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Megan Ellison Hates Harvey Weinstein & More: 7 Highlights From The Juicy Vanity Fair Profile On The Annapurna Scion

by Edward Davis
February 1, 2013 10:00 AM
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Harvey Weinstein Paul Thomas Anderson Joaquin Phoenix

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....

Zero Dark Thirty Jessica Chastain Jason Clarke
5. Ellison reportedly vowed to never work with Weinstein again.
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.

Side Effects, Rooney
7. Ellison ungraciously backed out of Steven Soderbergh's “Side Effects”
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.

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  • RC | February 7, 2013 3:51 PMReply

    Harvey killed KILLING THEM SOFTLY for one simple reason: it shined a less than messianic light on Obama. He pushed the release date until after the election while he helped Obama's re-election campaign. Isn't that obvious?

  • Bentley | February 5, 2013 10:22 PMReply

    Why would anyone be surprised that Megan Ellison doesn't want Harvey Weinstein to distribute Blonde after the way he botched the KTS marketing? Let this be a lesson to Harvey - if you market a movie for what it really is, then maybe, just maybe people will go to see it for what it is and won't get pissed and tell exit pollers and friends that the movie was not as advertised. It would also have been nice if TWC hadn't thrown KTS under the bus because they had too many other movies to promote during awards season and didn't have the time to devote to a proper marketing campaign for KTS. TWC lost money because of it. If he'd left KTS in it's original Sept release date instead of shuffling it back to the end of November after the election then maybe the movie would have made more money.

  • jingmei | February 5, 2013 12:47 AMReply

    As a personal figure, perhaps she's a moviegoer with some taste indeed. But in today's world, she is rich, so inevitably it's ironic but it's true this business needs her especially when the indie films are fucking awesome.

  • brent wood | February 3, 2013 1:10 PMReply

    once again we learn that CAA can be the most dangerous player in H'wood.
    congrats for going up against the Big Bad Wolf.
    what's curious is how blase Jessica is upon learning how obstructionist her agents were.
    nothing with change in H'wood until the agents are brought under control and that
    will only happen if actors rebel. alas, fat chance as actors really can't think. they act.

  • Truth | February 11, 2013 11:39 AM

    Alan B, her agents should've at least known her taste enough to let her know she was being pursued...and obviously she was able to do the movie, so the other commitments didn't seem to be a problem. That's pretty bad form for the agents.

  • Alan B | February 3, 2013 3:59 PM

    She was busy with Iron Man 3. She couldn't do the film without backing out of other commitments. I guess her agents are assholes for expecting her to honor previous commitments. What were they thinking?

  • nightgoat72 | February 1, 2013 8:04 PMReply

    Oh no! A young woman who doesn't care about all the Hollywood business bureaucracy and bullshit is giving away money to talented filmmakers! And she DOESN'T SEEM TO CARE ABOUT PROFITS BECAUSE SHE'S RICH?! God help us all!

    Yeah, Megan Ellison is awesome. Cinema would be richer with more people like her.

  • nightgoat72 | February 2, 2013 1:05 PM

    And that makes a difference... why? Her dad being rich equates to her being rich.

  • Tyler | February 1, 2013 11:53 PM

    She's not rich......her daddy is.

  • Tyler | February 1, 2013 11:47 PM

    She's not rich......her daddy is.

  • Tyler | February 1, 2013 11:47 PM

    She's not rich......her daddy is.

  • Serena | February 1, 2013 3:14 PMReply

    Any young woman who uses her money to support artists like the Coens, PTA and Kathryn Bigelow is alright in my book. Sounds like she needs to prioritize her etiquette and when to say "No," but as an audience member all I really care about is the finished product, not how much money it made/lost. And it's hard not to dislike the Oscar-hoarding Harvey Weinstein; the only cool thing he ever did was fight for BLUE VALENTINE when the MPAA slapped it with an NC-17 rating, and even that was likely due to financial reasons.

  • royal_t32 | February 1, 2013 3:00 PMReply

    Playlist doesn't need to run these kinds of articles. It's unethical in my book to take so much from a profile that your readership won't likely read now you've poached the best reporting from it. Stick to original content and you'll get more respect from your readership. To be sarcastic and sincere at once, I would like to see Playlist try to put together an original feature of this magnitude and quality on a single individual.

  • knative | February 1, 2013 4:04 PM

    Eh, I don't think it works like that. The playlist peeps are more likely helping to raise awareness. I mean, who is going "Vanity Fair has an article on Megan Ellison that I am anticipating!"?

  • Richard | February 1, 2013 1:14 PMReply

    When Hollywood starts making films based on quality, rather than franchise potential, they will then be given my permission to bitch about a young woman who is putting up her own money (regardless of the fact that it was inherited) to advance the art form. Good for her.

  • DG | February 1, 2013 12:56 PMReply

    Who gives a shit what the execs think about her as long as she keeps funding good filmmakers I say good on her. Seriously if there is even one auteur helmed film getting release that wouldn't have otherwise seen the light of day then I think she's done something worthwhile, and it seems like there are actually several. People seem to be complaining cause she's not playing by the rules but the rules are to a game that's currently produced a situation in which the Hungry, Hungry Hippos movies gets greenlit but Jim Jarmusch is talking in interviews about retiring because he can't get funding for anything he wants to do.

