Harvey Weinstein to take leave from company amid sexual harassment report

Harvey Weinstein fired after sexual harassment allegations


Los Angeles — Harvey Weinstein, the larger-than-life Hollywood executive and Oscar-winner, is taking a leave of absence from his own company after an explosive expose revealing decades of sexual harassment against women, from employees to actress Ashley Judd, was published in The New York Times Thursday.

The article includes first person accounts of Weinstein's alleged conduct, including from Judd, who recounts an incident from two decades ago in which she said she was asked to meet Weinstein in his hotel room. Weinstein greeted her wearing a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or if she would watch him shower, the paper reported.

"Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it's simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly," Judd told the Times.

At least eight women

Two unnamed company officials tell the Times that at least eight women have received settlements from Weinstein over the years, including actress Rose McGowan, who allegedly had an incident with him in 1997 when she was 23.

Other stories include similar accounts of Weinstein coercing young women into giving him massages, while naked, or watching him shower, and promising career advancement in return. These incidents were all said to have happened in hotel rooms.

Weinstein's attorney Charles J. Harder said in a statement that the story is "saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein."

"We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish," Harder said. He did not respond to questions about what specific allegations Weinstein was contesting.

Harder represented Hulk Hogan in his successful defamation suit against the now-defunct website Gawker.

"We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting," said a New York Times spokesperson in a statement. "Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full."

Weinstein also gave an interview to The New York Post on Thursday afternoon echoing Harder's statements and calling the Times' reporting "reckless." He accused the paper of having a "vendetta" against him.

Weinstein did not specify which allegations he thought false.

Requests for comment from The Weinstein Co. and Judd were not immediately returned.

'A powerful perch in Hollywood'

Weinstein, 65, had a powerful perch in Hollywood for three decades, and was known for producing films like Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love, for which he won an Oscar. He has also launched the careers of numerous actresses and directors and executed extremely successful Oscar campaigns with his company Miramax, which he ran with his brother Bob Weinstein. He is also an executive producer of the hit reality series Project Runway.

In 2005, the Weinstein brothers launched a new production company, The Weinstein Co. Known for his angry outbursts, his often aggressive tactics were chronicled in the Peter Biskind book Down and Dirty Pictures.

He also executive produced five best picture winners, including The English Patient, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The King's Speech, and The Artist, and garnered many nominations for his films and actors.

"I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it," Weinstein said in a statement. "Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go."

His statement did not address any specific incidents.

Weinstein has been married to designer Georgina Chapman since 2007, they have two children together. He has three children from his previous marriage.

In Weinstein's lengthy statement, in which he quotes a Jay-Z lyric about being a better man for his children, he references coming of age in the 1960s and '70s when, "all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different."

"I want a second chance in the community but I know I've got work to do to earn it," he wrote.

Read the full statement here.

Trending on Twitter

Weinstein quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. Lena Dunham wrote that the women, "who chose to speak about their experience of harassment by Harvey Weinstein deserve our awe. It's not fun or easy. It's brave."

McGowan, who has spoken out in the past about rape and harassment issues, also tweeted Thursday. She did not name anyone, but said that "anyone who does business with (blank space) is complicit."

"Women fight on. And to the men out there, stand up. We need you as allies," she wrote.




The Weinstein Company has in recent years suffered from a string of executive exits, mounting lawsuits and increasingly hectic distribution decisions.

In 2016, the company didn't receive a best-picture nomination for the first time since 2008. Weinstein returned to the category with Lion at this year's Oscars, but his preeminence as an Academy Awards heavyweight has undeniably waned.

Steven Spielberg said he had a lot of opinions about the sexual harassment allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, but he did not feel the red carpet was the right place to discuss them. The famed director attended Thursday's premiere of the HBO documentary Spielberg at the New York Film Festival.





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