Harvey Weinstein: Hollywood kingmaker with feet of clay

By AFP/Frankie Taggart   October 14, 2017 | 05:31 pm PT
Weinstein's allegedly inappropriate behavior goes back nearly three decades.

Meryl Streep famously called him "God," but Harvey Weinstein fell emphatically to Earth Saturday as he was booted out of the Academy amid a torrent of accusations of harassment, sexual assault and rape.

The Oscar-winning movie mogul, one of Hollywood's most influential powerbrokers who was able to make or break careers, was expelled by an overwhelming majority in an emergency vote of the Oscar-awarding organization's 54-member board of governors.

An avalanche of claims have surfaced since the publication last week of an explosive New York Times report alleging a history of abusive behavior by Weinstein dating back decades.

On Thursday, American actress Rose McGowan became the fourth woman to accuse the 65-year-old movie mogul of raping her.

Weinstein, who has also been sacked from his own company, issued a bizarre statement as the scandal broke apologizing for his actions without addressing any specific allegations, misquoting the rapper Jay Z, and appearing in part to justify his behavior.

"I came of age in the '60s and '70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then," said Weinstein, a prominent Democratic Party donor whose personal wealth is estimated at around $150 million.

But the tycoon has won little sympathy from even his closest circle of confidants, with the Weinstein name now toxic in Hollywood.

English fashion designer Georgina Chapman, the mother of two of his five children, has announced she intends to seek a divorce.

Meanwhile Weinstein's brother and business partner Bob, 62, told The Hollywood Reporter in an emotional interview published Saturday that he was unaware the extent of his "sick and depraved" behavior.

"For me, I thought he was literally just going out there cheating in a pervasive way," the younger Weinstein is quoted as saying.

"It wasn't like he even had a mistress. It was one after another and that I was aware of. But as far as being in a room and hearing the description in The New York Times? No way."

According to the Times, Weinstein's allegedly inappropriate behavior goes back nearly three decades and he has reached private settlements with at least eight women.

Since the outbreak of the scandal, more than two dozen actresses including Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Lea Seydoux have come forward saying they were sexually harassed by the producer.

His alleged victims have reported a range of misconduct, including that Weinstein forced them to massage him or watch him naked and promised to help advance their careers in exchange for sexual favors.

Weinstein denies many of the charges, according to his legal team.

Fallen legend 

The movie magnate's scandal looks certain to destroy his status as something of a legend in Hollywood, earned over decades of producing movies loved by the public and critics alike.

Before the Weinstein Company, he and Bob, who is three years his junior, co-founded Miramax Films -- named after his mother Miriam and father Max -- in 1979.

Miramax was sold to Disney in 1993 and the Weinstein brothers left the company in 2005 to start their own movie studio.

The numerous films he has steered to Academy Awards glory include "The Artist," "The King's Speech," "The Iron Lady" -- which won best actress Oscar for Streep as former British premier Margaret Thatcher -- as well as "My Week with Marilyn" about screen idol Marilyn Monroe.

Miramax hits include 1998's "Shakespeare in Love," for which Weinstein shared a best picture Oscar.

Over his three-decade career he has produced more than 300 projects, including Cannes-winning "Pulp Fiction" (1994), "Pret a Porter" in 1994, "The English Patient" (1996), and "Gangs of New York" in 2002.

The burly executive is famous for his ability to orchestrate Oscars campaigns and reputedly works his films' cast and crew hard.

'The Punisher' 

Streep -- who is famously protective of her family life, shunning the Hollywood publicity machine -- was apparently made to earn every penny of her fee on the promotion circuit for "The Iron Lady."

At the 2012 Golden Globes, she followed the advice of the host, British comic Ricky Gervais, who joked that winners should limit their acceptance speeches to thanking their agents and God.

"I just want to thank my agent and God -- Harvey Weinstein," retorted Streep, prompting laughter and raised eyebrows from the audience.

"The punisher. Old Testament, I guess," added the actress.

Streep, 68, broke her silence on the controversy on Monday to say she was "appalled" by the "disgraceful" news and had no idea about the allegations.

Fellow Oscar winner Judi Dench, who has credited much of her success to Weinstein and famously revealed she had a fake tattoo of his initials applied to her buttocks, said in a statement to Newsweek she was "horrified" and also denied any knowledge of the accusations.

As the firestorm of controversy threatening to bury the producer's career has continued to escalate, numerous entertainment industry figures have spoken out to condemn Weinstein.

They include actors Seth Rogan, Lena Dunham and Patricia Arquette, director James Gunn, fellow producer Judd Apatow and Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" news program.

go to top