Harvey Weinstein Responds to Brent Bozell, Claims He's Just a 'Story Teller' and Not Anti-Catholic

On Friday's Piers Morgan Live, Obama donor and film mogul Harvey Weinstein denied charges of anti-Catholicism in his latest movie "Philomena," but his anti-Catholic past shows otherwise.

"Well Brent Bozell, was the one a conservative columnist who, you know, accused me of that," Weinstein said of the accusations. He added later, "it's not an anti-Catholic bias. I made 'The Price About Rubies' with Renee Zellweger," and he claimed to be "a story teller" who just tells "heroic stories."

"I tell heroic stories. And if I tell heroic stories about a woman like Philomena who finds her way, we tell heroic stories about people who take on the NRA," Weinstein insisted.

Yet as Bozell wrote, Weinstein's film history shows a clear anti-Catholic strain that continues in Philomena. "It's not at all hard to see the vicious stereotyping of 'evil' nuns in this movie," he said, quoting New York Post film critic Kyle Smith: "The movie makes this particular Irish Catholic institution look about as pleasant as Abu Ghraib." Smith was writing of Roscrea Abbey, which figures prominently in the movie.

The Catholic League's Bill Donohue pointed to a New York Times review of Philomena that admitted the film's liberal thrashing of the church, adding "This is a straightforward pitch to anti-Catholic bigots."

Donohue also listed Weinstein's past anti-Catholic films: "Priest," which was originally supposed to be launched on Good Friday; "Dogma"; "40 Days and 40 Nights"; and "The Magdalene Sisters."

Below is a transcript of the segment:

CNN
PIERS MORGAN LIVE
1/17/14
[9:27 p.m. EST]

PIERS MORGAN: Clip from Philomena , nominated for best picture, best actress, best screenplay and score. Joining me now is the real-life Philomena Lee, the inspiration for the movie. And back with me is Harvey Weinstein. Philomena, it's lovely to meet you. How do you feel – I was watching you there, watching Judi Dench playing you in a Hollywood movie. Did you ever think ever this could ever happen to you?

PHILOMENA LEE: Did I ever? Never in my wildest dreams have I ever thought that Judi Dench -- Judi Dench, which I've always admired – I've watched everything on her, James Bond, everything -- Judi Dench. When I actually told my friends about it, they were – they thought I was going a bit, you know.

MORGAN:  Harvey's been involved in a lot of controversy about the way he's alleged to portray the Catholic Church. People getting very agitated about it. You're obviously an Irish Catholic –  I'm an Irish Catholic too. What is your view about that allegation really, that it makes the Catholic Church look bad deliberately?

LEE: When I started out, the only thing I started out was to find Anthony and to tell my story as it was, as it happened completely a true story. Nothing against – because I'm still a Catholic. The times in the 50's – my mother died when I was six and I was put into a convent school in Limerick. So my whole religion was Catholic, Catholic. And I still believe I am – believe in being a Catholic. And I lost it for little while after Anthony left.

MORGAN: It's a very powerful and moving story, your story. And you try and find your son after all these years. And very sadly discover that he's already died. But what is particularly pointed I think is that he actually went back and asked to be buried before he died in the very home where you gave birth to him, trying to bring himself somehow back to you.

LEE: When he went back looking for me, he went with his partner. And he requested from his partner said "when I die" – because the third time I think they still wouldn't tell him, and he was dying then, "When I die, will you please bring my ashes back so that maybe one day Mama might find me," you know. So, he -- so intense. And I think from the age of three-and-a-half, he did remember me, you know.

MORGAN: How did that make you feel when you discovered that?

LEE: Oh, I couldn't believe it. And apparently, he'd been there nine years before we found out. Buried. (Unintelligible) to Dublin, an hour away. The partner brought a picture of when he was buried, you know, the – sorry. All of the staff at the home – he was buried in a little abbey ruin within the grounds. And they were all there. The priests from Dublin were there. They were all there and there are my – and there was only 95 and had retired by the stage from nursing. So, you know, it – some other things.

MORGAN: Very sad story

LEE: I still – yeah.

MORGAN: But it's also – the allegation is the nuns who took in your son ended up selling him to an American couple in Boston.

LEE: That's right.

MORGAN: Do you believe that is what happened?

LEE: Well, at that time I was only a young teenager. I didn't know the ethics of the Catholic Church or the hierarchy of the – did I know, I just believed everything the nuns told us from the ages of six to 18 when I left there and afterwards as well. But I didn't know that they were selling babies, all I knew is I had to stay there until I found him a home, and they did him a home. Good Catholic home.

MORGAN: Harvey, it's –

LEE: I didn't know anything about it.

MORGAN: Right. It – .

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: But the thing about it is, is when she tried to find her son later on, they never gave her the information. And then, when her son tried to find her they never gave him the information and they burned the records. Today Piers, you know, there's a movement as a result of this movie. It's not coming from us, it's coming out of Ireland, it's coming out of the Vatican, it's coming everywhere which is there are 25,000 of these children like Anthony in the United States. They won't give the records. They will not. Even the Irish government won't give the records. So, they want to get those. And then there's kids all over the world. So today, I mean as I showed you the United Nations is asking the Vatican. And today's story, United Nations, as a result of this film – the United Nations is going to ask the Vatican to intercede with the church to release the names of these people across the world and the 25,000 people a year.

Philomena was at a screening where a woman came up and said, "I was with Anthony, at Roscrea" I mean, you know, and we don't know who these people are. We don't know what happened to them, where they're in good homes, bad homes –

MORGAN: And to those who say come on, Harvey, it's not the first time that you've popped at the Catholic Church. You clearly have an agenda against the Catholic Church, you're Jewish and you don't like Catholics. What do you say to that?

WEINSTEIN: Well Brent Bozell, was the one conservative columnist who, you know, accused me of that. And I think Bill Donohue at the Catholic league. And it's not the first time – you're right. I did the movie "Priest". And my mother almost whacked me for that movie. And then five years later in Boston a scandal breaks out which is exactly the theme of the movie, which was that a priest was involved in the molestation of a boy in the choir and they heard about it in the confessional. When I made the movie, you know, they -- every bad headline you could imagine, you know, was raised against me but it's not an anti-Catholic basis. I made "The Price About Rubies" with Renee Zellweger. I criticized the Hadassahs. You know, I've been on the side of the Palestinians with Miral. I'm a story teller.

MORGAN: You basically let everybody have it. You're a non-discriminating whacker of everyone.

WEINSTEIN: I tell heroic stories. And if I tell heroic stories about a woman like Philomena who finds her way, we tell heroic stories about people who take on the NRA.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014