In light of current events, I feel compelled to share this story about Alison Brantley, the former director of acquisitions of Miramax.
Working day to day with the Weinsteins in New York had gotten to Brantley, as it had to the others, and she had begged Harvey to let her operate out of the London office, an elegant townhouse on Redburn Street in Chelsea, between the river and Kings Road. One of her jobs was to babysit Day-Lewis, who became fond of her. His attitude was, She’s the normal person in this crazy company. Harvey would never have gotten through Granada’s doors had she not opened them, and he had somehow neglected to reward her with a bonus. She had never been to the Oscars and figured he owed her. After some prodding, he finally agreed to fly her to L.A. and pay for her hotel room, but he said, “Alie, I just can’t get you a ticket.” She replied, “Harvey, don’t worry. I’ll get one myself.” No sooner said than Day-Lewis gave her his extra ticket. When she arrived in L.A. the day before the ceremony, she got a call from Miramax publicist Christina Kounelias, who told her, “Uh, Harvey wants to talk to you.” Brantley, who had been astonished to see that the ticket was for the front row, next to Day-Lewis, couldn’t help recalling that Harvey had refused to let her sit next to Soderbergh at the closing ceremony in Cannes and understood right away he wanted to sit with the nominee. She replied, “I will be damned if he’s gonna get this ticket.” But she had indiscreetly disclosed Harvey’s intention to My Left Foot producer Noel Pearson, which Harvey discovered. It made him look bad, and he was furious. There was a meeting of Miramax staffers at the Beverly Hills Hotel at noon the next day. Harvey called her, bellowed, “You get yourself over here right now, down to this meeting.” She thought, Oh, shit, I’m in for it. I am not walking into that meeting with this ticket in my bag. I’m going to go to my hotel and lock it up. She imagined him pawing through her purse going, “Where is that ticket?”
Twenty minutes later Brantley walked into the Miramax suite. To her chagrin she realized that everybody of any importance at the company was there. She had expected a one on one, never imagining that they would drag her in front of the whole place. She thought, He’s just trying to spook me. Bob came over to her, put his arm around her, and said, “That was really dumb what you said to Noel. You must have either been stupid or disloyal. Which one was it?” She thought, This is like the Mafia. But not wanting to get herself into any more trouble, she said, in a small voice, “Oh, I guess I was really stupid.” Just then, the phone rang. It was Tom Pollock, head of Universal. Harvey took the call, put on his I’m-talking-to-somebody-important voice, and after he hung up, he looked at her and said, “People at Universal would get fired for less than this.” Bob put his arm around her again and walked her to the door. He was terrifying when he was being sweet. She thought, This is utterly creepy, and fully expected to hear him say, “Alie, you’re finished.” He didn’t, but she recalls, “In my heart I knew my days were numbered. You don’t stand up to Harvey.” None of the people in the room said a word in her defense. “They sat there watching like in a circus,” she adds. “Looking back on it, I wish I had said, ‘Fuck you!’ and walked out. The thing about working for them for me was, we weren’t raised to be like that. We were southern.” She never did give him the ticket. “I went, and I sat next to Daniel, and it was great.”
In 1990, Daniel Day-Lewis was nominated for Best Actor award for the first time. He could have brought anyone with him to the Oscars. His mother, his sister, his family, Isabelle Adjani, or any of those beautiful women he was linked with. Instead, he brought an employee of Miramax, who has been constantly bullied by her employer, the Weinstein brothers. DDL didn’t give her a lesser seat, but a front row ticket seating next to him, the very seat her boss was desperate to have. That’s DDL sending a “fuck you” message to Harvey.
I don’t know if he knew or how much he knew but you see, DDL didn’t make empty statements. He acted. And his action was subtle and as harmless as possible and the one that made the victim feels like the winner. What made this story more sweet, DDL did win (as the youngest actor ever won Best Actor at the time) and she got to celebrate the win next to him.