The New York Times dropped a career bomb on Harvey Weinstein, the multiple Oscar-winning producer and Democrat power donor. According to the report, Weinstein has settled no fewer than eight sexual harassment complaints over 25 years, between 1990 and 2015. Weinstein, who has been married for most of those years, told the Times Thursday that he is “working with a therapist and planning to take a leave of absence” from his film company.
In a deeply cynical and somewhat pitiful bid to retain the affections of the Hollywood crowd in the wake of these horrific allegations, Weinstein announced he would use this time to attack the NRA and President Donald Trump:
I am going to need a place to channel that anger, so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party.
Lisa Bloom, a high-powered attorney usually standing with accusers, is representing Weinstein in this matter and told the Times that her client “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
That, however, is not a denial of all the claims.
Weinstein 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.”
Above and beyond the settlements are other accusations, including one from veteran Hollywood actress Ashley Judd. She claims that two decades ago, when she was still a movie star, and on the pretense of a breakfast meeting, Weinstein, who was then at the height of his fame, invited her to his hotel room “where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower[.]”
Things only went downhill from there, Judd alleged:
Mr. Weinstein soon issued invitation after invitation, she said. Could he give her a massage? When she refused, he suggested a shoulder rub. She rejected that too, she recalled. He steered her toward a closet, asking her to help pick out his clothing for the day, and then toward the bathroom. Would she watch him take a shower? she remembered him saying.
“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” Ms. Judd said. “It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.”
This appears to have been Weinstein’s modus operandi: breakfast meetings in hotel rooms, appearing in a robe or barely clothed, a request for a massage:
In interviews, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein: appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. The women, typically in their early or mid-20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next. One woman advised a peer to wear a parka when summoned for duty as a layer of protection against unwelcome advances.
According to one accuser, Weinstein went beyond indecent proposals. Italian model Ambra Battilana claims Weinstein “grabbed her breasts after asking if they were real and put his hands up her skirt[.]” The police got involved but no charges were filed. According to the Times, Weinstein later settled with Battilana.
One of the eight settlements reportedly includes actress Rose McGowan. For three years, between 2006 and 2009, McGowan was dating and later engaged to Robert Rodriguez, a director who regularly works with Weinstein, including 2015’s flop Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
Several of the allegations stem from a two-year period when Lauren O’Connor, a Weinstein employee, documented numerous complaints and compiled them in a 2015 memo. O’Connor complained, as did other females employees, that she was “being used to facilitate liaisons with vulnerable women who hoped he will get them work.” This included setting up private meetings with aspiring actresses in Weinstein’s hotel room.
The Times story also notes that Weinstein’s behavior has never been much of a secret. Rumors involving sexual harassment, a volcanic temper, and bullying of subordinates have swirled around Weinstein for two decades. But as I wrote earlier today…
Although allegations like these are nothing new and have been floating around (and even joked about) since the 1990s, no one would have dared come forward until now. Weinstein was just too powerful for too long[.]
Everyone wanted to work with him.
Everyone wanted him to pick up and distribute their passion project.
Weinstein was the bear no one dared poke.
Also protecting Weinstein from the consequences of his behavior are his “correct” politics. Weinstein is a leftist, a Democrat power donor, and high-profile political activist who passed himself off in public as a male feminist:
In 2015, the same year Ms. O’Connor wrote her memo, his company distributed “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about campus sexual assault. A longtime Democratic donor, he hosted a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton in his Manhattan home last year. He employed Malia Obama, the oldest daughter of former President Barack Obama, as an intern this year, and recently helped endow a faculty chair at Rutgers University in Gloria Steinem’s name. During the Sundance Film Festival in January, when Park City, Utah, held its version of the nationwide women’s marches, Mr. Weinstein joined the parade.
Today Weinstein is widely regarded as past his prime. Numerous reports indicate that the 65-year-old is in deep financial trouble. Moreover, he has not produced a hit or come near Oscar gold in nearly five years, and his highest profiles offerings have all bombed, including Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
Weinstein no longer has the juice to ruin anyone. Without that shield, it looks as though Weinstein faces a reckoning that has been a long time in coming.