Harvey Weinstein, like so many others who struggle so hard each year to create awards season campaigns for their prestige films, is mourning the death of Nadia Bronson, who passed away at age 67 from cancer. She worked with him on a host of films from Django Unchained to Silver Linings Playbook, to Shakespeare In Love and Inglourious Basterds. Harvey has penned the following remembrance to Bronson.
That is the word that comes to mind in describing Nadia Bronson. I have spent the better part of 20 years knowing her, and knowing her well. She had two favorite clients: one was to be expected, George Clooney — charming and erudite, in life and in movies, caring and concerned. When she wasn’t well I would always get his email to make sure she was being looked after. She loved him, he loved her back.
Her second client was not the usual suspect, it was me, and probably for all the wrong reasons. Mostly I think she enjoyed kicking my ass in front of my staff just to prove she could do it. And even though she might not have been model size she had a right and a left, combined with a jab, both verbally and physically, that could keep the most tempestuous in their place. When Silver Linings Playbook lost Best Comedy/Musical to Les Miserables, she proceeded to detonate the time bomb, me, in front of a room full of people. Nothing in The Hurt Locker comes close.
She was a master strategist and an out-of-box thinker. I think she and Judy Solomon had more cigarette breaks than any two humans I know. At their respective ages, their friendship reminded me of 2 giggling school girls, who loved each other and had good words about the good guys and caustic ones about the pretentious and phonies. Nadia Bronson was Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich rolled into one — stylish and above the fray — but when her clients needed her for infighting, no one was better at landing a body punch.
I’ve said this again and again, you don’t win awards by brow beating but by making sure people say they’ve seen what you have. It is particularly difficult for the small movies because let’s face it, we see all the big popcorn movies, the studio movies. Small movies are the ones where it takes the skill set and patience that Nadia had, and the ability to make sure and to be tenacious that they heard your Golden Globe song and that they saw your foreign language movie. They couldn’t lie to Nadia about watching the DVD, because Nadia would probably have cameras watching them watch the DVD! Lord knows if they took the bathroom break, I’d hate to hear the commentary of someone not watching a Nadia Bronson movie. Those people on the bathroom break are probably all damned to hell right now.
So Dani Weinstein, whom Nadia liked and Dani loved right back, told me she was in hospice. George Clooney emailed me three seconds later and I said to George I would get her my doctors yesterday. Dani tried to call her on our behalf, but she wasn’t taking calls because she was being sedated. As anybody who’s proactive, we remain wracked with guilt about whether we could have changed things or not.
I wanted to celebrate her first, and remember her kicking my ass in a hallway, telling me I was wrong numerous times. And if I blow my reputation by saying she had that way with me, so be my reputation. And sometimes when I pushed, she said it’s the absolute opposite, so she taught me not to push, but to be smart and to make sure that people saw the films for the right reasons and also to withdraw when the mission was doomed from the go. Aborting a mission is the skill set of a general and Nadia was a general.
Like spring training that leads to an October World Series play, Nadia was my fall season for over 20 years. She never missed with our nominations and we got more wins than one could hope for. Her record was amazing and the way she interacted with people was unique. No movie star impressed her (except for George), no head of a studio impressed her, and even though she liked me, trust me, I did not impress her. We were all equal and she kept people in their place with sarcasm and insight.
I lost one of the women who took care of my kids for 18 years recently. She was 61. For my children, it was the first time they’d dealt with pain like that. For me, I can’t even come to terms with this. I want to take back all my stupid remarks and I want another season to appreciate her every day.
So this season is dedicated to her. I’m going to do things her way. Then again, I always did things her way because she made me do things her way. I’m going to remember her and George will and everyone who reads this article, and all of us who worked with her should celebrate her. I’m going to ask George to throw the party with me because Nadia would be the last person in the world who would want sadness. She was hardly Irish but she’d want the best wake of all time — rowdy, sarcastic people taking cigarette breaks and being as cynically hilarious as humanly possible. All movies will be made fun of, all studio heads will be game, and everybody who asked her for a favor better come. As Nadia would say, attendance is mandatory, so you better bet I’m taking names and so is George.
From me, for all of my protestation to the different, I lost a family member today and I don’t say that lightly. I want to hug Judy Solomon for no other reason than she reminds me of her and I want to hear all the stories again and again and again. Nadia taught me, and others, so much about marketing, innovation, and most of all, about honesty in a business that sometimes runs on the other. Missed is not the word, indelible is how I remember her, and the laughter and those incredible wisecracks with big targets, who remind me, as Nadia said to me over and over and over again, “For God’s sake, they’re only movies, they’re not that important. Life is important.”