UPDATE: On Oct. 13, Bob Weinstein released a statement, obtained by E! News, in response to reports speculating about the future of TWC: "Our banks, partners and shareholders are fully supportive of our company and it is untrue that the company or board is exploring a sale or shutdown of the company. Polaroid is moving forward as planned with a release date of November 22 followed by Paddington 2 on January 12. The first Paddington grossed over $75 million and we expect even greater success for Paddington 2. Test screening scores are through the roof. War With Grandpa starring Robert De Niro is scheduled for February 23, 2018.
"Business is continuing as usual as the company moves ahead."
In a week's time, Harvey Weinstein's already tenuous grasp on his place in the Hollywood hierarchy has unraveled completely.
He's been fired from his own namesake company, which is reportedly planning on changing its name in an attempt at distancing itself from its tarnished co-founder. His wife, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, is leaving him. And now New York police and reportedly London's Scotland Yard are investigating the disgraced mogul.
The tentacles of this grotesquerie—which have already reached beyond Hollywood and into the worlds of politics and deep-pocketed philanthropy that Weinstein also circulated in—continue to suck in one bold-faced name after another. But even within the first few moments after the New York Times' investigative report on decades' worth of accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment was published last Thursday, the common denominator had revealed itself: Harvey Weinstein's alleged pattern of mistreating women was what you call an "open secret," a tacitly acknowledged cost of doing business with one of the most powerful figures in show business.
However often that cost included looking the other way or being victimized one's self is part of the story still unfolding, seemingly by the minute, but there's no question–considering Weinstein has admitted to engaging in "bad behavior" and acting in a way that "caused a lot of pain"—that an unfathomably large network of people helped keep this inexcusable power structure in place for more than 20 years. (Weinstein has stated via his attorney his intent to sue the Times over its story and he has denied allegations of "non-consensual sex" or retaliation as detailed in Ronan Farrow's article for the New Yorker that went live Tuesday.)
News that Harvey had been ousted from the Weinstein Company broke on Sunday, three days after the Times piece. Three members of the board have resigned so far, but the party line is that no one really knew what Harvey was up to. Not even his only brother.
But how is that possible? How did Bob Weinstein, who co-founded Miramax with Harvey in 1979 and has been his business partner ever since, not know? If not every sordid detail, but of a larger behavioral pattern that any conscientious executive would suspect had the potential to ruin them at any moment? The Times reported that Harvey had reached at least eight financial settlements with women he'd mistreated. The paper also reported that Bob was among the executives and board members who were alarmed in 2015 by a memo written by TWC employee Lauren O'Connor that detailed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Harvey and called the company a "toxic environment for women." (O'Connor was one of the women whom the Times said dropped her complaint after agreeing to a financial settlement.)
It should already have been abundantly clear, not just to the men of Hollywood but to all men, that not acting like a creep yourself is sadly only the beginning. Speaking out, not letting others be subjected to treatment you know is wrong, is the only way progress is going to be made.
Perhaps it's clearer now. But what is also now apparent is that the determination to "not know" is a powerful force.
A growing number of stars, including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Blake Livelyand Ryan Gosling, have condemned Weinstein's reported behavior and counted themselves among those who were not privy to that side of the at-times adequately professional impresario.
But Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolieand Kate Beckinsaleare among the now two-dozen-plus women who have come forward with claims that they were propositioned or otherwise mistreated by Weinstein—an indicator of just how deeply this toxicity has penetrated the upper echelons of Hollywood. Moreover, E! News has confirmed that Paltrow told her then-boyfriend Brad Pittabout her experience, and he confronted Weinstein to let him know it better not happen again. McGowan has alleged in tweets that Ben Affleck was aware in the 1990s of her assault accusation against Weinstein too. Affleck has yet to respond.
So did more people actually know-know, or did they know something, but couldn't even begin to comprehend the level of what was allegedly taking place, the sheer number of women involved? Is Bob Weinstein, the legendarily quieter of the two who was considered the numbers-and-strategy guy to his brother's loud-mouthed visionary, just one of the bunch who knew that Harvey was a creep but took pains to not know more?
And if so, did the recent tidal wave of new information prove the tipping point for the "other Weinstein brother"?
"We have different means of working toward the same end, which have proved successful for 25 years," Bob wrote in an essay for Vanity Fair back in 2003. "It actually works out for the best that only one of us likes the spotlight. There wouldn't physically be enough room in it for both."
Barbara Alper/Getty Images
Peter Biskind's seminal 2004 book Down and Dirty Pictures, about the rise of the independent film industry, with Miramax (and its "reputation for malice and brutality") leading the charge, doesn't mention any allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey, but in hindsight some of the commentary sounds suspect.
"I don't think he's a decent guy," former Miramax exec Tom Safford says in the book. "I think he's a bad guy who can't help himself."
