Talking Points

Standing up to Harvey Weinstein

plane-over-hwd-sign.jpgSpotted over Hollywood on Tuesday.

Remarkable couple of days that should be remembered for a long time in Hollywood and beyond. New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey followed up last week's revelations on Harvey Weinstein's sexual predation of women under his control with a new piece that got prominent actresses and other victims on the record, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. At the New Yorker, Ronan Farrow put more than a dozen of Weinstein's victims on the record and included audio tape of a 2015 sting that the NYPD ran to catch Weinstein in the act. It worked — but the New York DA declined to prosecute.

By the end of Tuesday, Weinstein's wife Georgina Chapman said she was leaving the once-feared movie producer, USC announced it was declining Weinstein's offer of $5 million to fund a foundation for female directors, brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein were estranged, and the future of the Weinstein Co. itself was in doubt.

"I know Paltrow/Jolie will get attention," Kantor tweeted. "But pls read accounts of the lesser-known women. You will not forget them."

1. Heroes of the story
Brian Stelter of CNN Money led his Tuesday night media newsletter with a simple but very worthy tribute.

Ashley Judd. Rose McGowan. Asia Argento. Lauren Sivan. Rosanna Arquette. Jessica Barth. Emma de Caunes. Dawn Dunning. Lucia Evans. Louisette Geiss. Judith Godreche. Katherine Kendall. Laura Madden. Emily Nestor. Gwyneth Paltrow. Angelina Jolie. Mira Sorvino.

These are some of the women who spoke on the record to either the NYT or Farrow about the sexual abuse they endured from Harvey Weinstein through the years. The accounts of hotel room massages and indecent exposures, gropings, unwanted sex acts, imperiled careers, crushed dreams and in some cases lasting damage are heartbreaking. Look at the list and think about the bodies of work of some of these women — what they have given us and how they have been done wrong.

"These are just some of the women who have courageously spoken out about encounters with Harvey Weinstein," Stelter wrote. "They deserve a tremendous amount of credit for speaking out."

nyt-women-panel.jpgNow realize it's probable that these are not the only victims of Hollywood's most powerful and winked-about creep — and that Weinstein is not the only creep who is taking advantage of women in show business.

Paltrow told the NYT she was 22 years old when Weinstein cast her in "Emma" and summoned her to his hotel suite in Beverly Hills. It was just the two of them, and Paltrow said that Weinstein placed his hands on her and kept suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages. "I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified," Paltrow told the NYT. She left and told a few people, including her boyfriend, Brad Pitt, who later confronted Weinstein and told him to keep his hands off Paltrow. Weinstein in turn chewed out Paltrow for telling Pitt about their encounter.

Jolie told the New York Times that Harvey Weinstein also made his unwanted advances on her in a hotel room. It was the late 1990's. "I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did," Jolie said. "This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable."

Paltrow, whose family roots in Hollywood run much deeper than Harvey Weinstein's, said "we're at a point in time when women need to send a clear message that this is over. This way of treating women ends now."

2. Asia Argento
The Italian actress and director is an unforgettable part of Ronan Farrow's story in the New Yorker, published Tuesday.
Since the establishment of the first studios a century ago, there have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as Harvey Weinstein. As the co-founder of the production-and-distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company, he helped to reinvent the model for independent films, with movies such as “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “The English Patient,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Crying Game,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech.” Beyond Hollywood, he has exercised his influence as a prolific fund-raiser for Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Weinstein combined a keen eye for promising scripts, directors, and actors with a bullying, even threatening, style of doing business, inspiring both fear and gratitude. His movies have earned more than three hundred Oscar nominations, and, at the annual awards ceremonies, he has been thanked more than almost anyone else in movie history, just after Steven Spielberg and right before God.

For more than twenty years, Weinstein has also been trailed by rumors of sexual harassment and assault. This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence. Too few people were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories. Asia Argento, an Italian film actress and director, told me that she did not speak out until now—Weinstein, she told me, forcibly performed oral sex on her—because she feared that Weinstein would “crush” her. “I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” Argento said. “That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old; some of them are older—has never come out.”

Argento's first encounter with Weinstein was in 1997, when she was 21 and a rising star in Italy. She says a male producer took her to Weinstein's room at Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc near Cannes and left them alone. Weinstein used the massage come on, ignored her repeated "nos" and forced himself on Argento orally. She says the rape still affects her today, but "what complicates the story," Farrow writes, is that Argento later became close to Weinstein for a few years and had sex with him several times. "I didn’t want to anger him," she explains.

She describes ways that her first encounter with Weinstein haunts her today. In 2000, she made a film, "Scarlet Diva," that has a creepy character who is a heavyset producer who tries to get her (she's the star) to give him a hotel room massage and forces sex on her.

Argento and her boyfriend, the chef and food personality Anthony Bourdain, have been tweeting about Weinstein since the revelations began last week. Some examples:

3. Naked at Cannes
In 2010, it was French actress Emma de Caunes' turn to be lured into being alone with Weinstein in his hotel room. The meeting was ostensibly for business purposes. She didn't think anything when he stepped into the bathroom while she took a phone call.

"I heard the shower go on in the bathroom,” she said. “I was, like, What the fuck, is he taking a shower?” Weinstein came out, naked and with an erection. “What are you doing?” she asked. Weinstein demanded that she lie on the bed and told her that many other women had done so before her.

“I was very petrified,” de Caunes said. “But I didn’t want to show him that I was petrified, because I could feel that the more I was freaking out, the more he was excited.” She added, “It was like a hunter with a wild animal. The fear turns him on.” De Caunes told Weinstein that she was leaving, and he panicked. “We haven’t done anything!” she remembered him saying. “It’s like being in a Walt Disney movie!”

