As martial arts film fanboys and girls are aware, there’s been talk of a sequel to, or remake of Bruce Lee’s iconic 1973 “Enter the Dragon” for five years — at least. Now, producer Fred Weintraub tells us that he expects “Awaken the Dragon” to be his next filmic undertaking, and it’s actually a prequel to the vintage film.
Who could possibly follow in Lee’s footsteps?
“No one. That’s why it’s a prequel,” Weintraub replies. He adds, deadpan, “Unless I get Bruce to come back from that Shaolin temple in Korea where he’s been teaching Elvis.”
Right now, Weintraub is hitting the promotional trail for his new “Bruce Lee, Woodstock and Me” memoir — a fun read that offers a ringside table to some watershed moments in pop culture history in which Weintraub was personally involved. Besides the madness that went on behind the camera in China while making “Enter the Dragon,” there’s Weintraub’s years as owner of New York’s famed The Bitter End nightclub. There, he stood up for the rights of controversial singers including Pete Seeger, got into hot water when Lenny Bruce spewed obscenities from his stage, and helped start the careers of stars like Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Neil Diamond. There’s also the wild tale of the making of “Woodstock,” the movie that saved Warner Bros. — and Hollywood — in 1970, which was Weintraub’s first feature as a Warner Bros. VP. And more.
In early April, he’ll be back at The Bitter End, now celebrating its 50th anniversary year. “I’m going to do a signing. I’ve talked to Robert Klein, Judy Collins — I spoke to Woody. I don’t know who’ll come, but some of them will come,” he says. “It will be like home week for me.”
MEANWHILE: Weintraub, who does lectures, is used to being surrounded by eager film students asking questions. “People ask, ‘What’s happening to the movie business? Is this the end?’ And I say, ‘It’s the beginning! This is the time of the greatest opportunity ever. In five years, there’ll be 10 million people paying $2 to see a new movie on its first night on the internet. I found the business fun. It’s still fun,” insists the octogenarian filmmaker.
“I’m a great advocate of anybody in the business getting a liberal arts education. Don’t just learn how to edit, how to use a camera. Know art and music — all of it. Every producer I know who was successful had other interests besides making movies.”