Last night, Variety reported that producer and distributor Harvey Weinstein, who stood as one of the titans of the indie film world for close to a decade, has hired a team of high-profile lawyers in preparation for the publications of two stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker that are said to detail accusations of sexual harassment and workplace impropriety against him.
Weinstein has retained the services of some major names in California law, including Lisa Bloom, who represented Kathy Griffin and Blac Chyna in their recent cases, and whose book on the Trayvon Martin case has been optioned by Weinstein for a TV miniseries. When called for comment by Variety, Weinstein responded, ‘I’ve not been aware of this. I don’t know what you’re talking about, honestly.’ Later, he joked, ‘The story sounds so good I want to buy the movie rights.’ This comment was especially notable given a vague tweet sent by actress and director Rose McGowan, with a reply from Asia Argento. McGowan has openly talked about her experiences with sexual assault in the industry.
I own the movie rights.— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) October 5, 2017
According to Variety, major names working on the story at the two publications include MSNBC host Ronan Farrow and Megan Twohey, ‘who wrote a piece about Weinstein’s questionable charitable work for amfAR, a charity involved with AIDS research.’ The stories could reach us as early as next week.
Obviously, there’s only so much we can say in a news story like this so we want to keep it to what we know, but I will say this: There have been extensive and numerous rumours about Weinstein’s conduct for decades, and he’s not the only powerful man in Hollywood surrounded by such whispers. Recently, we’ve been experiencing something of an exodus in the world of film journalism, following the Alamo Drafthouse case and surrounding incidents involving Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles. We’re impatient for change, and it’s no longer enough just to be having the conversation. If women are finally ready to be taken seriously when they talk about their experiences of being abused or taken advantage of by powerful men, then it couldn’t have happened a moment sooner.
What I don’t want to hear regarding this case are jokes about the casting couch or slut-shaming remarks about actresses willing to do anything to get famous. I don’t want to hear shit about how women should know better or how they’re talentless hacks who got to the top through lesser means. This is a story about alleged abuse and alleged manipulation of power. Don’t forget that.
UPDATE: The New York Times piece went live tonight. It alleges that Weinstein settled a number of cases of sexual harassment accusations levelled against him. One of the people speaking out against him is actress Ashley Judd. You can read the full piece here.