UPDATE: In a statement to E! News, the Weinstein Company's Board of Representatives endorsed Harvey Weinstein's decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the company. They also announced a thorough and independent investigation.
"We take extremely seriously the accusations published in today's New York Times about our Company's co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. It is essential to our Company's culture that all women who work for it or have any dealings with it or any of our executives are treated with respect and have no experience of harassment or discrimination," the statement read in part. "We believe it is important to learn the full truth regarding the article's very serious accusations, in the interests of the Company, its shareholders and its employees."
"As Harvey has said, it is important for him to get professional help for the problems he has acknowledged," the statement continued. "Next steps will depend on Harvey's therapeutic progress, the outcome of the Board's independent investigation, and Harvey's own personal decisions."
Harvey Weinstein is no shrinking violet.
On Thursday, The New York Times published an investigative article in which multiple women, including actress Ashley Judd, accused the Hollywood producer of decades of sexual assault. In a statement, he told E! News, "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go." In addition to misquoting Jay-Z's lyrics, Weinstein pledged to channel his anger towards fighting the NRA—but first, the 65-year-old will be taking a leave of absence.
Few expected Weinstein to go away quietly, and he's already given at least two interviews since The New York Times' article was published. Speaking first to The New York Post, he said, "I have got to change, I've got to grow, I've got to deal with my personality, I have got to work on my temper, I have got to dig deep. I know a lot of people would like me to go into a facility, and I may well just do that—I will go anywhere I can learn more about myself. I want to be able to look at the people I have hurt and say, 'I am sorry. I have changed and I've progressed.' I am terribly embarrassed for my company, my staff and the only person who could fix this is me..."
Weinstein hired attorneys David Boies and Charles J. Harder and announced plans to sue The New York Times for an estimated $50 million. In a statement to E! News, Harder said the article in question "relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses." Asked about claims that he'd reached at least eight settlements with women, Weinstein said, "No company ever talks about settlements, and neither does the recipient, so I don't know how the Times came to this conclusion, but it is pure conjecture; the reporters have made assumptions."
Harder also told E! News the article is "saturated with false and defamatory statements."
Attorney Lisa Bloom is also working with Weinstein. "He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways," Bloom said in a statement, adding that her client "is not going to demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him, although he does dispute many of the allegations..."
Bloom added, "He denies many of the accusations as patently false."
Weinstein would not confirm or deny specific claims lodged against him in the article. "I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times' inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies. They made assumptions," the producer told The New York Post. "The Times had a deal with us that they would tell us about the people they had on the record in the story, so we could respond appropriately, but they didn't live up to the bargain. The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team."
(A spokesperson for The New York Times said Thursday it is "confident in the accuracy" of its reporting. "Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication," the spokesperson told E! News. "In fact, we published his response in full.")
Meanwhile, Weinstein also announced he plans to speak with Judd.
"I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now; I read her book, in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child," the producer said. "Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now, I am going to reach out to her."
(Judd's memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir, was published in 2011.)
In a separate interview with The Daily Mail, Weinstein reiterated that he wants to smooth things over with Judd, who has made three movies with him. "My feeling is I read her book about being abused as a child," he said. Because of that, he added, "Whatever Ashley wants to say about me, I'm going to be supportive. I need to earn her forgiveness. I thought we had a relationship at one time [and] the goal is to get that back. I salute her like everybody else does."
Speaking via telephone, Weinstein said he believes his problem is "more about temperament" than the behavior multiple sources and women described to The New York Times. "I have a temper and it's not a good one, so I think I act too imperiously," he said. "There's a difference between that any anything else." In light of the bombshell report, Weinstein—who is married to fashion designer Georgina Chapman—knows he has a "lonely journey" ahead. "I have had tough conversations with my family—really tough ones—but my family is standing with me."
(Originally published October 6, 2017 at 7:10 a.m. PST)