PGA awards the Weinsteins the 2013 Milestone award

Posted by · 5:00 pm · July 23rd, 2012

It’s late July, that balmy time of year when everyone’s thoughts naturally turn to the Producers’ Guild of America Awards, due to take place on January 26 next year — a mere six months away. And as of today, we know who will be receiving at least one of them. Whether or not The Weinstein Company manages a three-peat with the Guild’s top prize — after “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist” were both named the year’s best by the PGA — their founding brothers will still take the stage, as Bob and Harvey Weinstein are to receive the Guild’s Milestone Award for “historic contributions to the entertainment industry.”

I know what you’re thinking. It’s about time these unassuming industry serfs received a little recognition for their tireless background work. But in all seriousness, an award for the Weinsteins from this guild isn’t quite as much of a sop as it initially sounds: while TWC, and Miramax before it, have been rewarded for various productions, the brothers themselves have never claimed a PGA trophy. Harvey has been nominated as a producer for “Shakespeare in Love” and “Gangs of New York,” as well as in the TV category for reality show “Project Runway,” losing on all three occasions. Bob hasn’t one nomination to his name.

You could argue that the PGA could have picked a more unsung honoree, but if the Milestone Award is intended the recognize the industry’s greatest movers and shakers — previous winners include Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, Clint Eastwood and James Cameron — how many contemporary producers are more worthy than Bob and Harvey Weinstein?

Sure, many of us may associate them with crafty Oscar campaigns and cannily tooled awards bait, but the Weinsteins changed the way independent and specialist cinema was perceived, distributed and marketed in the US, from “sex, lies and videotape” to “The Crying Game” to “Pulp Fiction” to, yes, “The English Patient” — not to mention the more genre-oriented output of their offshoot company Dimension Films, peaking with the “Scream” series.

They may take some flak for steering the odd vanilla film to awards glory, but they’ve long fought the good fight for more challenging fare, be it Miramax’s “The Piano” or The Weinstein Company’s “Blue Valentine.” (And frankly, whatever you make of “The Artist,” what other studio could have made an Oscar juggernaut out of a silent, black-and-white French production?) They’ve even coaxed American audiences to the odd documentary or foreign-language title — not always the most highbrow ones, but their great strength lies in knowing what will play, and to whom. Truth is, they opened the door for a lot of films that might be outside their own wheelhouse these days.

Meanwhile, the prize pony for the 2012 awards derby — barring any surprise arrivals on the fall festival circuit — currently looks to be Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” which should hopefully fall on the more adventurous side of their slate. Assuming it receives the desired reviews, they’ll be pushing hard for a third consecutive Best Picture win — which means January’s PGA Awards could be a very Weinstein-flavored night indeed.

Edited press release:

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that legendary filmmakers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, co-founders and Co-Chairmen of The Weinstein Company, will be honored with the 2013 Milestone Award. The award will be presented to the Weinsteins at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The Milestone Award is the Guild”s highest honor recognizing an individual or team who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry. In the past, the Producers Guild has paid tribute to such industry leaders as Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, James Cameron, Ron Meyer and last year”s 2012 recipient Leslie Moonves, among others.

“Beginning in the late 1970s with Miramax Films and continuing through today with The Weinstein Company, Bob and Harvey consistently seek out, nurture and help bring audiences the stories that others are often afraid to tell,” said Producers Guild National Board member and Awards Chair Michael De Luca (MONEYBALL, THE SOCIAL NETWORK). “Their passionate regard for the spectacular diversity and resolve of the human spirit has brought us such iconic and award-winning films as THE CRYING GAME, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, PULP FICTION, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, GOOD WILL HUNTING, THE KING”S SPEECH and most recently, THE ARTIST and the courageous documentary, BULLY. Bob and Harvey”s brave dedication to emerging producers and other storytellers has virtually redefined the term ‘independent film,” making it possible for some of our culture”s most vital stories to break out from the shadows of smaller arthouse theaters into the bright light of large multiplexes around the globe. We salute them for their contributions to our industry, and we are so proud to recognize them with the Guild”s highest honor.”

“We couldn”t be more thankful to our fellow producers and the many predecessors who”ve inspired us and guided the independent film world to its present state,” said Bob and Harvey Weinstein. “It is easy to be dedicated to something you love. Without our peers who”ve joined us in taking chances on the first time director or the unknown talent, and without the curious audiences who take chances on the movie with subtitles or better yet, no sound or color, we wouldn”t be where we are today. We”re deeply honored and humbled for this recognition from the Producers Guild of America for our life”s work.”

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

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