Harvey Weinstein knows how to cajole Oscar voters come awards season. His resume is chockablock with Oscar-winning films, and while he has a nose for talented fare he's also gifted in persuading the right people to vote his way.
Now, Weinstein is putting pressure on the ratings board to reduce the rating of his upcoming film "Bully" from R to PG:13. He claims today's teens need to see the film, which follows five actual cases of bullying. It's a teachable moment, the producer argues, and an important documentary kids shouldn't be deprived of due to its restricted rating.
Weinstein's campaign has recently been joined by Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. When Weinstein speaks, people act.
But let's call this what it is - a marketing campaign, not a human rights initiative.
The Motion Picture Association of America, which determines movie ratings, will open itself up to constant second guessing and bloviating from worried filmmakers if it bends for "just this one instance." R-rated film often make less than their PG and PG:13 peers thanks to a smaller potential audience.
And, much more importantly, "Bully" could be bleeped in a few key spots to reduce its current rating without losing the alleged power of the message.
This isn't about ratings. It's a publicity campaign being orchestrated by a master. And Weinstein's celebrity pals are playing right along.
The film could easily be released on home video in its R-rated version. That's the format that will last far longer than what's seen on the screen for a few weeks this year. The bullying issue isn't going away, so the form that matters most is the one teens will have access to once the film shifts to its post-theatrical release plans.
Bravo to Weinstein for playing the industry like a Stradivarius. Let's hope the MPAA can tune out Weinstein's bullying tactics.