According to a bombshell story in The New York Times, Hollywood super-producer Harvey Weinstein has engaged in the systematic sexual harassment of actresses (including Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan), former assistants, and employees over a three-decade period. During that time, he reached at least eight legal settlements – the most recent with an Italian model in 2015.
Weinstein — the studio exec behind 6 Best Picture Oscars, including “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting” — told the Times he “came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
Um, ew. NOT a good way to begin your defense, dude. (See: Polanski, Roman)
He added, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
He went on to quote Jay-Z’s “4:44” track “I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children” and asked for a second chance. According to the Times, he’s seeing therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to deal with his issues.
Yeah, good luck with THAT.
Variety has an interesting post-mortem on his career (which they say is unequivocally OVER).
If previous scandals involving Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes are any indication, this will be the first of many damaging articles about Weinstein’s misbehavior. Such stories tend to have a dam-bursting impact, jarring loose stories of misbehavior and emboldening women to come forward publicly with fresh allegations.
…Most likely, his ostracization will come from the creative community. Will Netflix want to buy shows from the Weinstein Co. if Harvey Weinstein is still at the helm? Will Michael Moore and other liberal filmmakers want their projects appearing under the Weinstein Co. banner? Will the CAAs and WMEs of the world remain willing to let their clients place projects with the indie company?
His other problems will involve financing. It seems unlikely that a major investment firm will feel comfortable signing up for another round of backing with Weinstein. There’s not much of a company without him, and right now his brand is toxic.
Hollywood is a relationship business and the movie business’ tendrils spread out in thousands of different directions. Many prominent names will have trouble distancing themselves from a worsening Weinstein story. As the Times story makes clear, Weinstein’s alleged history of abuse dates back 30 years, extending to his days running Miramax, the Oscar-winning studio behind “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.” At the time, Miramax was owned by Disney.
How much did executives at the company know about Weinstein’s behavior? Did they do enough to safeguard their employees or are they complicit in creating a toxic workplace environment? Was Disney’s money used to pay off Weinstein’s accusers? Spokespeople for the studio did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But these stories have a way of leaving everyone dirty.
In truth, the noose has been tightening for years around Harvey Weinstein. There’s been a bunker-like mentality at the Weinstein Co. for years, as the indie studio’s money troubles have worsened and as it tried to migrate away from prestige fare and into television. There were too many film flops such as “Tulip Fever,” “Burnt,” and “Gold,” and persistent mutterings that the company could no longer pay its bills. High profile executives would leave, with positions remaining vacant or filled by junior staffers. It’s been a while since the studio was a major force at film festivals, swinging its checkbook around to nab the hottest Sundance titles….
Even before the reports broke, agents were already wary about working with Weinstein because of reports that its money was running out. One agent told Variety that the Times’ report will give them an even bigger reason to stay away from the studio.
In some respects, Thursday’s piece was the confirmation of decades of rumors and shop talk that have clung to Weinstein. At various times, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker (which has its own competing piece still set to launch) have tried to break this story. They’ve aggressively pursued the angle of whether or not Weinstein used corporate funds at Miramax to pay for legal settlements with women. In most cases, Weinstein was able to successfully hit back at those claims. Another stumbling block was that many women did not want to go on the record with their allegations. That will likely change with the Times piece.
Weinstein is a fighter, a screamer, and a bully. He’s paying big money to top lawyers and is on the hunt for public relations firms in search of advocates. He’s probably not going to go quietly and his attorneys will be pitbulls. But in the court of public opinion, the jury may already be out. Threats may not be enough this time.
(Photo: Pacific Cost News)
UPDATE: Despite his regrets, Weinstein prepares to sue the Times for their story.
Says his attorney Charles Harder:
“The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” Harder said in a statement to HuffPost. “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses.”
“We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish,” the statement read. “We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”