Hollywood icon Jerry Weintraub talks Elvis, Sinatra, Clooney and more

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: He toured with Elvis Presley when the singer was in his prime. He collaborated with Frank Sinatra when the legend came out of retirement. As a movie producer, he moved three different “Ocean’s” movies, and shook hands with “God.”

But nowadays, all mega-producer Jerry Weintraub, 73, needs is a restroom. So when he sat down with a group of journalists to help promote the HBO documentary “My Way,” based on his autobiography, he insisted on starting with his favorite pee story.

“About six weeks ago, I had to go … to a premiere of a movie with a friend of mine, Bruce Willis. He had a movie called ‘Red’ with Helen Mirren. It was a great movie, anyway. I never go to premiers. And he candidly said to me, “I need you to sit next to me. This premiere is very important.”

I said, “Okay, okay.” And I went home, and I’m a big vodka drinker. I love my vodka. And I don’t have to drink socially. I could drink all by myself at night. Just a bottle is fine. I don’t need – I don’t need any help. So, I get home and I have to go to this thing and be there at 7:10 to go on the red carpet and do all that nonsense. And I get a vodka. And I have one vodka, two vodkas, three vodkas, four vodkas. I get in the car with a vodka. And I put it in the middle of the – between the two seats. My driver is driving me. And I – and I – the first thing I have to do is drop my cellphone into the vodka. That’s not a good thing to do. They don’t work if they get wet.

Now, we’re driving down Sunset and I’m – and this is where the pee story comes in. And I got to pee. And if you’re 73 and you’ve got to pee, you got to pee. There is not like a big conversation about it.

But since that – and I was late for the red carpet. Then, my driver said, ‘Mr. Weintraub, we got to go. We got to go. We got to be on the red carpet. I promised that I’ll have you there.’

I said, ‘Okay, okay. I got to – I just go in this Mobile station.’ So, he pulled in this Mobile station and I go at the station and the guy – I asked the guy who had a – he was previously from the Middle East and he had to tag on his shirt and I couldn’t read his name. And I said to him, ‘May I use the men’s room?’

And he said to me, ‘Are you buying gas?’

And I said, ‘No, I just wanted to use the men’s room.’

I come out and I said, ‘Well, what’s your name?’

He said, ‘My name is (Akmed).’

I said, ‘Well, (Akmed), I really appreciate letting me use the men’s room. I want to give you something, wait one minute.’ I ran out to the car, I asked (Suzie) for a book. She gives me a book. I take it in, I hand him the book, and I sign it. He’s, “Oh my god, you’re him, you’re him. I read about you, oh, with Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley and all the Ocean’s movies. You’re fantastic. You’re a big star. My god, my god.”

And so (Akmed) is so excited.

I said, “Great, I’m happy, (Akmed).” He said, “Listen to me, I want to give you a present.” I said, “What?”

He said “Anytime you’re in this neighborhood and you have to pee, come right in, use the bathroom, you don’t have to buy gas.”

That’s how you know you wield power in Hollywood – you have access to your own bathroom, any time you want.

But Weintraub’s resume already is chock full of successes. He has worked with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. He dreams of collaborating with equally big stars.

“There are two stars that I haven’t tried to get them,” Weintraub told us. “But then, I would love to work with. And that’s DiCaprio and Johnny Depp. I haven’t worked with either one of them. And I love them both. I think they are both brilliant.”

When asked who he’d like to see play him in a feature-film adaptation of the “My Way” documentary, Weintraub deadpanned, “Will Smith.”

And he would know. He collaborated with the Smith family on the recent “Karate Kid” remake. When we asked Weintraub his thoughts on Hollywood’s current trend of remaking old properties, he explained, “Not everything should be remade. A lot of things shouldn’t be touched. I remade ‘Ocean’s’ because the original ‘Ocean’s’ I didn’t think was a great film and I was there for it, and I didn’t think it was great. I know I could do a better job.”
We pressed him for details on the rumored “Oh, God!” remake, as Weintraub produced the original with George Burns and John Denver.

“We’re playing around with it,” Weintraub said. “We’re trying to find the right God. I think – I think it’s going to be a woman.”

“My Way,” which recounts Weintraub’s rise to Hollywood elite status, will be on HBO this evening, and should run through the month.

Photo courtesy of Norman Jean Roy/HBO

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