A blockbuster story detailing allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein has been published by The New York Times.
The story alleges that the Hollywood producer sexually harassed women inside and outside the company for years.
This follows many stories that have been emerging of the producers epic sexual abuse of starlets, actresses and even TV anchors many of them leading as far back as thirty years.
Actress Ashley Judd told the paper that she was asked to massage Weinstein and was invited to watch him shower. The article includes details of several other alleged instances of harassment over the course of several decades.
Judd is quoted in The Times as saying: “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.”
Weinstein is the producer of many top blockbuster movies such as “Pulp Fiction,” “Life Is Beautiful” and “Chicago and for many years, has been on the top of Hollywood’s hierarchy with his brother Bob.
The top shot maverick producer worked with Brad Pitt on big movies such as “Inglourious Basterds”, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and , “True Romance” – and on “Cold Mountain”, The Others” and “The Human Stain” with Nicole Kidman,
He is considered a king and queen maker in Hollywood.
According to Kim Masters, host of The Business on KCRW, and editor-at-large of The Hollywood Reporter: “In the day, Harvey Weinstein was a magician in the Oscar race. Many people have statuettes on their mantle because of him”
The harassment allegations, which have long been rumored in Hollywood, were finally put squarely in the public sphere after The New York Times published its story on Thursday.
The Weinstein case comes after a string of high-profile cases of sexual harassment allegations against prominent men, including the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, Epic records boss L.A. Reid, and BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan, among others. All the men have disputed claims against them.
Harvey Weinstein’s movie company said Friday it would investigate the allegations. Meanwhile Weinstein is to proceed on an indefinite leave of absence during the probe, the company said.
The board of the Weinstein Company met Friday and decided to hire a law firm to delve into allegations revealed in an article published in The New York Times, which quoted several women who alleged they were sexually harassed, including actress Ashley Judd. The article said several women received financial settlements over the years.
“We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already-announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Company, commencing today,” the board said in a statement Friday evening. “As Harvey has said, it is important for him to get professional help for the problems he has acknowledged.”
They will report their findings to “a special committee of the board composed exclusively of independent directors,” Friday’s announcement said. “Next steps will depend on Harvey’s therapeutic progress, the outcome of the Board’s independent investigation, and Harvey’s own personal decisions.”
Weinstein is perhaps better known than the average movie studio boss. He was frequently seen on the red carpet with his fashion designer wife, Georgina Chapman.
He carved out a niche as a New York-based supporter of independent movies and is known for backing numerous Oscar winners, including “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Artist,” and “The King’s Speech.” The company also owns a TV division that is behind shows such as Lifetime’’s “Project Runway” and the Netflix series “Marco Polo.”
Harvey Weinstein Tim Boxer / Getty Images file
Several of Weinstein’s friends and associates believe it is unlikely that Weinstein can continue his career in its present form and that the business of independent film production and distribution has morphed with the arrival of Netflix and Amazon. Weinstein was said, by a person familiar with the crisis management plan, to be in his company office on Friday making calls. The TV division has long been for sale for as high as $900 million, according to several reports.
A call to Weinstein’s office was not returned. Harvey’s adviser Lisa Bloom told The Times that “he denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
Politicians connection and reaction
Several politicians said they are returning donations from Weinstein in light of the claims, according to the politicians’ spokespeople and several news reports. They include Democratic Senators Cory Booker, Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Martin Heinrich, and Patrick Leahy.
The Republican National Committee on Thursday issued a statement calling on Democrats to return Weinstein’s donations. “If Democrats and the Democratic National Committee truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer,” the statement said. Weinstein has been a big financial booster of both President Bill Clinton and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic candidate for New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, was slated to host a benefit with Weinstein this month. A person who is involved in the event said: “There will be one less co-host.” Murphy’s press representative declined to comment on Weinstein’s presence.
Weinstein gave a press conference to address the allegations on Friday. He appeared contrite, issuing a statement that said, 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.”
Later in the evening Thursday, Weinstein threatened to sue The New York Times and issued a rambling statement. The statement quoted Jay Z lyrics and then launched into an attack on the National Rifle Association.
“I’m going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention,” that statement said. “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. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her.”