Harvey Weinstein is having his own disaster movie

by 06/10/2017 19:59:00 0 comments 1 Views

By Tom Leonard In New York For The Daily Mail

Published: 19:29 EDT, 6 October 2017 | Updated: 19:59 EDT, 6 October 2017

One of Hollywood’s most powerful moguls came crashing down from his pedestal yesterday after stunning revelations that he paid off at least eight women over sexual harassment claims.

Harvey Weinstein said he was taking leave of absence from his company to get therapy for his treatment of women. In a remarkable admission from one of the most tyrannical men in the movie business, the American ‘sincerely apologised’ for the pain he’d caused.

Weinstein, who was made a CBE by Tony Blair’s government for services to the British film industry, said he particularly wanted to ‘earn the forgiveness’ of the star actress Ashley Judd.

In an account of his bullying behaviour, which was echoed by a string of other women, Judd described how, in the late Nineties, Weinstein lured her to what she thought would be a breakfast meeting in his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel in LA to discuss film roles.

Harvey Weinstein leaves his New York family home with security. He was surrounded by photographers as he made his way to his awaiting SUV, pictured
Harvey Weinstein leaves his New York family home with security. He was surrounded by photographers as he made his way to his awaiting SUV, pictured

Harvey Weinstein leaves his New York family home with security. He was surrounded by photographers as he made his way to his awaiting SUV, pictured

Instead, the burly producer appeared in a dressing gown and asked if he could give her a massage. When she declined, he requested that she watch him take a shower.

‘I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,’ she told the widely respected New York Times, which broke the story this week. ‘It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.’

The actress described how she joked to him that she wouldn’t touch him until she had won an Oscar in one of his films. Judd, who says she’s heard of other actresses who received exactly the same treatment, walked out of the suite — and never heard from Weinstein’s studio again.

The newspaper said it had identified at least eight previously undisclosed instances in which Weinstein had paid money, sometimes as much as $150,000 (£115,000), to settle ‘complaints about his lewd behaviour’ covering nearly three decades.

Vince Vaughn, pictured back left, Harvey Weinstein, pictured right, and Ashley Judd at an Oscar party. Judd had heard of other actresses who received exactly the same treatment by Weinstein
Vince Vaughn, pictured back left, Harvey Weinstein, pictured right, and Ashley Judd at an Oscar party. Judd had heard of other actresses who received exactly the same treatment by Weinstein

Vince Vaughn, pictured back left, Harvey Weinstein, pictured right, and Ashley Judd at an Oscar party. Judd had heard of other actresses who received exactly the same treatment by Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein and Rose McGowan during the Grindhouse Los Angeles Premiere, pictured. McGowan had previously reached undisclosed settlement with Weinstein in 1997
Harvey Weinstein and Rose McGowan during the Grindhouse Los Angeles Premiere, pictured. McGowan had previously reached undisclosed settlement with Weinstein in 1997

Harvey Weinstein and Rose McGowan during the Grindhouse Los Angeles Premiere, pictured. McGowan had previously reached undisclosed settlement with Weinstein in 1997

They reportedly included the brunette actress Rose McGowan — who starred in the supernatural drama series Charmed — as well as a fashion model. The women were mostly in their 20s and alone with Weinstein when, they say he would appear either barely clothed or naked, coercing them to massage him or watch him in the shower.

According to the New York Times, McGowan reached a previously undisclosed settlement with Weinstein in 1997 over an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. She was 23 at the time.

In at least one other instance, he allegedly pressured a temporary assistant to have sex with him.

Providing compelling evidence that the notorious Hollywood ‘casting couch’ is alive and well, the women said Weinstein offered to advance their careers if they succumbed to his advances.

Some of this ugly behaviour reportedly took place in London, where Weinstein would sexually harass female staff while staying at the Savoy hotel. The most recent allegation reported by the New York Times was in March 2015.

‘Women have been talking about Harvey among ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly,’ said Ashley Judd. 

 Weinstein issued a statement saying: ‘I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment.

‘My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. I’ve brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company, and to deal with this issue head on.’

However, without providing examples, he accused the New York Times of ‘reckless reporting’. His lawyer said Weinstein ‘denies many of the accusations as patently false’, and would sue the newspaper.

The 65-year-old producer of Oscar-winning films including Shakespeare In Love, The English Patient and The King’s Speech has five children, including two by his second wife, the British fashion designer Georgina Chapman. 

He said that glamorous, Marlborough-educated Ms Chapman, his wife since 2007, would be ‘kicking my ass to be a better human being and to apologise to people for my bad behaviour’.

