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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jerry Weintraub talks about faith, lessons learned

The Desert Sun Profile

Bruce Fessier • The Desert Sun • May 16, 2010

Jerry Weintraub doesn't consider himself religious.

But, after making millions of dollars as a concert
promoter for the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra,
Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan, and as a producer of
films such as “Diner,” “Oh, God!” and the “Karate
Kid” franchise, Weintraub began paying attention to
what he calls a higher power.

“I've had this turmoil about religion my whole life —
not just Judaism but Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism,”
he says from his walled, two-story estate in Beverly
Hills. “It seems like every war is fought over
religion. That's why I like to say I'm spiritual, not
religious. I believe in a higher power. I don't know
what that higher power is, but I believe in it.”

Weintraub, who also owns a modern marvel in the
Palm Desert foothills, recounts many of his show biz
stories in his new book, “When I Stop Talking, You'll
Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories From A Persuasive
Man.”

But he tells them from the perspective of a man who
has gained a new level of wisdom after 72 years on
this planet. He tries to pass along lessons he's
learned from his mistakes as well as his successes.

“One of those lessons is that, from the age of 20 to
40, I could have been a much better father,”
Weintraub says. “I didn't go to ballet recitals and
Little League games. I was so involved with what I
was doing and the life I was making for my family
and myself that I didn't realize how much I was
missing. I had a lot of trouble for not being there all
the time. On the other hand, I was able to give my
family a lot of things they never would have had. I'm
still learning about this.”

Weintraub said he has had many rather mystical
experiences in his life. Some might seem like
coincidences — like the day before his Desert Sun
interview when a Paramount Pictures executive told
him over lunch that he was seeking a script for a
team of older A-list actors for a project like “Ocean's
Eleven.”


Weintraub said his “Ocean's Eleven” screenwriters
had written just such a film, titled “The Belmont
Boys.” He told the studio head he'd contact them
ASAP. Then he called his secretary to tell her to find
the New York-based writers because a development
deal was on the line.

The next day, he said, he was having breakfast with
another studio head at the Four Seasons Hotel in
Beverly Hills when he looked around and, sitting in
the next booth, were those very “Ocean's Eleven”
writers.

“I cannot tell you how many hundreds and
hundreds of times this has happened to me,”
Weintraub said just hours after telling those writers
of their stroke of luck. “I don't know if it happens to
everybody, but it happens to me. That's not a talent.
That's a situation I'm put into.

“I'm not saying I don't work at it. I do. But somehow,
it's always there for me. It gets there. That's why I
believe there's something else.”

One of his most remarkable mystical experiences
prompted him to post a photograph over his bed in
Beverly Hills of the kind of religious figure he was
always conflicted about.

It isn't accompanied by pictures of his wife or kids
or celebrity friends such as Sinatra, George Clooney

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