t have much to do with it, but Harvey knows two things before he gets up in the morning: Megan thinks PTA is a god, and PTA isn’t going to do more press just because he’s asked. So that makes The Master’s receipts her fault. And she’s 25, so when he tells her that, she believes it. And then he tortures her about it.”
And their battling continued through “Killing Them Softly.” While Ellison wanted to the film to be released before the election (it was slated for September 21st and then bumped to October 19th), it was Harvey who moved it to November 30th. Meanwhile, Ellison refused to let Harvey make any changes to the film and denied him a chance to screen the movie for test audiences. So it's no surprise that....
David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper, the director and star of Weinstein’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and the untitled Abscam project that Ellison is producing, apparently tried to broker peace between the two parties. “We did ask her to consider [working with Harvey] in the future, and from there, that’s about her relationship with Harvey,” Russell told the magazine.
So basically, don't expect to see Harvey distributing Russell's next effort or any project involving Ellison.
6. Ellison’s the greatest. Ellison’s the worst.
Filmmakers and actors love her. Chastain, Jason Clarke, Bennett Miller, John Hillcoat, Andrew Dominik all speak glowingly of her in the piece. Even a rival producer Charles Roven (“The Dark Knight Rises”) sung her praises for not phoning it in with her wealth and just showing up at premieres. Perhaps one of the best examples of the schism in Hollywood comes from Miller, who has Annapurna producing and funding his next picture “Foxcatcher." “You’re making yourself an enemy of the state and a target [in Hollywood],” he told her. “And there will be prayers for your failure. But I can help. I will be here.”
Folks who aren’t filmmakers and stars though aren’t huge fans of her lack of ettiquette. “Megan likes to say no,” a film executive is quoted as saying. “She didn’t reply to my e-mail. The most powerful people in Hollywood actually return your e-mails. That’s the way it works here.” An industry veteran is also put-off by her. “Something strikes me as high school about Megan’s approach. She’s funding movies of the cool kids to hang out with the cool kids. With the hoodies and the attitude, it feels too studied.”
Whether or not it's Ellison learning how to navigate Hollywood, or the actions of someone who doesn't care about unwritten codes of conduct around town, not everyone has taken a shine to her.
Some won’t remember, but last year, before Open Road eventually came on board, Annapurna was set to finance Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects.” In fact, Ellison had agreed to do so and press releases went out announcing the film. You’ll recall we reported that Blake Lively was initially cast in the lead role and that Annapurna was picking up the tab – something that Vanity Fair confirms – but evidently due to Lively’s outrageous salary demands, Ellison got angry and pulled the plug 12 weeks before shooting was supposed to start (we'd heard some of this drama led to Rooney Mara eventually landing the lead role). VF says Ellison handled herself poorly and the “Side Effects” producers also discovered that Ellison hadn’t kept many elements of their deal confidential.
“In my experience, when you’re breaking up with someone, it’s proper form to call them,” Soderbergh is quoted as saying in the piece. “When ‘Moneyball’ blew up [the film, eventually directed by Bennett Miller, was originally Soderbergh’s project], Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal called me and said, ‘We’re shutting the movie down.’ You’re supposed to pick up the phone.”
But even Pascal makes allowances for the not-even-30-year-old heiress. “Don’t be quick to count her out,” she said. “Sometimes when you’re a woman, people judge you a little more harshly. I think that if Megan was a guy people wouldn’t be jumping on her as much.”
It’s certainly very possible. Is Ellison a target or a force to be reckoned with? Is she being judged fairly? Be sure to check out the profile Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue on stands now, take the phone off the hook and dive in. And let us know your thoughts below.