My last post about the ongoing travails of the Weinstein Co. and its creditors sparked a question from a reader.
Nate said...D, I'm curious how it even gets to that point? While I'm sure I missed your fabulous explanation, just going by say... this post, it seems like the Wiesteins went from smart business to insanity. Were they replaced by pod people or what makes successful businesses just stop doing what works?My short answer to that question was "Ego."
But here's my long answer.
One of the greatest threats to an movie mogul's career is success.
Don't go clicking away to Perez Hilton, I have a point to what seems like an inane little maxim.
You see when you are a movie mogul, and you have some hits early on, that success can cause a severe case of head inflation. This head inflation can cause you to say things like: "Of course I'm right, I'm rich!"
The problem is that the whole decision making process then gets twisted from being based on the betterment of the company to the betterment of the mogul's ego. They start making major mistakes, but cannot see that those mistakes are theirs and put the blame on the idiocies of others who were just following their orders.
Now you are probably wondering how one can avoid this...
Well, legend says that in ancient Roman when a general was bestowed a triumphal parade, there was always a wizened old man sitting next to the man of the hour, periodically whispering in the fellow's ear: "Remember, all fame is fleeting."
A good mogul needs someone like that. Someone who can, discreetly if need be, tell the mogul that their idea is as nutty as a squirrel turd, and just as fragrant.
Also a good mogul cannot fear disagreement, in fact they should encourage it. You see any boss worth their salt hires people as smart, or smarter than they are. They also make those people feel that their contributions are valued, even if they're not used. There should be rules of civility in place when disagreements occur, not just to help people avoid saying things they shouldn't, but because it makes a person compose their arguments based on their merits, and not on how loudly they yell.
From just about every source I've ever seen, there is nothing like that at the Weinstein Co. or at their previous home at Miramax. Employees are terrified to disagree on mere trivialities, let alone anything major, and if they do poke up their heads to offer any alternative to the imperial fiats, reports say, it only serves to get those heads bitten off.
Now this bullying and melodramatic style could work for the short term, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but it's not going to work in the long term. It relies too much on being right all the time, and no human is right all the time (except me) and you need someone to let you know when you're about to drive off the cliff.
Also this management style makes a lot of enemies, and relationships that could have been profitable, end prematurely with a lot of bad blood and vitriol.
This is true for any business, but it's exponentially more troublesome in the movie biz where those who enjoy early success are kissed so hard on the ass, it rattles the brain. Also the glamor that a mogul gets from early success, tends to linger on as their "track record." This buys them a lot of forgiveness for future fumbles. I mean Jeff Zucker's still crowing about having the surviving members of KC & The Sunshine Band play on the street outside of the Today Show studio. Sure he's destroyed everything else the network has, but by golly look at that crowd doing the wave.
So you end up where TWC is now, bordering on a full flat-line, with more enemies than friends, and creditors having to take a lot of crap to see some sort of return on their investment.
I hope that answers your question.