"A lot of people are afraid to speak out," director James Ivory also told Biskind, who writes that most people agreed with a roll of their eyes that Harvey was "difficult." Ivory continued, "Directors, actors and actresses, and other people who eventually might end up in his hands again, might want to make another movie with him even though they've had a bad experience; they're not going to talk."
BEI/REX/Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Biskind, meanwhile, did hear harassment stories about Harvey, including Paltrow's story about her arriving at a meeting at his hotel room only to be asked to give him a massage and follow him into the bedroom. In fact, he heard it from Brad Pitt.
"...But it was off the record and so I never used that," Biskind told the Huffington Post this week. "I was writing a profile of Brad Pitt for Vanity Fair." He didn't tell VF editor Graydon Carter, either, because "I didn't use it, because it was off the record, and it was a kind of parenthetical in the interview."
Ultimately, Biskind said, he didn't think at the time that Harvey's alleged mistreatment of women "affected the business that much. I didn't see the connection." And he was writing not expressly about Harvey, he said, but about the business.
Biskind's book, meanwhile, doesn't absolve Bob Weinstein of being a cut-throat businessman, or prone to insisting he get his way on a project, or being just as scary as his brother when it came to bringing down the hammer on a film set or flying off the handle at work.
"Bob is the scary one, for me," Paul Webster, head of production at Miramax between 1995 and 1997, told Biskind. "For the first three months I didn't even walk into his office. The air in there was so weird." "You can't really tell what's going on in Bob's mind," producer Mark Tusk also says in the book. "He will turn on a dime."
But Harvey was the "difficult" one.
Sorvino told Farrow that, after Harvey came on to her in 1995, after the Miramax-distributed Mighty Aphrodite premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, she continued to have a professional relationship with him—and she remains close friends with Bob Weinstein. She says she never told Bob what happened. Sorvino won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the film and is convinced that telling a female employee at Miramax about her experience had a negative effect at her career. (Again, Harvey Weinstein denied ever retaliating against women who resisted his advances.)
And that's the only instance in which Bob is mentioned in Farrow's entire story. Though there's no pretense that Harvey Weinstein is the only kingmaker who was chronically engaging in reprehensible behavior toward women and now Hollywood's problem is solved, there's no evidence that 62-year-old Bob Weinstein—for all of his own documented behavioral quirks—has ever been one of them.
"You don't want to get Bob on a bad day," former Miramax marketing executive Eamonn Bowles says in Down and Dirty Pictures. "But he's more of a mensch. Bob would flip out, he'd be all pissed off, but it would be, the guy's got a reason."
As for Harvey, Bowles said, "I'd spend forty-five minutes with him and think, Wow, what a great guy, and two minutes later he'd be the most fearsome person you ever met in your life."
Biskind writes that "you could have produced a small film on the money Miramax must have spent on Harvey-didn't-mean-it flowers."
At this moment, however, it would seem that Bob Weinstein's only concern is saving what he and his brother built, if that's possible, considering one of the company's first orders of business was to scrub Harvey's name from every film and TV production they have (including Project Runway, a new episode of which airs tonight). "We are going to be O.K.," Weinstein Company president David Glasser reportedly told the board at the emergency meeting called last Thursday in the hours after the Times report came out.
So far in the wake of the explosive allegations, publisher Hachette Book Group has shuttered its Weinstein Books imprint and Apple Co. opted not to move forward with a miniseries about Elvis Presley that was being produced by TWC.
Bob and several board members stated last week that they had hired a team from law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to investigate Harvey's behavior. On Tuesday, after Farrow's story included three allegations of rape against Harvey, Bob and Glasser reportedly told TWC employees via video conference that they were shocked by the allegations of sexual assault and had no knowledge of any settlements paid. Then Bob and three board members released a new statement, obtained by the Times, saying that any "suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false."
A lawyer who represented Harvey when his contract was up for renegotiation in 2015 told the Times that the board was made aware of three or four payments at that time. Board member Lance Maerov, who dealt with Harvey's contract renewal in 2015, said he assumed the settlements had to do with consensual affairs and that Harvey refused to let the board directly review his personnel file.
Bob had no comment for the Times when asked about the conflicting information about the board's knowledge of payouts.
Meanwhile, though Harvey was long considered the driving force behind Miramax—named after their parents, Miriam and Max—and then of TWC after the brothers acrimoniously parted ways with Miramax parent Disney in 2005, they say you should always watch out for the quiet ones.
"There has always been a love-hate relationship between the brothers," said another source. "There have been times they wouldn't speak for months. Let's just say they have an 'inconsistent' relationship."
Bob Weinstein told the Post that any speculation that he fed the story to the Times or was trying to push his brother out of the company was "untrue."
TMZ then reported Tuesday that Bob was given his brother's HR file, containing detailed allegations of sexual harassment, about seven months ago, and that Harvey indeed believed that Bob could've blown the whistle on him.
Bob told TMZ in response, "My brother Harvey is obviously a very sick man. I've urged him to seek immediate professional help because he is in dire need of it. His remorse and apologies to the victims of his abuse are hollow. He said he would go away for help and has yet to do so.
