Jerry Weintraub (Producer) is one of the most influential and successful people in the entertainment industry, with a career spanning more than 50 years and encompassing the genres of feature films, television, theatre and music.
Weintraub had already enjoyed tremendous success in the management and music fields when he made an auspicious motion picture producing debut with Robert Altman's seminal 1975 feature film, "Nashville." Released to widespread acclaim, the film went on to earn five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. Over the next decade, Weintraub repeatedly demonstrated an eye for emerging talent, producing such features as "September 30, 1955," starring Richard Thomas under the direction of James Bridges; "Oh, God!," directed by Carl Reiner and starring George Burns and John Denver in his first acting role; Barry Levinson's directorial debut, "Diner," which helped launch the careers of Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Steve Guttenberg; and the inspiring drama "The Karate Kid," which spawned three sequels, the last one starring a young Hilary Swank.
Now heading up Jerry Weintraub Productions, he most recently produced the caper comedy "Ocean's Thirteen. The film reunited director Steven Soderbergh and an all-star ensemble cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle. Weintraub had previously produced the hit remake of the Rat Pack comedy "Ocean's Eleven" and its sequel, "Ocean's Twelve," both directed by Soderbergh. Additionally, Weintraub produced the family film "Nancy Drew," starring Emma Roberts as the intrepid teenage detective.
Jerry Weintraub Productions also has a number of films in development, including a new live-action version of "Tarzan" and a remake of the sci-fi actioner "Westworld," to name only a few.
Brooklyn-born and Bronx-bred, Weintraub likes to joke that his goal when starting out in entertainment was to get out of the Bronx. He began his career as a talent agent, eventually segueing to personal management. Forming Management III, he handled such names as The Muppets, Jack Paar and Norm Crosby, among others. His success opened the door to the music industry at the height of the Rock 'n Roll revolution. He produced the legendary Elvis Presley's first arena tour and, throughout the 1950s and '60s, continued to make his mark as a concert promoter for some of the biggest names in the business. Founding Concerts West, Weintraub broke new ground when he presented Frank Sinatra at Madison Square Garden in the celebrated "first around the world by satellite" concert, called "The Main Event." He also helped boost the careers of such renowned artists as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond, John Denver, The Carpenters and The Beach Boys.
Weintraub went on to produce a number of high-profile television specials and movies, many starring the musical artists with whom he had worked. In addition, he produced "An Olympic Gala," the telecast of the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Weintraub also produced several Broadway shows, including "Canterbury Tales" and "Starlight Express."
Returning to the motion picture arena, Weintraub was named Chairman and CEO of United Artists. He later left to form his own film and television production company, Weintraub Entertainment Group. Three years later, he founded Jerry Weintraub Productions, based at Warner Bros. Studios.
The first film produced under the Jerry Weintraub Productions banner was 1992's "Pure Country," starring country legend George Strait. Weintraub subsequently produced "The Specialist," starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone; "Vegas Vacation," starring Chevy Chase; the big-screen version of "The Avengers," teaming Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman; and the sci-fi actioner "Soldier," starring Kurt Russell.
In addition to his professional endeavors, Weintraub is well known for his philanthropic efforts on behalf of a wide variety of worthwhile causes, ranging from health concerns to education to the arts and more. He most recently joined forces with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle in "Not on Our Watch," a humanitarian campaign to end the genocide in Darfur.
Weintraub has also been the recipient of several professional honors. He was one of the first independent movie producers to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, in 2001, won the Kodak Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Filmmaking. He was named the 2007 ShoWest Producer of the Year, by the National Association of Theatre Owners. In June of 2007 he became the first producer ever to be "cemented" in the famous courtyard of Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre where he joined George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in a Hand and Footprint Ceremony in celebration of the opening of "Ocean's Thirteen." At the Boston Film Festival he was awarded the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. In December of 2007 he will receive a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars and in January of 2008 he will receive the SAG Foundation Patron of the Arts award.
In 2009 Weintraub was honored by UNICEF as Man of the Year with the organization's Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for his philanthropic contributions. In 2010 he was awarded the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award at Celebrity Fight Night XVI, an event that has raised nearly $60 million to benefit the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.
Now Weintraub has authored his memoirs: When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories From a Persuasive Man, a witty chronicle of his remarkable career and life journey. The book was published in April 2010, and a documentary of his life will be released later this year.