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Uber-producer Weinstein vows not to back excessively violent movies

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 10:59 PM EST, Fri January 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Harvey Weinstein says he won't back "crazy action (movies) to blow up ... and exploit people"
  • He says it's hypocritical to push for gun control while producing some violent films
  • "Pulp Fiction," "Gangs of New York," "Django Unchained" were all produced by Weinstein
  • Weinstein speaks days after announcing that he's behind a movie critical of the NRA

(CNN) -- "Pulp Fiction." "Django Unchained." "Gangs of New York." "Kill Bill." "Inglourious Basterds."

All are celebrated, popular films containing what some saw as excessive, graphic violence that glorified as much as humanized the bloodshed. And all have uber-producer Harvey Weinstein to thank for bringing them to the big screen.

No more.

Weinstein told CNN's Piers Morgan on Friday night that he can't in good good conscience advocate against on-screen violence while promoting movies that some claim revel in it. He promised to steer clear of such projects in the future.

"I can't do it," Weinstein said. "I can't make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids, and then just go out and be a hypocrite."

The co-founder -- with his brother Bob -- of Miramax Films and now the Weinstein Co. spoke days after announcing plans for a movie that will be critical of the National Rifle Association.

He stressed Friday that "the movie will be entertaining," and not a documentary, characterizing it in the same vein as the classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." In this case, the Mr. Smith role -- of a U.S. senator who goes toe-to-toe with the NRA -- will be played by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep.

"I know the power of what a movie can do," Weinstein said of his hopes for the project, "because a movie can galvanize a country."

There's been a sharp backlash to this initiative from conservative news outlets to rock star/gun rights advocate Ted Nugent, who has speculated that the movie will backfire and end up bolstering the NRA.

But Weinstein -- a well-known Democratic party donor -- says he isn't backing down. He characterized the resistance to gun control in the United States as a byproduct of the big business of the gun industry.

The producer said he felt compelled to do more, and change his tack, after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut -- some 20 minutes from where he and his children live -- left 20 young students and 6 others dead.

Weinstein recalled calls to action to address gun violence in the wake of such mass shootings, only to have that momentum seemingly fade after a few days. He says he'd been among those who spoke out for such measures, even as some of his movies had their share of blood and gore.

That won't happen any longer, Weinstein said. While he has no problems with real-to-life films like "Lone Survivor," the current hit chronicling a team of Navy SEALs in Afghanistan, the producer vowed, "I'm not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people."

"I've done a good job of feeling sympathetic for it over the years, but I've done also a good job of ignoring it and saying that's somebody else's fight," Weinstein said.

He added, "But It's in my backyard now. And as much as I want to ignore it, as much as I want to go on with my regular life, I can't shake it this time."

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