On Thursday, The New York Times released a lengthy exposé on famed Hollywood movie executive Harvey Weinstein, describing decades' worth of allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and settlements involving different women, including actress Ashley Judd.
In a statement released to The New York Times, Lisa Bloom, a lawyer advising Weinstein, said, "He denies many of the accusations as patently false." Weinstein also released a statement that read, in part, "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.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, Weinstein's attorney, Charles Harder, said his client is planning on suing the Times. "The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein," Harder told THR via email. "It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations."
The exposé has understandably taken over the news cycle. Now more than ever, Weinstein is coming under scrutiny regarding the allegations. If you're aren't familiar with the powerhouse producer, here are a few things you should know about him, his life and how he became such a big shot in the entertainment industry.
According to the University of Buffalo, where Weinstein earned a B.A. in English, he got his start producing rock concerts with his fellow student Horace "Corky" Burger. "The first was a hugely successful 1972 Stephen Stills concert that led to the founding of Harvey and Corky Productions, which quickly became a fixture on the Buffalo music scene," the university reports.
According to The Washington Post, in 1979 Weinstein and his brother, Bob, co-founded Miramax, the well-known entertainment company that produces and distributes films and television shows.
The Weinstein brothers started finding fame in the '80s with several breakout hits, including Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, James Spader), My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis' role won him an Oscar in 1990) and Cinema Paradiso (won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1990).
Weinstein was married to Eve Chilton until 2004. According to New York Magazine, Chilton was his assistant in 1986. They have three daughters: Lily, Emma and Ruth.
As reported by The Los Angeles Times in May 1993, the Walt Disney Co. bought Miramax. After the acquisition, Miramax produced some top movies that are still hits today, including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Scream, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love.
In June 1994, The Los Angeles Times reported that Woody Allen scored a deal with Miramax for his film Bullets Over Broadway, despite coming under scrutiny and being "shunned," per the outlet, over his custody battle with ex-wife Mia Farrow and the child abuse allegations brought against him by Farrow's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. In February 2014, Dylan wrote an open letter published in The New York Times regarding the allegations she's made against Allen. Later that same February, Allen denied her claims in a response, also published in The New York Times.
After making a deal with Miramax, Weinstein released the following statement (via The Los Angeles Times): "Shunned by Hollywood means nothing to Miramax. We're talking about a comic genius. Chaplin was shunned by Hollywood; so were a great many other international filmmakers, including Fellini — and those are the people who belong with Miramax."
It wasn't until 2015, while chatting with Variety for its Power of Women issue, that Judd claimed a studio mogul (she didn't provide a name) had once sexually harassed her. She alleged that while shooting Kiss the Girls in 1997, the man basically lured her to his hotel room for a so-called "meeting," then tried to force her to give him a massage or watch him shower.
In The New York Times piece released Thursday, Weinstein is named as the man Judd described in the 2015 Variety interview. “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” she said she wondered at the time. Judd also said, "I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask. It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining."
In an interview with Page Six on Friday, Weinstein said regarding Judd's allegations, "I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now, I read her book [her memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now, I am going to reach out to her."
The same year that Judd was allegedly harassed, The New York Times reported on Thursday, Weinstein reached an undisclosed $100,000 settlement with actress Rose McGowan after an alleged hotel room incident that reportedly took place at the Sundance Film Festival. According to legal documents obtained by the Times, the settlement reached was "not to be construed as an admission" by Weinstein, but a way to "avoid litigation and buy peace." McGowan declined to comment to the paper, but after the exposé of Weinstein was published on Thursday, she tweeted, "Women fight on. And to the men out there, stand up. We need you as allies. #bebrave."
Over the course of the 2000s, Weinstein helped produced some more recognizable films, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Scream 3, Chocolat, Cold Mountain, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Chicago and Inglourious Basterds, to name a few.
In 2004, he was appointed an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the British film industry.
In December 2007, Weinstein married British designer Georgina Chapman. They are still married today and have two children: a daughter, India Pearl, and a son, Dashiell.
As for the allegations made against her husband, Chapman hasn't spoken out directly yet, but Weinstein told Page Six on Friday, "She stands 100 percent behind me. Georgina and I have talked about this at length. We went out with Lisa Bloom last night when we knew the article was coming out. Georgina will be with Lisa and others kicking my ass to be a better human being and to apologize to people for my bad behavior, to say I’m sorry, and to absolutely mean it."
2009: He defends Roman Polanski
In September 2009, Weinstein wrote a letter published in The Independent in defense of Roman Polanski (director of Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown), who has been accused repeatedly of sexual misconduct with underage girls, as reported by Rolling Stone. Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after "fearing he could face a prison sentence for having an unlawful sexual relationship with" a 13-year-old girl (he was arrested and charged with rape), according to The Telegraph. On Wednesday, CBS News reported, a German woman came forward to claim that Polanski raped her 45 years ago in Gstaad, Switzerland, while she was just a teenager. Polanski doesn't seem to have commented on these allegations yet.
As for Weinstein, his 2009 op-ed stated, "I hope the U.S. government acts swiftly because filmmakers are looking for justice to be properly served. I will be organizing the effort myself by emailing everybody I know to sign the petition." He also wrote, "Roman Polanski is a man who cares deeply about his art and its place in this world. What happened to him on his incredible path is filled with tragedy, and most men would have collapsed. Instead, he became a great artist and continues to make great films."
In 2008, NBC Universal sued the Weinstein Co. for making a deal to move Project Runway from Bravo to Lifetime. The Weinstein Co. later settled with NBC Universal for an undisclosed amount.
The Weinstein Co. released some more blockbusters, including The Fighter, The King's Speech, My Week With Marilyn, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Lee Daniels' The Butler, August: Osage County and Lion.
In February 2011, Michael Moore took legal action in a multimillion-dollar battle against the Weinstein Co., claiming he was owed millions in profits for his 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. In February 2012, the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
The Weinstein Co. released the following statement after the settlement (via THR): "Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s Fellowship Adventure Group and Michael Moore have amicably settled the lawsuit involving an accounting dispute on Fahrenheit 9/11, and they look forward to the prospect of working together on future projects."
In 2012, Weinstein made TIME's 100 List as "one of the most influential people" in the world. Johnny Depp honored Weinstein with a short piece that read, in part, "Now, no one gets to the top without the occasional scrap. While he's certainly the charming servant to film he purports to be, Harvey isn't afraid of a duke-'em-out. (I've had the pleasure of being both his ally and his enemy at various times.) He stops at nothing for what he believes in."
In December 2013, Bob and Harvey once again joined forces with Miramax in a multi-year co-production and co-distribution deal for movies, TV and stage titles in the Miramax library. "This is an amazing opportunity to work with the company named after our parents, Miriam and Max,” they said in a statement (via Variety).
In March 2015, Weinstein faced sexual abuse claims, as first reported by People. At the time, a woman claimed that he groped her, and she filed a report stating he sexually assaulted her in New York City that month, an NYPD spokesperson confirmed to the outlet. On March 31, Weinstein's rep released the following statement to Bustle: "We are cooperating fully with the authorities and are confident that we will be fully vindicated."
And that brings us to the latest news involving Weinstein. As of Friday, the Weinstein Co. announced that Weinstein has taken an indefinite leave and that an outside law firm would investigate the allegations made against him. We will keep you updated as the story continues to unfold.
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