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Jerry Weintraub: The Karate Kid + Ocean’s Eleven Producer

The Karate Kid Ralph Macchio Jerry Weintraub
Jerry Weintraub produced The Karate Kid 1984 with Ralph Macchio.

Jerry Weintraub: The Karate Kid & Ocean’s Eleven producer

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Former talent agent turned film and television producer Jerry Weintraub, who died at age 77 on July 6 in Santa Barbara, California, was best known for the 1984 The Karate Kid and its various sequels, spin-offs, and reboots; and for the all-star Ocean’s movies of the early 21st century.

As talent agent and concert tour organizer, Weintraub represented disparate names such as John Denver, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Neil Diamond.

Jerry Weintraub movies

According to the IMDb, Jerry Weintraub received his first big-screen credit – as executive producer – on Robert Altman’s 1975 Best Picture Oscar nominee Nashville, which he reportedly helped to get off the ground.

His first “producer” credit was on James Bridges’ little-seen 1977 drama September 30, 1955, starring Richard Thomas as a young man unable to cope with James Dean’s unexpected death.

Among the notable movies produced by Weintraub were:

  • The major domestic box office hit Oh, God! (1977).
    Director: Carl Reiner.
    Cast: Old-timer George Burns (Oscar winner for The Sunshine Boys, 1975). Weintraub client John Denver. Teri Garr.
  • Cruising (1980), a controversial drama about a gay serial killer on the loose.
    Director: William Friedkin.
    Cast: Al Pacino. Paul Sorvino. Karen Allen.
  • All Night Long (1981), a rare box office dud featuring Barbra Streisand.
    Director: Jean-Claude Tramont.
    Cast: Gene Hackman. Barbra Streisand (second billed for the first time).
  • Diner (1982), which was enthusiastically received by some U.S. critics at the time.
    Director: Barry Levinson.
    Cast: Steve Guttenberg. Daniel Stern. Mickey Rourke. Kevin Bacon.
  • The sleeper hit The Karate Kid (1984), which earned Pat Morita a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
    Director: John G. Avildsen.
    Cast: Ralph Macchio. Pat Morita (as Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita). Elisabeth Shue.
  • The Avengers (1998), based on the television series, not the Marvel comics.
    Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik.
    Cast: Ralph Fiennes. Uma Thurman. Sean Connery.
  • Ocean’s Eleven (2001), an immensely successful all-star remake of Lewis Milestone’s 1960 comedy Ocean’s 11, featuring Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and others.
    Director: Steven Soderbergh.
    Cast: George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts. Matt Damon. Andy Garcia. Casey Affleck. Scott Caan. Elliott Gould. And Ocean’s 11 featured players Angie Dickinson and Henry Silva.
  • Ocean’s Twelve (2004), an “original” caper, as the 1960 movie apparently wasn’t successful enough to warrant sequels.
    Director: Steven Soderbergh.
    Cast: George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts. Matt Damon. Catherine Zeta-Jones. Andy Garcia. Don Cheadle. Casey Affleck. Scott Caan. Elliott Gould.
  • Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), a sizable worldwide hit chiefly thanks to the international market, though it was the weakest-performing Ocean’s movie.
    Director: Steven Soderbergh.
    Cast: George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Matt Damon. Al Pacino. Andy Garcia. Don Cheadle. Casey Affleck. Scott Caan. Elliott Gould.
  • The popular but hardly zeitgeist-busting The Karate Kid (2010) remake.
    Director: Harald Zwart.
    Cast: Jackie Chan. Jaden Smith. Taraji P. Henson.
  • The upcoming Tarzan (2016).
    Director: David Yates.
    Cast: Alexander Skarsgård (as Tarzan). Margot Robbie (as Jane). Christoph Waltz.

Emmy Awards

Jerry Weintraub was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning three (shared with other producers):

  • Outstanding Special – Comedy, Variety or Music: An Evening with John Denver (1975).
  • Outstanding Miniseries or Movie: Behind the Candelabra (2013), starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Scott Thorson. In the supporting cast: Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Dan Aykroyd, Cheyenne Jackson, Austin Stowell, Ross Meyers, and Rob Lowe.
  • Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series: Years of Living Dangerously (2014), about global climate change.

Behind the Candelabra also earned its producers – including Weintraub – the 2014 Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television.

Ralph Macchio The Karate Kid image: Columbia Pictures.

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