Newsweek Cover: 'The Next Spielberg' From 'Sixth Sense' to 'Signs,' M. Night Shyamalan is Hollywood's Hottest New Storyteller

Premiere of Movie 'XXX' Pushed Back A Week Instead of Release on Same Date As

'Signs'; 'They're Scared to Death, Man,' Shyamalan Says

Fracas Over 1996'S 'WIDE AWAKE' with Miramax's Weinstein and Rosie O'Donnell

Was Pivotal Moment in Career; O'Donnell: 'Thank God Harvey Didn't Crush Him,

Because it Takes A Lot to Stand Up to That'

Jul 28, 2002, 01:00 ET from Newsweek

    NEW YORK, July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Film director M. Night Shyamalan's
 "Signs" will open after "Austin Powers 3" and before "XXX." The latter was set
 to open the same day as "Signs," but the "XXX" folks opted against going head
 to head and moved it back seven days, Newsweek reports in the current issue.
 "They're scared to death, man," Shyamalan tells Newsweek. "They're absolutely
     (Photo: )
     In the Newsweek August 5 cover story, "The Next Spielberg," (on newsstands
 Monday, July 29), Senior Editor Jeff Giles profiles Shyamalan who discusses
 his approach to movies and his obsession with understanding why audiences do
 the things they do. "Last year was probably the worst year for movies for me
 since I've been alive," he says. "It was the worst. The quality of movies in
 general ... And what that creates is a starvation in the audience. And,
 ironically, what that creates is ... If they know they what they're getting --
 like a franchise, something established -- the starvation says, 'I'll take
 that. I'll come in droves.'"
     Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense" grossed nearly $700 million worldwide. And
 Disney paid him $5 million to write "Signs," and $7.5 million to direct. But
 he hasn't always been so successful. He tells Giles that in 1996, when he was
 trying to get his second feature film, "Wide Awake," released, he went through
 a fracas with Miramax Co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and Rosie O'Donnell, who
 was cast in the film, that he says was a pivotal moment in his career. After
 Shyamalan edited the film, Weinstein insisted that it be recut. During a
 meeting, O'Donnell, who was on speakerphone, intervened on Shyamalan's behalf.
 She told Weinstein that she didn't want him to release the film "unless it's
 Night's version," she remembers. "'He's the artist. You're just the guy who
 frames it and sells it,'" O'Donnell remembers saying. "Well, you know what?
 That didn't go over big," she tells Newsweek. "He started saying, 'Who do you
 think you are? You're just a f---ing talk-show host!' He went off. I was
 stunned. I thought he knew that he acquired the films and that the other
 people were the artists. I didn't think it was news to him. He said, 'Like you
 would f---king know. You b----! You c---!' "
     After the blowup, O'Donnell cried and told Weinstein to shove it somewhere
 very specific. "Night called me afterwards, like, 'Oh my God, are you
 alright?'" she says. "Thank God Harvey didn't crush him, because it takes a
 lot to stand up to that. I gotta tell you, it takes a lot to make me cry and
 he totally made me cry." O'Donnell says Weinstein later apologized and sent
 her jewelry and flowers. Asked to respond to all of this, Weinstein sent
 Newsweek a gentlemanly statement: "Night is an incredibly talented filmmaker,
 and it's unfortunate for us that we were unable to find a successful way to
 market 'Wide Awake.' It's one of my great disappointments, since I loved the
 film. Thank God for DVD."
     "Harvey's just the way the world is," Shyamalan says. "If the movie was
 great and was going to make a lot of money, it would have gone very smoothly."
 The episode taught him that making uncommercial movies makes you vulnerable
 and that, as he puts it, "I never want to be weakened and victimized again."
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