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A Hollywood tale, told 'His Way'


WHEN | WHERE Monday night at 9 on HBO

REASON TO WATCH Imagine yourself a Hollywood producer who knows all the stars, makes all the money, lives in the coolest mansions, gets the greatest dames.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT That's Jerry Weintraub, a '40s Bronx boy who learns business by shoveling sidewalks and delivering laundry, then brashes his way to the American dream. As his brother says in this admiring (largely self-told) portrait, "He's gonna sell you something, and you're gonna buy it, and you're gonna be happy about it."

First, Jerry's in the talent agency business, then on his own. Broadway Danny Rose? Weintraub proudly tells the camera that's him. He takes Elvis on tour, creates Sinatra's Main Event, makes John Denver a star. Movies? Why not? The fledgling producer makes "Diner" and "The Karate Kid." Setbacks? His own independent studio craters; he comes back with "Ocean's 11" (followed by "12" and "13").

Who are his pals? Well, get a gander of the witnesses interviewed here, in ritzy settings oozing Rat Pack style (the Monkey Bar, ocean-view backyards, in front of painted portraits of self, etc.). There are George and Barbara Bush, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, for starters.

There are tales of legends and pranks. And the women? Oy. The stories Jerry can tell.

MY SAY You couldn't ask for a more colorful character. Or for one more pleased with his own colorfulness. In lieu of narration, we have Weintraub talking, and talking, and talking, indulging his memories until you want to remind him that he only got 50 percent of Elvis after Col. Parker took his cut, so maybe 50 percent also might be the more appropriate length for any run-on story with which he'd like to regale us.

The indulgence gets annoying, even as the basic details are fascinating and fun, as are the seductive testimony settings. You gotta love the fantasy of all those swank joints and modern mansions (Beverly Hills, Malibu, Palm Springs). Guys also get to groove to the fancy of Weintraub's "European" marriage with songstress Jane Morgan.

BOTTOM LINE "What a world, what a life," sings Sinatra. Dream on.


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