In a sweeping interview with The New York Times, IAC chairman Barry Diller says The Shape of Water is “beautiful but silly,” that he hopes for “some form of reconciliation” between men and women in the post-MeToo era, and that Donald Trump “was a man of bad character from the moment he entered adulthood, if not before. Pure, bad character.”
Interviewed by The Times‘ Maureen Dowd in an article that went online today and is in print tomorrow, Diller, described as “all charm, with a healthy dose of self-deprecation,” talks of Hollywood old and new, politics, business and friendship.
The entire article is certainly worth a read, but here are some selected highlights:
On Trump: “I would so love it if he were being blackmailed by Putin. That would make me very happy. This was a man of bad character from the moment he entered adulthood, if not before. Pure, bad character. Ugh, Trump.”
On Harvey Weinstein (Diller, writes Dowd, recalls that once in Cannes, when he was the chief executive of Universal, Stacey Snider, the head of the movie division, told him that Weinstein had treated her terribly and made her cry): “So the next day I saw Harvey on the terrace at Hotel du Cap and I said, ‘Harvey, don’t ever treat an executive at my company that way. Don’t you ever talk to anyone in that manner.’
“And Harvey, about six feet away, said, ‘I’m going to throw you off the terrace.’ And this gorilla, because he looks like a gorilla, starts walking towards me, right? And truly, I was scared. I thought, how, without cutting and running like a chicken, do I stop him? And somehow a bear came into my mind.” He says he pulled himself up into a menacing stance, as you’re supposed to do if you have to confront a bear.
“And it so surprised him that he stopped and I got out with a small amount of honor.”
On Bill Gates: “When I met Bill Gates, I would say he had the emotional quotient of a snail. And now you can see him cry.”
On Hillary Clinton: “She’s well with herself again and she has a role to play.”
On Ivanka Trump: “I mean, we were friendly. I would sit next to her every once in a while at a dinner. And I, as everyone did, was like, ‘Oh, my God, how could this evil character have spawned such a polite, gracious person?’ I don’t think we feel that way now.”
On owning a studio today: “It would be like saying, do I want to own a horse-and-buggy company? The idea of a movie is losing its meaning.”
On this year’s Oscar nominees: “Essentially, no one went to see them.”
On Old Hollywood: “They were real characters — overblown, exuberant, nasty, but each of them in their own way were genuinely interesting people. The only thing that I’ve learned, that I think I’ve had some instinct for, is instinct. And these people operated completely out of instinct. As against today, when people operate out of research and marketing.”
On Netflix: “It’s something that’s never happened in media before, when Netflix got a lot of subscribers early on and made the brilliant decision to pour it into original production, like spending more than $100 million dollars to make ‘House of Cards,’ instead of buying old stuff. It blows my mind. It’s like a giant vacuum cleaner came and pushed all the other vacuum cleaners aside. And they cannot be outbid. No one can compete with them.”
MeToo’s impact on movies: “Red Sparrow has some of the most violent and extreme sexual messiness that you could imagine. O.K., it was made a year and a half ago. Would it be made today in the same way? Probably so. So I don’t think it affects content.”
MeToo’s impact at the office: “We recently had a formal complaint made by a woman who said that she was at a convention with her colleagues and she was asked to have a drink with her boss. Period. That was the complaint. And we said, ‘Here’s the thing. Anybody can ask you anything, other than let’s presume something illegal, and you have the right to say “Yes” or “No.” If it’s “Yes,” go in good health and if it’s “No,” then it’s full stop.’ But the end result of that is a guy, let’s presume he is heterosexual, and his boss, heterosexual, and guy asks guy for a drink and they go have a drink and they talk about career opportunities. And the boss says, ‘Oh, this is a smart guy. I’m promoting him.’ A woman now cannot be in that position. So all these things are a-changin’.
“God knows, I’m hardly a sociologist. But I hope in the future for some form of reconciliation. Because I think all men are guilty. I’m not talking about rape and pillage. I’m not talking about Harveyesque. I’m talking about all of the spectrum. From an aggressive flirt. Or even just a flirty-flirt that has one sour note in it. Or what I think every man was guilty of, some form of omission in attitude, in his views. Are we really going to have only capital punishment? Because right now, that’s what we have. You get accused, you’re obliterated. Charlie Rose ceases to exist.”