“I looked at him and I said—it took all my courage—but I said, ‘I’ve always hated Walt Disney movies.’ And then I left. I slammed the door.” She was shaking on the stairs down to the lobby. A director she was working with on the TV show confirmed that she arrived at the studio distraught and that she recounted what had happened. Weinstein called relentlessly over the next few hours, offering de Caunes gifts and repeating that nothing had happened....

Over the years, she said, she’s heard similar accounts from friends. “I know that everybody—I mean everybody—in Hollywood knows that it’s happening,” de Caunes said. “He’s not even really hiding. I mean, the way he does it, so many people are involved and see what’s happening. But everyone’s too scared to say anything.”

4. They knew at the Weinstein Company. They knew.
One of the responses I keep hearing is that somebody has to go jail over this system of abuse — and not just Harvey Weinstein, but his enablers. Farrow writes:
Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace. They and others describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models. All sixteen said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company. Messages sent by Irwin Reiter, a senior company executive, to Emily Nestor, one of the women who alleged that she was harassed at the company, described the “mistreatment of women” as a serial problem that the Weinstein Company was struggling with in recent years. Other employees described what was, in essence, a culture of complicity at Weinstein’s places of business, with numerous people throughout the companies fully aware of his behavior but either abetting it or looking the other way. Some employees said that they were enlisted in subterfuge to make the victims feel safe. A female executive with the company described how Weinstein assistants and others served as a “honeypot”—they would initially join a meeting, but then Weinstein would dismiss them, leaving him alone with the woman.

This statement on Tuesday from the company's remaining board members and executives.

The Weinstein Company's Board of Representatives -- Bob Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar -- are shocked and dismayed by the recently emerged allegations of extreme sexual misconduct and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein. These alleged actions are antithetical to human decency. These allegations come as an utter surprise to the Board. Any suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false. We are committed to assisting with our full energies in all criminal or other investigations of these alleged acts, while pursuing justice for the victims and a full and independent investigation of our own.

5. Who else knew?
Knowledge of Weinstein's sexual pressures on actresses was so pervasive in Hollywood that at the 2013 Oscar nominations announcement, Seth MacFarlane read off the nominees for best supporting actress and joked, "Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” Those in the room laughed.

Journalists including Kim Masters of the Hollywood Reporter and Sharon Waxman of The Wrap said they had been trying for years to get enough victims on the record to be able to publish stories about the real Harvey Weinstein. One of his tactics was to force actresses who received legal settlements to sign rigid nondisclosure agreements, making it very difficult for them to talk to reporters. Masters had told Weinstein that she was going to get him, and he laughed her off. Farrow began work on his story for NBC before hitting a wall there and taking it to the New Yorker.

Waxman alleged in the past few days that she had a story ready to go when she worked as a reporter for the New York Times more than a decade ago, but that the paper didn't have the fortitude to run it. That drew a response from her former editors at the NYT, who have a different memory of Waxman's work and say if she had the goods on Weinstein then, she always could have run it at the Wrap when she started that site.

The larger point being that journalists were on Weinstein's trail and trying to get the story, and that means a lot of people in Hollywood knew what the reporters were trying to pin down. Agents, close friends and family certainly knew, because the young, terrified victims confided in them. Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told Farrow "they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them. Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared that they might be similarly targeted."

6. Farrow on 'Nightline'
Farrow was interviewed Tuesday night on ABC's "Nightline" and said "It was complicated for each woman in this story."
Sometimes it took months and months for them to decide to go on the record. These were not women banging down the doors of media companies. These were brave women, struggling with what to do. But it was a process, I think, for each of them. Each of them talked about their own fears of what they believed he [Weinstein] might do to them, how they believed people around them would react, how they believed it would affect their careers, and so that was a lot to process for every woman in this story. Many of them had profound feelings of guilt about not speaking out sooner.

7. Community support

8. 'You have done terrible things to a number of women'
Over the weekend, Weinstein sent a desperation email around Hollywood looking for sympathy and support for him to remain on the job. It was crass and sad at the same time. This was Jeffrey Katzenberg's response, per Janice Min and THR.

Also this from former studio head Michael Eisner.

9. Sallie Hofmeister
After Weinstein's New York-based crisis PR adviser quit his team over the weekend, along with lawyer Lisa Bloom, a new spokesperson appeared in both the NYT and New Yorker stories: Sallie Hofmeister. That perked up a lot of journalists' ears. She was a former NYT reporter and longtime Los Angeles Times business reporter and senior editor who in 2013 joined Michael Sitrick's crisis PR firm in LA.

Her response on behalf of Weinstein in the New Yorker piece:

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.”

10. Conservative hay
Some on the political right are delighting in the takedown of Harvey Weinstein. Sean Hannity and Kellyanne Conway have been prominent critics. One, it feeds the right's narrative about Hollywood as a place of bad people with the wrong stuff. Two, Weinstein was a big financial backer of Democrats, including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. (Both have made statements now condemning Weinstein.) Three, they hope it dilutes people's memories of the recent sexual harassment scandals at Fox News and around Hannity's patron Roger Ailes and the former Fox ratings star Bill O'Reilly.

But they can't sit too high on that horse because — Donald Trump. Remember, Trump notoriously bragged on tape about using his celebrity status to sexually harass women. So far, Trump is silent on Twitter about Weinstein. Let's see if he sits this one out completely. Must be killing him not to jump in.

11. Tuesday over Hollywood

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