A New York Times investigation has shined a light on a long history of coercion by film executive Harvey Weinstein. From the Times,
“An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”
The Times piece outlines a pattern of abuse and harassment where Weinstein would invite young women in the film industry to various hotels in New York, Los Angeles, and London under the presumption that he would help their careers, only to turn the interaction into inappropriate and grimy requests.
Actress Ashely Judd was one of these women. The Times describes her meeting with Weinstein at a Beverly Hills hotel,
“Ashley Judd [went] to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, [Weinstein] had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.”
Judd said in an interview that women in the film industry have known about Weinstein’s behavior, “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
Weinstein’s behavior had become so notorious that according to Mark Gill, former president of Weisntein’s company Miramax, women would often meet with the film executive in groups in order to prevent any unwanted advances. Gill told the Times, “If a female executive was asked to go to a meeting solo, she and a colleague would generally double up.”
The Times details Weinstein settling with Rose McGowan in 1997, but Weinstein and his lawyers noted that this was not an admission of guilt, rather just to ‘buy peace’. From the Times,
“In 1997, Mr. Weinstein reached a previously undisclosed settlement with Rose McGowan, then a 23-year-old-actress, after an episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. The $100,000 settlement was ‘not to be construed as an admission’ by Mr. Weinstein, but intended to ‘avoid litigation and buy peace,’ according to the legal document, which was reviewed by The Times. Ms. McGowan had just appeared in the slasher film Scream and would later star in the television show “Charmed.” She declined to comment.”
Weinstein’s behavior, swept under the rug for decades, became tabloid fodder in recent years when he allegedly sexually assaulted an Italian model Ambra Battilana in Manhattan,
“In March 2015, Mr. Weinstein had invited Ambra Battilana, an Italian model and aspiring actress, to his TriBeCa office on a Friday evening to discuss her career. Within hours, she called the police. Ms. Battilana told them that Mr. Weinstein had grabbed her breasts after asking if they were real and put his hands up her skirt, the police report says.”
Now it turns out that Weinstein’s lawyer gave the Manhattan District Attorney’s office $10,000 in order to not pursue charges against Weinstein.
Weinstein has issued a written statement to the Times claiming he “came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.” It’s a bizarre statement, which you can read in full here, that seems to more or less acknowledge that Weinstein has behaved inappropriately and abusively towards women in the film industry.
Regardless, Weinstein is now suing the Times over their story.
This story goes against the public perception of Weinstein as a liberal champion of women’s rights. He was a massive donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, employed President Obama’s daughter Malia, and has participated in numerous women’s rights initiatives over the years.
The whole thing is gross but perhaps not that surprising. Men in these positions in the entertainment industry have used their power to coerce young women for years and now we can simply add Weinstein to this list.
There are surely more twists and turns to come in this story, stay tuned.