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7 ways Leo Tolstoy is like Harvey Weinstein

October 08, 2013|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Harvey Weinstein will help produce a new version of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace."
Harvey Weinstein will help produce a new version of Leo Tolstoy's… (Library of Congress; Bryan…)

Harvey Weinstein has joined the BBC to help produce Leo Tolstoy's classic "War and Peace" as a miniseries. The Hollywood Reporter writes, "The drama series based on Tolstoy's epic will consist of six hourlong episodes and eight 44-minute episodes for international markets and is scheduled to air on BBC One in 2015."

Weinstein, of course, has a long list of literary adaptations in his credits as producer and executive producer: "Jane Eyre," "Emma," and "The English Patient" in 1996, "Mansfield Park" and "The Cider House Rules" in 1999, "Cold Mountain" in 2003 and "The Lord of the Rings" series are just a few.

But for all his bookishness, Weinstein has not yet adapted a novel by Tolstoy. Is it an odd match? Here are a few facts to help you decide.

1. Weinstein, now 61, became a father for the fifth time this year. When Tolstoy was 60, his wife gave birth to their last child -- their 13th.

2. Tolstoy received a windfall: an inheritance of 4,000 acres and 350 serfs. And the film company Weinstein and his brother Bob founded, Miramax, was sold to Disney in 1993 for $60 million.

3. Tolstoy was 41 when "War and Peace" was published. Weinstein was 42 when "Pulp Fiction," one of his signature productions, was released.

4. In 2005, Weinstein and his brother left Disney and Miramax behind over creative differences. When Tolstoy's  "Anna Karenina" was first published -- as a serial in the Russian Herald -- the periodical was so displeased with the ending that it refused to publish the final chapter.

5. When Tolstoy was 50 years old, "Anna Karenina" was published as a book, in complete form with the ending as he'd written it. The year Weinstein turned 50, he produced or executive produced 16 films and television programs, including the Oscar-winning "Chicago" and "Gangs of New York" (and, well, "Spy Kids 2").

6. Weinstein had to make a new start with the Weinstein Co., which initially stumbled. Tolstoy, too, had some tough times: To pay off his gambling debts, he sold his property, his serfs, the family home and even pawned his watch.

7. They are similar in height: Tolstoy was 5 feet 11 and Weinstein is 6 feet tall.


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