Sharon Waxman‘s 3.8.07 N.Y. Times piece says First Look honcho Henry Winterstern was deep-sixed last Friday (Winterstern tells Waxman he resigned because the board didn’t want to buy Nu Image/Millennium Films) because of “a disastrous 2006 at the box office and a taste for spending, with little cash flow to show for it.”

(l.) deposed First Look chief Henry Winterstern; Benjamin Siegel

My impression from the Waxman article is that Winterstern is kind of a Bugsy Siegel character, and that he was whacked for the same reasons Siegel was shot to death, because he was too much about swagger and slick moves, too full of himself…too much of a big dreamer who lacked a balancing sense of financial prudence.

The clear impression from the Waxman story is that the First Look board members concluded last week that Winterstern “doesn’t respect money,” which, to go by Warren Beatty, James Toback and Barry Levinson‘s Bugsy, was Meyer Lansky‘s assessment of Siegel.

Waxman says Winterstern has a gangsterish look about him — i.e., “the craggy looks and hunched-over affect of a street fighter.” Oh, and one other analogy: Winterstern’s presumably a law-abiding sort, but to judge from the Waxman piece he spent gobs of money on a glistening showplace — moving the bulked-up First Look staff into the former CAA headquarters — in the same way Siegel spent gobs on the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

If Winterstern was going to spend big, he had to also bring in the bucks — and you sure as shit aren’t going to do that with movies like The Dead Girl, despite its fine reviews and powerhouse performances. First Look execs probably should have beat the bushes in search of the latest, cutting-edge slasher filmmakers (there’s a 22 year-old kid out there right now who knows exactly what the next wave of slasher/horror is all about) and released a couple of those to build up the bank account, and move on from there.