“HARVEY WEINSTEIN owns Opus?!” Milo Bloom shouts incredulously.
“And it weren’t no easy deal to make!” replies sleazy lawyer Steve Dallas.
Sunday’s “Bloom County 2017” might seem merely to play the headlines of the Weinstein Scandal for laughs, except for one twist: a small, asterisked note that teases, “True. In 2001.”
Yes, creator Berkeley Breathed reassures The Post’s Comic Riffs via email Sunday: “The Weinstein Co. indeed owns” Opus the sweet–hearted penguin, who has been the heart and soul of “Bloom County” since joining the cast full time about a year after the strip’s 1980 launch.
As dozens of women share their stories of alleged sexual harassment and assault involving producer Harvey Weinstein, Breathed satirizes Weinstein’s “defense” of claiming to be a social dinosaur. “It was a different time! A playful time!” shouts the long-sexist Dallas, after admitting that he “sold the movie rights of Opus’s life to Hollywood.” (According to the strip, the deal moved along after a bikinied Bill the Cat gave Weinstein the “massage.”)
“We worked with the Weinstein(s) for nearly a decade to bring Opus’s best story to the screen,” Breathed tells The Post of the Hollywood production siblings who founded Miramax.
When Disney-owned Miramax was looking to grow its CG-animated film stable in the early 2000s, the beloved penguin appeared to be a good fit.
Yet the project seemed to go off the rails by 2005, when Harvey and brother Bob Weinstein left Disney to found their self-named company.
“It finally ended when I received a memo from Bob Weinstein ordering the script rewritten so that Opus didn’t speak,” Breathed says. “ ‘A talking penguin would confuse the audience’ was the explanation.”
“They were set and determined to make the cheapest animated film in Hollywood history, and they finally gave up trying to figure it out, thank God,” Breathed told the Houston Chronicle in 2007. (Four years later, Disney would adapt a Breathed children’s book into the CG-animated “Mars Needs Moms,” which grossed $39 million worldwide on a $150 million production budget.)
So how did Breathed leave it with the Weinsteins?
“I told them, ‘Bon voyage, adieu, good luck!’ ” the cartoonist says. “They fumbled along for a while. And [Opus] sits with them still.”
Opus continues to star in Breathed’s comic strip, which has been on and off over the years but reappeared for its fourth syndicated incarnation in 2015 when, the cartoonist said, “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me.” As for the penguin’s big-screen “oblivion” with the Weinsteins, on the other hand, the creator says: “If they choose to make a movie, they need to ask if I might assist.