(IMAGE: Harvey Weinstein in 2010 by DAVID SHANKBONE/WikiCommons)
[UPDATED – OCT. 10 to reflect Ronan Farrow’s explosive New Yorker investigative piece, which contains new allegations, including that Harvey Weinstein raped actress/director Asia Argento and two others.]
The shocking downfall of indie movie mogul and accused serial sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein is one of the biggest entertainment news stories ever. It’s also a story with far wider ramifications for American culture, American business practices, and for American women in the workplace.
In the aftermath of the New York Times’ bombshell article, new information has been published with chaotic speed, with additional revelations arriving almost hourly.
Here’s a curated selection of articles encompassing some of the most important, topical and illuminating developments.
The original New York Times expose hits like an atomic bomb at mid-day October 5.
The reporting by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey includes an on the record interview with actress Ashley Judd describing how movie mogul Harvey Weinstein allegedly lured her to a hotel room for a “business meeting” in 1997. According to Judd, Weinstein greeted her in a bathrobe and repeatedly made obscene and lecherous proposals, including that he massage her and that she watch him shower.
(Times reporter Jodi Kantor later gives a detailed description of the article’s genesis and methodology to podcaster Isaac Chotiner of Slate).
FLASHBACK: Ashley Judd leveled similar charges in Variety two years earlier, without giving her reputed harasser a name. The 2015 article by Ramin Setoodah was called Ashley Judd Reveals Sexual Harassment by Studio Mogul, and it makes for chilling reading, especially in the ways Judd describes her youthful guilt and confusion at the time of the alleged incident.
Other allegations in the Times piece include Weinstein’s having paid out legal settlements to at least eight women accusing him of harassment, and the publication of passages from an internal Weinstein Company document recounting in detail the harassment allegations of a former female Weinstein Company employee.
Actress Rose McGowan is also named in the Times piece.
According to the Times, McGowan reached a $100,000 financial settlement with Weinstein over an incident at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. Her breakthrough movie SCREAM had been released by Miramax’s Dimension Films division only weeks before the alleged incident occurred.
The Times claims McGowan signed a non-disclosure agreement as part of her settlement and was therefore unavailable for comment.
But as the Weinstein harassment story expands, speculation about McGowan’s experience with Weinstein runs rampant, feuled by several tweets McGowan posted in 2016 in response to the victim’s rights/anti-rape hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport.
“A (female) criminal attorney said because I’d done a sex scene in a film I would never win against the studio head,” McGowan wrote. “They shamed me while adulating my rapist.” (Vanity Fair has published one of the fuller accounts of McGowan’s 2016 tweets, their original impact, and their current importance).
As the scandal develops, McGowan’s twitterfeed emerges as a powerful and ferocious forum focused on calling out the industry at large for its perceived silence about abuse.
FLASHBACK: The New York Times article was not the first time Weinstein’s alleged abuses made headlines. In 2015, an Italian model reported Weinstein to the NYPD for groping her during a “business meeting.” Ambra Battilana, Model Accusing Harvey Weinstein of Groping Her, Was ‘Very Shaken’ After Assualt is the New York Daily News’ contemporaneous article about Battilina’s allegations.
According to subsequent reports, a sting was mounted. Published accounts from 2015 state Battilana made a call to Weinstein which was recorded by the NYPD sex crimes unit. It has since been reported that Weinstein did not refute Battilana’s groping allegations during this conversation.
A new report published in the Daily Beast claims Weinstein was in fact recorded live by NYPD during an arranged follow-up meeting with Battilana, and characterizes his recorded behavior as apologizing to Battilana before immediately asking her up to his room. Battilana is described as having initially agreed owing to an understanding the police would intervene if Weinstein attacked her, then panicking and departing. “She got scared,” an NYPD police commander familiar with the case is quoted as saying.
The NYPD decided not to charge Weinstein. According to the New York Times, Battilana settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, and like McGowan is bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
Before settling, Battilana was subjected to a series of exploitative articles in the tabloid press, in which her past, rather than Weinstein’s, was subjected to skeptical scrutiny. She was splashed across the cover of the New York Post as the “Grope Beauty,” and complications from her personal life were played up in the Post and elsewhere.
An anonymous insider at NYPD assured the Post’s Page Six her story, since documented by the emergence of “sting” recordings, was “BS” and said “It’s not going anywhere.” An anonymous quote unquote “movie insider” was widely quoted as saying, “We believe this is a blackmail attempt, and he [Harvey] did nothing wrong.”
This bizarre and victim-shaming process, filled with innuendo and multiple details proven false by the avalanche of recent reporting, is dissected in detail by W Magazine’s Kyle Muzenreider in How Tabloids Dragged Ambra Gutierrez Through the Mud After She Accused Harvey Weinstein of Groping Her.
FLASHBACK: In the wake of Battilana’s 2015 charges, Gawker solicited information about Harvey Weinstein’s “despicable open secret.”
Gawker’s 2015 article elaborately demonstrates an amazingly widespread awareness among journalists and also within the film industry of multiple rumors concerning Weinstein and “casting couch” abuses of power.
The piece (which appears not to have resulted in additional reporting) also illustrates how various press outlets tried to break the story without success going back many years.
Harvey Weinstein is offered the right of response by the New York Times.
