Film producer Harvey Weinstein ousted from Weinstein Co.
NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein, the sharp-elbowed movie producer whose combative reign in Hollywood made him an Academy Awards regular, was fired from The Weinstein Company on Sunday following an expose that detailed decades of sexual harassment allegations made against Weinstein by actresses and employees.
In a statement, the company’s board of directors announced his firing Sunday night, capping the swift downfall of one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers and expelling him from the company he co-created.
“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company — Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar — have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” the company’s board said in a statement on Sunday night.
Weinstein had previously taken an indefinite leave of absence following the revelation of at least eight allegations of sexual harassment uncovered in an expose Thursday by The New York Times. The board on Friday endorsed that decision and announced an investigation into the allegations, saying it would determine the co-chairman’s future with the company.
But the Weinstein Co. board, which includes Weinstein’s brother, went further on Sunday, firing the executive who has always been its primary operator, public face and studio chief. Under his leadership, the Weinstein Co. has been a dominant force at the Oscars, including the rare feat of winning back-to-back best picture Academy Awards with “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” In recent years, however, Weinstein’s status has diminished because of money shortages, disappointing box-office returns and executive departures.
An attorney for Weinstein didn’t immediately return messages Sunday.
A spokesperson for The Weinstein Co. declined to provide further details on Weinstein’s firing. Messages left for attorney John Keirnan of the firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, who had been appointed to lead an investigation, weren’t immediately returned Sunday.
Weinstein on Thursday issued a lengthy statement that acknowledged causing “a lot of pain.” He also asked for “a second chance.” But Weinstein and his lawyers also criticized The New York Times’ report in statements and interviews, and vowed an aggressive response. The New York Times said it was “confident in the accuracy of our reporting.”
The New York Times article chronicled sexual harassment settlements Weinstein made with film star Ashley Judd and former employees at both The Weinstein Co. and Weinstein’s former company, Miramax. Weinstein made his name with Miramax, the company he founded with his brother Bob in 1979. They sold it to Disney in 1993 for $60 million. The company was a fixture of the 1990s independent film movement, launching the careers of filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Steven Soderbergh, and winning best picture with “Shakespeare in Love” and “The English Patient.”
The allegations triggered cascading chaos at the Weinstein Co. Numerous members of its all-male board have stepped down since Thursday. The prominent attorney Lisa Bloom, daughter of well-known Los Angeles women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, on Saturday withdrew from representing Weinstein, as did another adviser, Lanny Davis.
Pressure to act continued to mount on the board as more developments followed. Congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, donated to charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from Weinstein.
TV anchor Lauren Sivan on Friday detailed an alleged 2007 encounter with Weinstein in a HuffPost report. Sivan, then working at a New York cable channel, Long Island 12, alleged that Weinstein cornered her in the hallway of a Manhattan restaurant closed to the public and masturbated in front of her.
Sivan said she had rejected an attempt by Weinstein to kiss her. “Well, can you just stand there and shut up,” she claims he responded.
Bob Weinstein and David Glasser, chief operating officer, are now running The Weinstein Co. But it remains to be seen not only if the company can continue without its prominent producer but also whether it can weather questions of culpability in its former co-chairman’s behavior. In reaction to Thursday’s report, many in Hollywood called Weinstein’s behavior “an open secret.” The settlement funds paid out also may have come from The Weinstein Co.
The company has attempted to continue with business as usual, including a promotional event Sunday night for its 2017 awards hopeful, the indie hit thriller “Wind River.” While it has a handful of films scheduled for release in the coming months, much of the company’s business has recently angled toward television, producing shows like “Project Runway”
Many in the movie industry vented their disgust with the allegations against Weinstein in recent days, including Lena Dunham and Brie Larson. For them, the allegations against Weinstein not only compare to those against Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes, but reflect Hollywood’s deep-rooted gender inequality. Imbalances in pay between actors and actresses and the continued paucity of women directors behind the camera for the biggest productions have been ongoing issues in Hollywood.
Still most of the A-listers that Weinstein led to Academy Awards nominations have been largely silent since Thursday’s report. On Sunday night, others celebrated Weinstein’s exit.
“If even 1/10th of the stories about Harvey Weinstein are true (and I believe they are), then good riddance,” said “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, who added an expletive. “The enabling needs to end.”