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Hollywood ‘god’ Weinstein rules at Oscars, again

LOS ANGELES (AFP) ― Meryl Streep famously called him “God.”

And Harvey Weinstein certainly looked omnipotent at the Oscars Sunday, showing again his peerless skills at campaigning for the coveted golden statuettes.

For the second year running the founder of The Weinstein Company steered one of its films to Academy Awards glory, this year with silent movie “The Artist,” after last year’s victory for “The King’s Speech.”

The Weinstein Company was also behind “The Iron Lady” ― which won best actress Oscar for Streep as former British premier Margaret Thatcher ― as well as “My Week with Marilyn” about screen idol Marilyn Monroe.

The company also distributed “Undefeated,” a documentary about an underdog football team who look to reverse their fortunes with with a new coach, which won best documentary feature Sunday.

“Harvey Weinstein did incredible work. The way he thinks about a film, about the audience, about the way to show it in its best light, with the right timing, he’s very strong,” said “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius.

“I think the U.S. promotional budget for the film is more than it cost to make it,” which was about 12 million dollars, according to the IMDb movie industry website, he said.

Weinstein, now 59, is indeed a legend in Tinseltown. Before the Weinstein Company, with his older brother Bob he co-founded Miramax Films ― named after his mother Miriam and father Max ― in 1979.

Miramax was sold to Disney in 1993 and the Weinstein brothers left the company in 2005 to start their own movie studio. Miramax hits include 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love,” for which Weinstein shared a Best Picture Oscar.

But over his three-decade career he has produced no fewer than 243 projects, including Cannes-winning “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Pret a Porter” in 1994, “The English Patient” (1996), and “Gangs of New York” in 2002.

The burly movie mogul ― he weighs over 300 pounds ― was also executive producer on the global blockbuster “Lord of the Rings” cycle of films starting in 2001, as well as “The Reader” (2008) and “Inglorious Basterds” (2009).

He is famous for his ability to orchestrate Oscars campaigns.

Last year was a case in point: British royal drama “The King’s Speech”opened in only a limited number of theaters initially, in a strategy designed to use word of mouth and marketing to gradually gain momentum behind the film.

While Facebook movie “The Social Network,” its main rival, had a blockbuster release, the understated British film’s profile only reached its peak late in the year, ensuring it reached its peak for the February Oscars show.

“The Artist” performed a similar trick: after triumphing at the Cannes Film Festival last May, Weinstein snapped up the U.S. distribution rights, and turned an art-house movie into a mainstream hit feted by critics and the public alike.