When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man
Here is the story of Jerry Weintraub: the self-made, Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised impresario, Hollywood producer, legendary deal maker, and friend of politicians and stars. No matter where nature has placed him--the club rooms of Brooklyn, the Mafia dives of New York's Lower East Side, the wilds of Alaska, or the hills of Hollywood--he has found a way to put on a show and sell tickets at the door. "All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage," he writes. "I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: 'Jerry Weintraub Presents.'"
In WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD, we follow Weintraub from his first great success at age twenty-six with Elvis Presley, whom he took on the road; to the immortal days with Sinatra and Rat Pack glory; to his crowning hits as a movie producer, starting with Robert Altman and Nashville, continuing with Oh, God!, The Karate Kid movies, and Diner, among others, and summiting with Steven Soderbergh and Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.
Along the way, we'll watch as Jerry moves from the poker tables of Palm Springs, to the power rooms of Hollywood, to the halls of the White House, to Red Square in Moscow-all the while counseling potentates, poets, and kings, with clients and confidants like George Clooney, Bruce Willis, George H. W. Bush, Armand Hammer, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, John Denver, Bobby Fischer . . .well, the list goes on.
And of course, the story is not yet over . . . As Weintraub says, "When I stop talking, you'll know I'm dead."
decisions and did exactly what he wanted to do. Business and promotion—that was what the Colonel cared about. As for the movies, which some people didn’t like, Colonel Parker had just two rules. One: It had to have ten songs, because ten songs made a record. Two: Elvis got paid one million dollars. This neat sum, one million, the Colonel loved it. It rolled off his tongue. Years later, I was at a meeting at the Beverly Wilshire with Colonel Parker and Hal Wallis, a Paramount producer who worked
idea that did not come off. The phone rings in the middle of the night. It’s Elvis. He is angry and paranoid, pacing the halls of Graceland. “Is that Jerry?” he asks. “Yeah, Elvis. It’s me. What’s up?” “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he says. “I just don’t know.” “What’s wrong, Elvis?” “The Colonel,” he says. “I don’t need him. I’m done with the Colonel.” “Come on, Elvis.” “Listen, Jerry, you should be my manager.” This is not unusual, these freaked-out, middle-of-the-night calls
Toronto, and Detroit. He also brought Sonja Henie to America and produced her ice shows, which led to the Ice Capades. He was a giant. “I don’t understand Arthur Wirtz,” I told a Chicago friend. “Why doesn’t he put other shows in the Stadium?” “He doesn’t want other shows,” my friend told me. “He has the Ice Capades, he has the circus, hockey, and basketball. He doesn’t know from anything else.” I called Wirtz’s office and left a message. No return. I called again. Nothing. It was like
a road in the country, a cart filled with travelers, each itching to tell his or her tale. The crowd is silent, rapt, but I’m not hearing it, not seeing it. I’m thinking about Frank Loesser: “Go to London, get the rights, we’ll produce it together. We’ll be partners.” I’m with these guys, have them to myself… but the show will end, the party will start, the drinks and congratulations and Broadway hotshots, and I will miss my chance. I have to act now! I leaned over and whispered to
most colorful biographies of the last century. His father, Julius, a Russian immigrant, headed the Communist Party in New York, which was unusual in that the family was quite prosperous. They owned a pharmaceutical company in the Bronx, but there was a scandal. I’m not sure of the details, but it had something to do with an illegal abortion and the death of a young woman. The family was horrified. Julius was sent to Sing Sing. If you’re the son of a convict, the middle of three boys, it can have