Friday, May 24, 2024

George and Barbara Bush Steal Hollywood Mogul’s Movie


Lately, George and Barbara Bush are everywhere. But they’re also in Doug McGrath‘s wonderful HBO documentary about Hollywood mogul, mover and shaker Jerry Weintraub. An A list crowd came to the Time Warner Center screening room last night to watch the film, called “His Way,” based on Weintraub’s memoir. And just like the Bushes are so friendly with Bill Clinton, they also have a connection to Weintraub through his wife, singer Jane Morgan.

Like the witnesses in “Reds,” the Bushes give a hilarious on camera testimonial to Weintraub that has to be seen the film airs this coming week. (Barbara Bush has impeccable coming timing.) They rattle off a list of celebrities to whom the gregarious Weintraub has introduced them over the years. Barbara pauses, then remembers, suddenly: “John Travolta!” Her eyes light up.

There’s a long history between the Bushes and the Weintraubs not mentioned in the film, but it’s in Weinraub’s book. McGrath recalled the story for me last night. Apparently, Weintraub was denied admission into the Bushes’ country club in Kennebunkport because he was Jewish. Bush was so upset he arranged for Weintraub to play in a foursome with him (this was many years ago). McGrath said, “Now Jerry is a member.”

“His Way” is the second documentary produced by Graydon Carter recently for HBO, following Martin Scorsese’s “Public Speaking,” about Fran Lebowitz. Carter, editor in cheif of Vanity Fair, presided over the dinner following the screening at The Porter House steak restaurant in the Time Warner Center. Who wasn’t there? Nobody. Candice Bergen, Barry and Diana Levinson, Joan Juliet Buck, Liz Smith (looking snazzy in a red leather jacket), HBO doc chief Sheila Nevins, Hearst magazines chief  Ellen Levine, People mag editor Larry Hackett, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“His Way” is not to be missed, especially for Matt Damon’s and George Clooney’s imitations of Weintraub, rare footage of Frank Sinatra and Elvis performing together, early clips of John Denver, and Julia Roberts squirming on camera when asked to comment about Weintraub’s unusual domestic arrangements.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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