In Weinstein’s rambling statement, which ran as an appendix to the original Times piece, Weinstein admits he has a problem, blames it on coming of age in a different business culture, and promises to both get help and to take a leave of absence from the Weinstein Company. He ends with a bizarre nonsequiter about how he intends to keep fighting the good fight against Donald Trump and the NRA.
Weinstein’s apologia is brilliantly dismantled by The Washington Post’s resident satirist Alexandra Petri, whose takedown is readable here.
Weinstein’s rapid response to the Times article also includes a same day interview in the New York Post where he affirms his intention to sue the Times over its reporting.
The Post frames Weinstein’s attitude toward his alleged victims as conciliatory, even as it publishes a quote from Weinstein which reads for some as an attempt to undermine Ashley Judd’s credibility as a witness against him. “I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now,” Weinstein tells the Post. “I read her book [her memoir ‘All That Is Bitter and Sweet’], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her.”
By the evening of the 5th, the Weinstein Company is reportedly in chaos, with board resignations in the works and tempestuous meetings taking place behind closed doors to decide Harvey’s fate.
On Friday morning, New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg publishes Harvey Weinstein’s Media Enablers, an editorial attacking widespread media complicity in the “worst kept secret” in Hollywood.
In response, The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman writes a stinging account of her failed attempt to “break” the Harvey Weinstein story at the New York Times in 2004.
Waxman had uncovered a possible sexual procurement scandal involving Fabrizio Lombardo, who ran the Italian arm of Miramax Films in the early 2000s. “I had people on the record telling me Lombardo knew nothing about film,” Waxman writes, “and others citing evenings he organized with Russian escorts.”
In her piece Waxman also claims to have unearthed evidence of a wider Weinstein sex scandal involving a “pay off,” thirteen years before the New York Times published its current allegations.
According to Waxman, her 2004 research got spiked and her work was diluted after Weinstein became aware of her efforts and mounted a pre-publication pressure campaign within the Times against her story.
FLASHBACK: The toothless 2004 article the New York Times ran over Waxman’s byline contained none of Waxman’s more controversial reporting. It focused instead on a wage dispute between Miramax and Lombardo.
Meanwhile, Weinstein’s media defense strategy is being met with widespread derision, including within the Weinstein Company itself. The New York Times publishes excerpts from internal Weinstein Company emails chastising Weinstein’s legal advisor, feminist attorney Lisa Bloom, for promising the board a media turnaround, which was to include “more and different reporting” and the publication of photos of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers “in very friendly poses with Harvey after his alleged misconduct.”
The full text of Bloom’s email is later published by the Huffington Post, alongside a denial from Bloom that she or Weinstein were implicated as sources in any of the promised journalistic tactics. HuffPo adds it could find no articles of the type Bloom promised, and which the Weinstein board deplored. But we did, albeit one contexted in a way Weinstein’s defense team may not have liked.
On Friday evening, approximately 30 hours after the Times’ report went live online, Harvey Weinstein is suspended from his position as co-chair of the Weinstein Company by four members of its all-male Board of Directors, who also announce the initiation of an independent investigation into his behavior. Three other board members resign, with a fourth (who is rumored to be on the verge of resigning) abstaining from signing the formal company announcement.
Additional allegations continue to surface. Especially damaging is an explicit and vividly detailed on the record account in the Huffington Post from Lauren Sivan, a longtime TV journalist. Sivan claims Weinstein trapped her in an abandoned area of a restaurant he owned during a private party, and then masturbated in front of her when she refused his advances.
Elizabeth Karlsen, producer of THE CRYING GAME at Miramax and CAROL for the Weinstein Company, also goes public with an allegation of abuse dating back almost 30 years.
As revelations cascade, Weinstein sends a private email to several studio heads and power players pleading with them to endorse him before his own board, which he believes is about to fire him.
Hollywood Reporter CEO Janine Min later breaks this story by tweeting out a copy of the letter.
The execs allegedly contacted include Weinstein’s old Disney boss (and former Dreamworks CEO) Jeffrey Katzenberg; Ron Meyer of NBC Universal; and Discovery CEO David Zaslov. Katzenberg later published his side of the correspondence.
“I am desperate for your help,” Weinstein’s email says in part. “No f__king chance,” reads a reported reply.
On Sunday October 8, three days after the original New York Times article was first published, Harvey Weinstein is fired from the company that bears his name.
But which may not wear it for long.
According to subsequent reporting, the Weinstein Company is actively seeking a namechange and intends to scrub Harvey Weinstein’s credit off many projects in the pipeline at the time of his firing. Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s brother, took control of the company and later denied having any awareness of the depths of Harvey’s abusive behavior toward women in an emotional interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
But still more harrowing allegations are waiting.
On October 10, the New Yorker publishes an exhaustive and much speculated about investigative piece by Ronan Farrow containing explosive new allegations and expanded evidence related to old ones. The story was originally developed but killed at NBC, causing a side contoversy over the network’s history of killing sex abuse pieces involving powerful men.
In the piece, Farrow interviews a distraught actress/director Asia Argento, who charges Weinstein with raping her in 1997 by forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
Farrow also publishes audio recorded during the NYPD’s Ambra Battalina sting operation of a tense exchange during which Weinstein can be heard apologizing for groping Battalina and telling her “I’m used to that” while repeatedly pressing her to join him in his hotel room.
“Three women – among them Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans — told me that Weinstein raped them,” Farrow writes, “allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault … Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.”
And so the other shoe continues to drop.