Jerry Weintraub, the larger-than-life producer whose films included Nashville, Diner, The Karate Kid and the trio of Ocean’s films, died yesterday of cardiac arrest in Santa Barbara. He had been in poor health largely. He was 77. Weintraub was an old-school, Hollywood showman. He was a snappy dresser, and he knew how to work a room and the press.
After he got out of the Air Force he worked in the mailroom of MCA and was quickly was promoted to an agent and by the early ’70s he had built a large business. Concerts West was co-owned with Tom Hulett and booked big-name talent like Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys. Weintraub was among the first to book top talent into concert tours held in big stadiums and he expanded into films, as exec producer first on the Altman-‘s Nashville in 1975.
His 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven directed by Steven Soderbergh had and an A-List cast topped by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. It grossed $451 million worldwide. The sequels Ocean’s Twelve ($362 million), and Ocean’s Thirteen ($311 million) put him back on top after a series of no-so successful ventures. He also produced Soderbergh’s acclaimed Liberace biodrama Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.He also shepherded the current HBO series The Brink, and a limited series adaptation of the 70s fantasy adventure Westworld and a new Tarzan film for 2016. Douglas McGrath’s documentary His Way told Weintraub’s life-story. He told Variety in 2007:
“I’m an entrepreneur — I’ve been an independent guy all my life. I love doing what I do. I love the movies, I love actors, I love directors, I love writers, I love working with the studio, I love the marketing, I love the whole process.”
(Photo, Getty; via Variety)