Sam Neill was due to come, and Geoffrey Rush was to present Weinstein with a special award at a gala dinner.
He’s one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, famous for launching careers and sprinkling Oscar dust wherever he goes.
But if there’s one person who can bring Harvey Weinstein to his (injured) knees, it’s his doctor.
The great Hollywood mogul was all set to fly to Canberra from the United States this weekend to take part in a weekend-long celebration of his life’s work.
Rachel Griffith and Guy Pearce were both due to attend events on the weekend.
But just two days before his scheduled arrival, he has been ordered by his doctor to stay put at home after injuring his knee.
It was one of the most anticipated weekends of the year in Canberra, with hundreds of people, many from interstate, holding tickets to a series of events happening around the city, including a masterclass with Weinstein and an in-depth conversation about his life and times.
A number of Hollywood stars – dubbed “Harvey’s Alumni” for the role Weinstein had played in their careers – were set to attend, including Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths.
Harvey Weinstein attends the 'Only God Forgives' Premiere during the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Photo: Getty
The centerpiece was to be a gala ball at Parliament House on Saturday night, for which attendees had paid $440 a head to dine with the stars and see Geoffrey Rush present Weinstein with the inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Fellowship.
But with Weinstein now officially a no-show, organisers of the inaugural Body of Work event are scrambling to contact attendees and ticket holders, with an assurance that all tickets will be fully refunded.
In the meantime, Weinstein issued a statement describing his disappointment.
“It’s with great disappointment that doctors’ orders force me to cancel my plans to be in Australia due to a knee injury,” he said, through his film company.
“I was incredibly excited to take part in the Canberra Body of Work weekend and humbled to accept the festival’s generous honour. I know a tremendous amount of hard work and man power has gone into the planning and orchestration of the event, and I cannot express my appreciation enough to all those who took part. My sincerest thanks to the Body of Work festival for their understanding and continued support.”
And to assure us that this is no Hollywood blustering, the statement also included one from his physician, Dr Andrew Feldman, who, it was pointed out, is also the chief physician for the American ice hockey team the New York Rangers.
"After Mr Weinstein’s recent fall, he needs an immediate operation which, of course, he refuses as he still wants to go to Australia,” Dr Feldman said.
“Our fear is that the 30-hour flight can cause a blood clot - deep vein thrombosis - and we’re absolutely insisting in no uncertain terms that he does not take the trip and instead treats his knee. This is the second time this has happened in two years.”
Director of the event Nicole Mitchell announced Thursday afternoon that the festival simply would not be able to proceed without the guest of honour, but that Weinstein would be helping to cushion the blow.
“As a gesture of his commitment to our event, Harvey has made a very generous cash donation to the organisation to assist with lost revenue and ticket refunds,” she said.
Needless to say, this will run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the cancellation of several catered events, including a lavish three-course meal at the Parliament House ball, as well as accommodation for the many people travelling from out of town for the event, for which they had paid up to $100 per session.
The event had also been several years in the planning, and involved many hours of painstaking negotiations with actors and venues.
There was no indication as to when the event would be rescheduled, but tickets were being automatically refunded.
“We offer our sincerest apologies to ticketholders for the remaining sessions and we are currently working to personally contact them as quickly as possible to organise a refund or deferment of their tickets until a new date for the festival can be scheduled,” Ms Mitchell said.
“I, and the Canberra International Film Festival board of directors, are obviously very disappointed not to be able to see this inaugural Body of Work Festival come to life as planned, with so many people working hard towards the event, but we are committed to ensuring a successful event in the new year.”
The premiere screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – the film personally chosen by Weinstein for its Australian premier in Canberra - will still take place at 4.45pm on Sunday November 24 at Palace Electric, as scheduled.