The 41-year-old former model from Richmond-upon-Thames, whose business was helped immeasurably by the readiness of her husband’s Hollywood friends to wear her designs at awards ceremonies, was reportedly livid after an Italian model accused Weinstein of groping her two years ago.

Weinstein rejected claims by model and aspiring actress Ambra Battilana that he grabbed her breasts and put his hands up her skirt. However, according to the New York Times, she was one of the women he paid off in a private settlement.

Yesterday, Georgina Chapman managed to smile for cameras as she emerged from the couple’s $15 million Manhattan home, refusing to comment on the scandal.

Harvey Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman is seen for the first time as she leaves their family home in New York amidst her husbands sexual allegations
Harvey Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman is seen for the first time as she leaves their family home in New York amidst her husbands sexual allegations

Harvey Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman is seen for the first time as she leaves their family home in New York amidst her husbands sexual allegations

Weinstein claims he has had ‘really tough conversations’ with his family, but that they are standing by him. The tantalising question is whether Hollywood will stand by him, too.

Embarrassingly for an industry priding itself on its progressive stance on women’s rights, many women confirmed yesterday that Weinstein’s behaviour has long been an open secret in Tinseltown.

However, over the years, instead of criticising or refusing to work with him, scores of female stars — including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench — have showered praise on him for championing their careers.

Streep once called him ‘God’ as she picked up a Golden Globe award, while Dame Judi has said she would never have had a film career without him.

While Hollywood allowed Weinstein to establish himself as a champion of liberal values, a staunch feminist and humanitarian, critics say that those who knew the truth about his private life were either blinded by ambition or silenced by the terror of crossing such a powerful and hot-tempered mogul.

The son of a diamond cutter from suburban New York, Weinstein and his brother Bob used the profits from a concert promotion business to set up their film distribution company, Miramax — named after their parents — in the Seventies.

Their first hit was The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, a collection of live performances by British comedians and musicians in aid of Amnesty International. After the success of the British thriller The Crying Game in 1993, the brothers sold Miramax to Disney for $80 million, but stayed at its helm until 2005, when they struck out on their own, building a reputation for upmarket if often violent films.

Pictured, Weinstein and first wife Eve Chilton, who was a former assistant of his
Pictured, Weinstein and first wife Eve Chilton, who was a former assistant of his

Pictured, Weinstein and first wife Eve Chilton, who was a former assistant of his

Weinstein — who had three children with his first wife, his former assistant Eve Chilton — is notorious for interfering in his films, ruthlessly cutting those he regards as too long or slow with a ferocity that earned him the nickname Harvey Scissorhands.

  His aggressive efforts to campaign for his films during the Oscar season — wildly out-spending other studios in his overtures to the judges — earned a ban on such tactics by the awards organisers.

He and his brother have notched up more than 300 Oscar nominations, while Weinstein has been thanked more times in Oscars acceptance speeches than anyone — including God.

Nonetheless, he has a reputation as a brutal bully, with a monstrous ego and volcanic temper. As Ashley Judd recalled, when confronted with the producer’s lewd behaviour in his hotel suite, she thought: ‘How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?’

His influence stretched far beyond the film industry and into politics, too.

A staunch Democrat, Weinstein was a prominent supporter of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. When Obama’s daughter, Malia, recently finished school, she got an internship with Weinstein’s company.

After the scandal broke yesterday, at least two Democratic senators gave away past donations they had received from Weinstein. America’s liberal elite is usually quick to jump on the bandwagon of condemning sexual harassment of women by powerful men. However, those who have worked with Weinstein were slow to comment.

One who did was the Tony-nominated British actress Jessica Hynes — star of BBC satire W1A — who said yesterday that she was once sacked from a film when, aged 19, she refused to do a screen test in a bikini for Weinstein. ‘I’m sure there are many more,’ she added.

Rose McGowan commented on Twitter: ‘Anyone who does business with _ is complicit. And deep down you know you are even dirtier. Cleanse yourselves.’

In a sign that colleagues may not wait for Weinstein to emerge from therapy a better man, the board of his business — the Weinstein Company — reportedly held an emergency meeting yesterday which he was expected to address. Rumours flew that Weinstein’s more amiable brother, Bob, and chief operating officer, David Glasser, will stage a coup.

It remains unclear precisely what the producer is admitting and what he is denying. His lawyer, Lisa Bloom, admitted he was ‘an old dinosaur learning new ways’.