"He has proven himself to be a world-class liar and now rather than seeking help he is looking to blame others. His assertion is categorically untrue from A to Z. I pray he gets the help that he needs and I believe that it is him behind all of these stories to distract from his own failure to get help."
A rep for Harvey in return told TMZ, "No matter what derogatory things Bob Weinstein says about his brother, Harvey Weinstein believes his brother is his brother and does not believe his brother would leak his personnel file to the NYT. Harvey is dealing with his family and is currently in counseling. These are his priorities."
The elder Weinstein brother has since flown to Arizona, where he was supposedly due to check into The Meadows (the facility where Tiger Woodssought help in the wake of his 2009 sex scandal), but is currently staying at a luxury resort.
Over the past 30 years, films the Weinstein brothers have produced and/or distributed have grossed billions of dollars at the box office and amassed more than 300 Oscar nominations. Harvey's award season campaigns are infamous for their aggressiveness—and their effectiveness. Miramax's The English Patient was crowned Best Picture in 1997 and Shakespeare in Love miraculously upset Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture in 1999, while Paltrow's Best Actress Oscar win for the film won her the bittersweet title of "first lady of Miramax."
Harvey later helped fan the momentum for The King's Speech in 2011, resulting in its Best Picture win over The Social Network, and TWC repeated that victory in 2012 with The Artist, which triumphed in the battle of the indies over Fox Searchlight's The Descendants.
Bob, who is also founder and head of TWC-owned Dimension Films, has weathered (or, until now, co-weathered) downturns in his companies' fortunes before, but this of course is a different beast, now that the very name he happens to share is curdling stomachs all over Hollywood.
In 2007, the Weinsteins were still in the weeds two years after leaving Disney (which had bought Miramax in 1993, a year before Pulp Fiction entrenched both their company and Quentin Tarantino on the map). Bob told The New York Times that the Weinstein Company's bottom line "could be better," but they were purposefully trying to move past being only a production and distribution powerhouse, and instead were looking to diversify as a multimedia company.
"We want to be very much like the bigger companies, in a humble boutique way," Bob said.
A 2011 profile of Harvey Weinstein in Vanity Fair detailed just how much of a failure that approach turned out to be. Goldman Sachs had raised more than $1 billion for them to get The Weinstein Company off the ground in 2005, but Harvey was burned out on making movies at the time. Of the roughly 70 films they acquired and distributed between 2006 and 2009, barely 25 percent cracked $1 million at the box office. By the summer of 2008, they only had $50 million left of the $500 million in credit they started with, with yearly interest payments of $40 million to boot.
"Bob and I had never done debt," Harvey told Vanity Fair. "The investment bankers would say to us, 'Debt is cheap money.' No, it's not. Debt can be the most addictive thing in the universe, and it can kill you. You get used to living high off the hog. It was intoxicating. And so in 2008, I just woke up and said, 'This is crazy.'"
It was the resurgence of Harvey-as-moviemaker that ultimately made TWC a Miramax-esque force to be reckoned with. Yet nothing about this business is like what it used to be—as Harvey now knows all too well.
Last year TWC distributed seven films, including Best Picture Oscar nominee Lion, that together took in about $65 million at the box office, according to the New York Times. Their most recent box office hit was 2013's Lee Daniels' The Butler, which took in $116.6 million in ticket sales.
"We've had a $500 million credit line for five years, in place with 14 of the biggest banks in the world, led by Union Bank," David Glasser explained to The Hollywood Reporter in July 2016. "The movie business, at the end of the day, could be a break-even business, but the way the TV business is for this company, and all the other ancillary businesses, even if we were break even in the movie business, all the other divisions of this company are profitable and healthy... It just gets very frustrating to constantly hear about the woes of our company."
Harvey told THR, "The TV company is worth $500 million, $400 million at the worst. There is no debt. If we let go tomorrow, selling the library and selling the TV, the company is worth $700 million, $800 million in a worst-case scenario. And there is no debt."
Bob's go-to line from the inception of Miramax was, "We're artists. We're not interested in money." Yet Biskind's conclusion was that Bob cared more about money than anything else, while Harvey was the cinema connoisseur who wanted to be synonymous with prestige films. Bob had reportedly disagreed with the amount Harvey was willing to bid to buy Miramax back from Disney in 2010, but reluctantly went along with the ultimately ill-fated attempt because his brother was so adamant about it.
In the end, those close to them in the industry told Vanity Fair it was for the best that they didn't get the company back, that TWC was better served when it didn't try to do too much.
Yet now it's unclear whether TWC will ever do something significant again with a Weinstein at the helm.
"The timing looks good to steer the Weinstein Co. out of heavy reliance on prestige films," Marketing to Moviegoers author Robert Marich told Bloomberg News earlier this week. Added brand messaging consultant Tom Sepanski, "They still have a legacy of provocative, groundbreaking films. They're going to have some serious strategic thinking to do."
Starting with, what do we call ourselves now?