Release Date: September 1, 2000
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, who got his start in the entertainment industry 30 years ago by promoting rock concerts at the University at the Buffalo, will receive an honorary SUNY Doctorate of Humane Letters from UB on Sept. 26.
The degree will be conferred upon Weinstein by UB President William R. Greiner on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York at a noon luncheon in his honor to be held in the University Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, on UB's North (Amherst) Campus.
The luncheon will be preceded by a lecture by Weinstein at 11 a.m. in the Center for the Arts Screening Room and followed by a 3 p.m. screening of "The Yards," a film produced and distributed by Miramax Films, the nationally renowned champion of independent and alternative cinema co-founded by Weinstein. Screening of the film, directed by James Gray and starring Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, Faye Dunaway, Ellen Burstyn and James Caan, is open to the public.
In nominating him for this honor, Greiner spoke to Weinstein's "extraordinary boldness, drive and instinctive eye for cutting-edge creative excellence...(that) continues to broaden and diversify the field of American film by providing a niche for provocative and independent films...(and) enlarging the American audience for foreign cinema."
He noted, "Weinstein's influence has led to the development of alternative production divisions in large studios and to an expanded definition of the popular film.
"He reshapes the face of the American film industry with each new offering from Miramax," Greiner said, "and has shown the world that movies have the power to transform lives in unexpected ways long after their audiences depart from the theater."
Greiner added: "UB will honor Harvey Weinstein not only in recognition of the degree he pursued here 30 years ago, but as a tribute to his extraordinary efforts to broaden the horizons of film audiences everywhere."
For 20 years, Weinstein has been at the center of a revolution that brought the American film industry into the renewed state of innovation and diversity it enjoys today.
Born in Queens, he attended UB as an English major from 1969-73 and was very active with the school's independent University Union Activities Board, which funded a broad variety of student activities, including rock concerts.
During that time, he and fellow UB student Horace "Corky" Burger began to produce shows on their own. The first was a hugely successful 1972 Stephen Stills concert that led to the founding of Harvey and Corky Productions, which quickly became a fixture on the Buffalo music scene.
They recruited Weinstein's brother Bob, then a student SUNY College at Fredonia, as a third partner and the company began to develop into the prototype for Miramax, named after the brothers' parents, Miriam and Max Weinstein. Miramax opened its offices in 1979 in Buffalo's old Memorial Auditorium.
The company has since undergone a radical transformation in size and power, but the brothers' commitment to redefining cinematic boundaries has remained unchanged. In addition to their distribution of quirky and often provocative independent and foreign films, the Weinsteins went on to produce the kind of unconventional and artistically daring work often avoided by established production companies.
To this day, they both are involved with the production, editing and marketing of individual Miramax films and retain sole authority over the selection of the films they distribute.
The Miramax roster has included many notable productions, including. "The Cider House Rules," "Il Postino," "My Left Foot," "Like Water for Chocolate," "Cinema Paradiso," "The Crying Game," "Trainspotting," "Pulp Fiction," "The Thin Blue Line," "The Piano," "The English Patient," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Cry the Beloved Country."
Miramax has received 148 Academy Award nominations and 42 wins during the past 12 years. The company has been honored with a Best Picture nomination for the past 10 consecutive years.
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