  • Huffy | February 1, 2013 12:16 PMReply

    To everyone pissing and moaning about the executive complaining about not replying to an email: it's called common courtesy. Your expected to have it in any kind of profession, not just Hollywood. Not that I really care; its not me she's being rude to. And obviously she has plenty of fuck you money so she can really do whatever she wants but it isn't going to change the perception that she's a spoiled rich kid who had everything handed to her. Anyone who has had to work their way up knows connections and relationships go a long way, and pissing people off for no good reason is never a good idea if your in it for the long run. This isn't a judgement on her character, it's merely an observation. It's cool to have someone doing what all of us wish we could do (being rich enough to tell Harvey to fuck off is also a plus) but I seriously doubt that Papa Ellison is going to let her do what she pleases if her films continue to lose money.

  • Yod | February 3, 2013 9:36 PM

    Imagine how many emails and phone calls she gets, though. Unlike you, who probably gets so few you can reply to all of them.

  • Andrew | February 1, 2013 12:34 PM

    More like laughing rather than pissing or moaning. Yes, it's discourteous to fail to reply to someone's e-mail, but the idea that there's somewhat out there petty and insecure enough to complain to a reporter about something so trivial is pretty hilarious.

    Not replying to an e-mail is roughly the rudeness equivalent of failing to hold the door open for someone a few feet behind you when entering a building.

  • ben | February 1, 2013 12:07 PMReply

    Of course she's a spoiled rich kid. Not surprising. But I only care about where she puts her money. As long as she keeps pulling out the checkbook..

  • bohmer | February 1, 2013 12:06 PMReply

    She young and have taste. Weinstein cannot stand her because she's a powerful women that wants put herself in his shoes. She doesn't seem to loose that much money and she as the rights to the Terminator franchise isn't she? That will definitely turn to profit...

  • kindred spirit | February 1, 2013 11:26 AMReply

    LMAO as Blake Lively making outrageous salary demands. Seriously- this is the best part of the piece. Who the heck does she think she is? Girl, you are a TV actress and a big flop... SIT DOWN.

  • Lou | February 2, 2013 2:33 PM

    Kindred spirit, what I meant was that, for all we know, Lively (= her agent) might have asked for only 500K USD, which might have been considered an 'outrageous request' by Ellison, who used this as a justification for withdrawing her financing and substituting Lively with Mara. She humiliated Lively and disrespected and blackmailed the director. Hence, she acted in an inelegant manner, to say the least. Anyway, talking about TV actors, this film sounds like an episode of Criminal Intent without the stellar, formidable Goren and Eames.

  • Kindred Spirit | February 1, 2013 8:21 PM

    Not defending Ellison, Lou. But for Lively to make anything that has to do with outrageous salary demands is HIGH-larious. And I'm sure Rooney Mara, who may have zero personality but happens to be a great actress, was fine with whatever salary they were offering. If anything Mara is in a position to negotiate, not Lively who is the floppiest actress of all flops.

  • Lou | February 1, 2013 12:50 PM

    Making outrageous salary demands? Uhmmm. Exactly, how much? It sounds like a fake justification for an unethical behaviour. Ellison definitely handled herself poorly in this case.

  • W | February 1, 2013 12:45 PM

    I bet she thought being Dicaprio side piece made her an A-List.

  • dudeabides | February 1, 2013 11:20 AMReply

    This is some great gossip. Lol at the guy who doesnt get a reply email, get a fucking life and grow some balls dude! This is the same as any other industry that is male dominated. Kudos to Ellison for making really interesting films with great filmmakers, I'm sure she'll get better with the money part of the equation as time goes by. I mean she's 25 yrs old! Cant wait for Spring Breakers and The Grandmaster!

  • MAL | February 1, 2013 11:12 AMReply

    Just based on the films she is backing, I like her! She has taste, and does not seem to be "courting the stars". Rather, she is fighting fo r quality. So what if she doesn't play by their antiquated, politicized rules.

  • Sandra | February 1, 2013 10:55 AMReply

    Still my idol

  • Alex | February 1, 2013 10:44 AMReply

    It's still early days with her. She's financing good films and establishing a name for herself. The films she has financed haven't really lost too much money. Plus she is rich so she can afford a few failures at the age of 26. Worst comes to worst she will be known as a cinematic philanthropist.

    Remember just a few years ago Harvey Weinstein was releasing many awful films that never turned a profit.

  • Andrew | February 1, 2013 10:34 AMReply

    "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."

    Gotta give this guy credit. He's very efficient at conveying "I'm a whiney little bitch."

  • cinephile | February 1, 2013 10:25 AMReply

    'many cinephiles believe'

    laziest way to insert your own opinion ever

  • cory everett | February 1, 2013 10:10 AMReply

    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.”

    Well boo-fucking-hoo.

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