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Hollywood Legend Jerry Weintraub on Pranking George Clooney & Doing It 'His Way'

by Maggie Furlong, posted Mar 31st 2011 12:00PM
Jerry Weintraub, 'His Way'Jerry Weintraub's resume reads like a play-by-play of major moments in pop culture history. I had the pleasure of walking down memory lane with the fascinating Mr. Weintruab -- "Jerry, Jerry, call me Jerry!" -- to hear more about his many careers and reinventions.

Before becoming a well-known Hollywood producer of films like 'Diner,' 'Karate Kid' and 'Oh, God!', Bronx native Weintraub got his start in music management for original Rat Packer Joey Bishop, the Four Seasons, and the songstress who eventually became his wife, Jane Morgan.

He then moved on to promote huge acts like Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, The Carpenters, John Denver and The King, Elvis Presley, which made him a millionaire at a very young age.

"The craziest was Led Zeppelin," says Weintraub. "Because they were crazy. That was the time though -- it was the '70s. Sex, drugs and rock n' roll, you know?" When I commented that it sounded like a hard life to keep up with, Weintraub barked, "Not really," followed by his signature full, throaty laugh.

These were the moments in Weintraub's life that were somewhat unknown -- until he wrote his memoir, that is. For a man who could talk his way into or out of anything, 'When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead' is the perfect title for his New York Times bestseller filled with stories, both laugh-out-loud funny and unbelievable.

HBO has now turned these stories into a documentary, 'His Way' (premiering Monday, April 4, 9PM ET), which features interviews with Weintraub, his wife, his long-time live-in love and some famous friends, including George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.

Weintraub with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt

The obvious connection of those Hollywood heavyweights is Weintraub's 'Ocean's Eleven' franchise, and just like in that hit trilogy of heist movies, there's glamour, some mystery and lots of laughs when Weintraub is around. "My life is 'Ocean's Eleven' -- you're right. I'm gonna use that now!"

Jane Morgan, Jerry Weintraub's wifeDid you catch that part about his wife Jane Morgan and his long-time line-in love Susie Ekins? That's where the air of mystery comes in. He and Morgan, the mother of his four children, never divorced, but he's lived with Ekins full-time for almost 20 years now. To Weintraub, their unusual living situation seems completely natural.

Weintraub & girlfriend Susie Ekins"It's one big happy family. We don't all sleep in the same bed or anything [Laughs], but it's one big happy family." The documentary gives even more insight into their arrangement from both ladies in his life and his grown kids.

But by far the most interesting highlights of Weintraub's career come from his time in Hollywood. After producing hit movies throughout the '70s and early '80s, Weintraub's career hit a bumpy path until he hit it big yet again with 'Ocean's Eleven.' Having worked with both Joey Bishop and Sinatra, he had grand plans for the Rat Pack remake: to make it bigger and better than the original.

Weintraub was a fixture on the set of that first film, which shot in Las Vegas, becoming very close with its star-studded cast. In fact, all the guys have honed their impressions of Weintraub, and they all show them off with different stories in 'His Way.'

"I don't think they're very good," Weintraub says. "I don't think I really sound like that, but maybe I do. The one I was surprised with was [Don] Cheadle's impression of me. He's good. But yeah, they all do me on the talk shows and I get a kick out of it."

Another thing he gets a kick out of? Their penchant for pulling pranks. Several shenanigans (which almost always involve Clooney) were recounted in great detail in the doc, but here's one you won't hear:

"One day George borrowed this shirt of mine. It was a gold silk shirt and he hated it -- he thought it was too loud. So he borrows it and then draws a penis on it and gets all these big stars to sign it. Probably 25 big stars signed all around the penis. Then he sends it back to me. I opened it, saw the penis and hopped in my golf cart to go to his office and I just destroyed it. I'm smashing lamps with a golf club and George is in the corner going 'You're gonna kill me!' And I was just yelling, 'That's the idea!' People were all around watching, and finally I started laughing. It was all a joke [Laughs], but his office was wrecked."

Yes, an autograph-scrawled penis shirt is something I'd pay to see -- and maybe one day you can too. "That'll go in my museum. I'm figuring that out now, where to put it, but I will have a museum."

Jerry Weintraub, 'His Way'For now, Weintraub is happy telling his stories to promote his book and the HBO doc but, of course, he's already thinking about what's next: another book. "I'm not sure what it's about. But you know, you've given me an idea -- maybe I'll start with the promotion stuff for this book and movie, like talking to you. What it takes to self-promote when it's a project you're proud of."

So is there anything he regrets in this unbelievable life he's led? "My least proudest accomplishment was having this goal to be a big successful businessman from a very young age, and missing out on my kids' childhoods because of that. I worked all the time, and I missed a lot of good stuff."

And what about his proudest? "My proudest accomplishment is that I'm still alive after 74 years in this business. I've lived a crazy life, but I've made it this far."

Get even more details of Jerry Weintraub's crazy life in 'His Way,'
Mon., April 4, 9PM ET on HBO.

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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Corry Broeken


April 02 2011 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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