By John Smith
Hollywood’s Miramax mega-producer Harvey Weinstein is finally facing the music.
His terrible reputation for sexual harassment has been an open secret in Tinseltown for decades. Media conspired along with most of Hollywood to keep it secret. But last week the news became too big to ignore, and the New York Times, which had kept mum along with the rest for years, finally figured it had no choice but to run the story.
Now the dam has broken.
On Tuesday, New Yorker magazine published a scathing report — the culmination of an 11-month investigation by Ronan Farrow — which includes accusations of rape from three victims as well as many other new revelations. The Old Gray Lady may have been first, but she was seriously scooped, nonetheless.
The big story, however, is that it was not a story for a long time, and that there was more than a mere conspiracy of silence. And they are still hedging bets. Farrow works for NBC so why did the New Yorker break the story instead of NBC? Big question. During an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Maddow claimed that “NBC says that the story wasn’t publishable [when Farrow submitted it to NBC].”
Farrow responded, “I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that. And it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”
The Times article avoided most of the more salacious details – and it’s difficult to believe the newspaper Times wasn’t aware of them.
In 2004, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe helped kill another Times story about Weinstein. Then-Times reporter Sharon Waxman had traveled to Europe in pursuit of a story on Weinstein. She described how Miramax Italy’s then chief, Fabrizio Lombardo, essentially pimped for Weinstein. She learned he had no experience in film and a big part of his $400,000 salary involved handling Weinstein’s women issues.
Waxman says Damon and Crowe called her directly to dispute the allegations. Weinstein actually visited the Times office to voice his displeasure. The story was changed to simply discuss Weinstein’s employment with Miramax, and buried in the Times media section.
The way some have come to Weinstein’s defense would be funny were it not so pathetic. Weinstein was a big Democrat contributor, so naturally former Democratic National Committee chief, Donna Brazile, tweeted:
LOL! One of the big revelations concerned the way his company basically acted as Weinstein’s prurient procurer, arranging meetings with young women for Weinstein and covering for him afterwards. His lawyers, publicists, and employees closed ranks. You can’t find Brazile’s tweet now; it was deleted.
Hillary Clinton waited a week, surely hoping the thing would blow over before his revenue stream was shut off. When she did finally respond, she said, “I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein…” Shocked and appalled? the hoary cliché we see in newspaper editorials? Could she have sounded more insincere?
And do you believe her? I don’t. How many times can the woman be “shocked and appalled” after spending a lifetime with Bill?
But before these stories broke, jokes had been made about him in the past. For those who think Hollywood just woke up to these revelations, think again. When someone is so notorious his name and behavior make it into widely-watched television shows, there’s probably something to it.
Jane Krakowski’s character on “30 Rock”: “I’m not afraid of anyone in show business. I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions … out of five.”
Comedian Seth MacFarlane at the 2012 Oscar nominations, announcing the five nominees for best supporting actress: “Congratulations! You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein!”
People laughed, but the reality wasn’t funny.
The allegations of rape include excruciatingly detailed testimony from then-aspiring actress, Lucia Evans (formerly Lucia Stoller), who said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him. After meeting Weinstein at a nightclub and some creepy telephone calls, Evans nonetheless was convinced to come in following a call from a Weinstein assistant. The way the assistant put it, it sounded safe.
When she arrived, Weinstein’s staff served as his accomplices, putting her in a room with Weinstein alone. He promised her some movie parts and then forced oral sex upon her. “He’s a big guy. He overpowered me,” she said. “I have nightmares about him to this day.” This week Evans tweeted:
I just hope that my story and the other brave women who came forward can stop him from making other women feel powerless. https://t.co/i3VSmAofuQ
— Lucia (@luciaioevans) October 10, 2017
Listen to the recording of Weinstein with Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez obtained by the New Yorker. Following an initial assault the previous night, Gutierrez had gone to the police. She agreed to wear a wire for this second meeting.
Shortly after this event, negative items began to appear in the press questioning Gutierrez’s credibility. Despite the clear evidence of guilt recorded here, prosecutors decided they didn’t have enough evidence. Gutierrez then made a deal with Weinstein’s attorneys that required she sign a nondisclosure agreement. According to the New Yorker:
[A]fter the D.A.’s office decided not to press charges, Gutierrez, facing Weinstein’s legal team, and in return for a payment, signed a highly restrictive nondisclosure agreement with Weinstein, including an affidavit stating that the acts Weinstein admits to in the recording never happened.
This was apparently a very common arrangement Weinstein’s lawyers made with victims. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its ‘business reputation’ or ‘any employee’s personal reputation.'”
Other women who have come forward to describe Weinstein’s serial harassment include Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Patricia Arquette. (Both the Guardian and Slate have compiled helpful lists of incidents and accusers.)
Heather Graham told her story to Variety magazine. She described how Weinstein implied to her that one had to have sex with him to get into one of his films. When he invited her to come talk about it at his hotel room, she asked a female friend to accompany her. On her way there, the friend called and said she couldn’t make it. Graham called off the meeting. Weinstein countered that Graham’s friend was in the room with him. She still refused. In begging off, her supposed “friend” had apparently alerted Weinstein. Graham refused to go.
“That was the end of that encounter,” she said. “I was never hired for one of his films, and I didn’t speak up about my experience. It wasn’t until Ashley Judd heroically shared her story a few days ago that I felt ashamed. If I had spoken up a decade ago, would I have saved countless women from the same experience I had or worse?”
There is a whole lot more. I could go on but you get the picture.
Weinstein released a letter of apology … sort of, which was reproduced in the New York Times article. He decided he needed to “channel” his anger (about what? Getting caught?). His solution was to take on the National Rifle Action and President Trump:
I’m going to need to channel my 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 making a movie about our president, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party…
Weinstein is still in denial. Despite his rather baffling letter, Weinstein’s spokesmistress, Sallie Hofmeister, was quoted in the New Yorker article saying this:
Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.
A second chance? Maybe a 300th or a 3,000th chance would be better way of putting it.
Weinstein’s setup was like a junta, which under his orders lured vulnerable women into his clutches, then destroyed those who resisted, which sounded remarkably like the arrangement Bill and Hillary had for years. All to serve his perverted compulsions. But this story is not an indictment of Weinstein so much as it is an indictment of the filthy, degenerate, corrupt cesspool Hollywood has become. Weinstein is obviously a sick man who needs help. Hollywood’s culture instead allowed him to prey on women for over 30 years.
Being identified as a conservative in Hollywood rings a death knell for your career. Ask award-winning actor and producer, James Woods, who just announced he is retiring. He says Hollywood has blacklisted him because of his conservative views. But putting up with a serial sexual predator for decades is A-okay with Hollywood as long as the checks keep rolling in. Those few with the heart to speak out have learned the hard way that conservatives are not the only ones unwelcome in Hollywood.