She said she had ‘explained to him’ that, as a powerful studio boss dealing with far less influential women in the industry, ‘whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviours can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating’.Bloom also told U.S. breakfast TV yesterday that his behaviour had been ‘gross’ and agreed that it was also ‘illegal’.

Weinstein has attempted to justify his behaviour as having been a product of another Hollywood era. ‘I came of age in the Sixties and Seventies when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then,’ he claimed.

He said yesterday that he wanted another chance, ‘but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it’. Weinstein added: ‘I also have the worst temper known to mankind . . . I can’t talk specifics, but I put myself in positions that were stupid.’ 

According to the New York Times, executives at Weinstein’s company were warned about his behaviour in 2015 when a young female production executive, Lauren O’Connor, wrote a memo describing disturbing incidents involving herself and colleagues.

‘There is a toxic environment for women at this company,’ she wrote. ‘The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.’ She recounted how, a year earlier, Weinstein had summoned a woman called Emily Nestor, who had worked for just one day at his company as a temp, to the Peninsula Beverly Hills, and offered to advance her career if she accepted his sexual advances.

The following year, according to Ms O’Connor, a female assistant said Weinstein ‘badgered’ her into giving him a massage while he was naked at the same hotel, leaving her ‘crying and very distraught’.

Weinstein has disputed some of Ms O’Connor’s claims, and insists they parted on good terms.

The New York Times also reported the ugly behaviour spread across the Atlantic as he targeted female staff at his London office with ‘inappropriate requests or comments in hotel rooms’.

Laura Madden, a former employee there, said Weinstein pressured her for massages in hotels from 1991.

‘It was so manipulative. You constantly question yourself — am I the one who is the problem?’ she said. She confided to a colleague that she once locked herself sobbing in the bathroom of Weinstein’s hotel room.

One of his London assistants, Zelda Perkins, then 25, was paid off by the company’s lawyers when she confronted Weinstein in 1998 and threatened to ‘go public’, the newspaper reports. Ex-staff said women employees responded by never visiting Weinstein alone.

At least one Weinstein Company board member said he called for an independent investigation following Ms O’Connor’s claims, but the matter was dropped after Weinstein settled with his accuser.

Hollywood insiders say it’s easy to see why his reported victims were cowed into silence. As one commented yesterday, Tinseltown had a very permissive culture for a long time, and Weinstein has been very powerful for a long time, which is why women are only now feeling emboldened to speak out.

The ebullient Weinstein has long been one of Hollywood’s most colourful and controversial figures. 

Throwing his weight around: Weinstein has also become a huge Democratic donor over the years (above with Hillary Clinton in 2012)
Throwing his weight around: Weinstein has also become a huge Democratic donor over the years (above with Hillary Clinton in 2012)

Throwing his weight around: Weinstein has also become a huge Democratic donor over the years (above with Hillary Clinton in 2012)

Alliance: The film mogul was one of Obama's top 40 'bundlers' during his 2012 re-election, bringing in $679,275 for the candidate
Alliance: The film mogul was one of Obama's top 40 'bundlers' during his 2012 re-election, bringing in $679,275 for the candidate

Alliance: The film mogul was one of Obama's top 40 'bundlers' during his 2012 re-election, bringing in $679,275 for the candidate

A friend of Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton and ‘acquaintance’ of the disgraced paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, he and brother Bob revolutionised the industry when Miramax, showed independent outfits could compete.

He was a master at getting small films noticed by the Oscar judges, championing actresses as varied as Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Tara Fitzgerald and — most recently — the aristocratic model Cressida Bonas, former girlfriend of Prince Harry.

Gwyneth Paltrow, a Weinstein favourite whom he propelled to Oscars glory in Shakespeare In Love, repaid him by appearing in skimpy dominatrix gear in his society magazine, Talk.

‘There were certain favours that he asked me to do that I felt were not exploitive, but not necessarily as great for me as they were for him,’ she said later.

In the Nineties, Hollywood watchers wondered at the way pretty, young but not always very talented actresses would suddenly — and unaccountably — attract huge media buzz as Weinstein took them under his wing.

Long-time speculation over which of those ‘Harvey Girls’ have succumbed to his sexual overtures has inevitably been given new life by the latest revelations.

When Ashley Judd wrote about her experience — without identifying Weinstein — in 2015, she said she had discovered that a ‘bunch’ of other actresses had had the same ordeal — right down to the producer asking each of them to watch him in the shower.

Notoriously demanding of colleagues, and pugnaciously aggressive towards anyone who gets in his way, Weinstein is nicknamed The Punisher in Hollywood. Time will tell if he finally earns the new title of The Punished. 

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