Harvey Weinstein's Career-Long Cover-Up Revealed: How Gwyneth Paltrow and Lena Dunham Tried to Warn People

New York Times exposes those who helped the movie mogul hide the truth over the years

By Meg Swertlow Dec 06, 2017 2:57 PMTags

Harvey Weinstein may be thought of as a monster by the world at large, but he's a monster who knew how to make friends—and then use them.

The New York Times' staggering new exposé, published Tuesday night, is a deep-dive into the people who tried to cover up or aid his actions, others who attempted to extract the truth, and those who merely looked the other way.

The lengthy article is almost a laundry list of all the movers and shakers who helped Weinstein manipulate and control his public image (and, more importantly, kill unflattering items). According to The New York Times, their actions/inactions allowed him to allegedly victimize women for decades.

The drama, misdirection and misdeeds that are told NYT piece is enough to fill five movies.

"Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct," the film producer's attorneys, Blair Berk and Ben Brafman, told E! News in a statement Wednesday. "There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred. Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein's behavior, he remains deeply apologetic."

Another statement shared with E! News regarding claims he gave "sexual favors" to actresses like Renée Zellweger read, "Mr. Weinstein vehemently denies these accusations and has never stated he slept with any of them. It's ridiculous that anyone would believe these talented women, academy award winners, provided sexual favors in exchange for roles they earned based on their talent and brilliant work. It's simply not true."

Here are just some of the publication's most jaw-dropping revelations about the fallen mogul's "complicity machine"...

1. He Tried to Stop the NYT Story Right Before It Was Published: The article states that minutes before The New York Times published the devastating first allegations about Weinstein in October, the 65-year-old called up the reporters who wrote it and urged them to not publish.

The article says that Weinstein warned, "I am a man who has great resource."

2. Not All Agents Protected Their Clients: Actress Mia Kirshner, whose grandparents survived the Lodz ghetto in Poland, says that when she was 19 years old she came to New York and her agents at CAA set up a meeting with Weinstein at her hotel to discuss a role in a possible film about the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

"We thought it was a coup," she said. But then she claims that the producer wanted to exchange sex for a career opportunity, but she rejected him.

She says she told her primary agent, Lisa Grode, her talent manager, John Carrabino, and his boss, Sandy Gallin. She says that Gallin was furious and wanted her to meet with the producer, this time with a wire, but that her manager and agent did not think that was a good idea.

"I was told to forget about it; it was pointless to do anything about this," Kirshner said. 

"It all came down to money," she said. "It speaks to why he was protected as opposed to the actors."

The outlet reports that Grode and Carrabino declined to comment; Gallin is deceased.

C.A.A. said in a statement that they wanted to apologize "to any person the agency let down for not meeting the high expectations we place on ourselves."

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The New Yorker

3. Weinstein Tried to Meet With Ronan Farrow: The publication claims that in September, Weinstein stormed the office of Bryan Lourd, the co-chairman of CAA, to complain about an New Yorker article that their client Ronan Farrow was writing on his alleged misconduct.

Later that month, Lourd apparently tried to set up a meeting at the producer's request, but Lourd wrote Weinstein and email that said, "This guy won't meet right now. He did say he will call you soon. I think he is absolutely pursuing the story."

And that's exactly what happened...

BEI/REX/Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

4. Weinstein Told Other Women He'd Slept With Gwyneth Paltrow To Convince Them to Sleep With Him: Over 20 years ago, Paltrow allegedly told her agent Rick Kurtzman of C.A.A that Weinstein had made advances on her in a hotel room, but she rejected him. 

In the new interview, she says when she told Kurtzman what had happened that he "looked incredulous" and expressed disgust, but he did not suggest discussing the episode with the agency's higher ups. Kurtzman has declined to comment.

But The Times reports, without her knowledge, Weinstein told other women that she did not reject him. Paltrow says now other women have told her that he tried to coerce them into sex acts by bragging that he'd had sex with the Shakespeare in Love actress, and that sleeping with him was "the best thing you can do for your career now."

Paltrow says that women have come to her in recent weeks to say that Weinstein used her name in several encounters. 

She said the conversations with the victims have been upsetting. In the interview, Paltrow said, "He's not the first person to lie about sleeping with someone, but he used the lie as an assault weapon."

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

5. He Had Reporters Feed Him Information: A. J. Benza, a former New York Daily News gossip columnist, explained that in late 2003 or early the next year, he had dinner with Weinstein to discuss a plan on how to get him out of a potentially embarrassing entanglement. 

Benza says that while Weinstein was married to his first wife he became involved with Georgina Chapman. The producer wanted the relationship to be confidential until his divorce was finalized and the media man says he and the producer hatched a plan. Benza recalls that he told Weinstein, "I could supply your P.R. girls with a lot of gossip—a lot of stories—and if people come at them with the 'Harvey's having an affair story,’ they can barter."

"He said, ‘A. J., it’s got to be good stories,’ and I said, ‘Don’t you worry about it.'"

Benza says he then collected a monthly retainer.

Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister told The Times that the monthly payments to Benza were for public relations work during Miramax’s dispute with Disney.

6. Weinstein Struck a Deal With American Media:

The outlet claims that the truth began to leak out in 2015 after the New York City police questioned Weinstein about allegedly groping an Italian model, Ambra Battilana.

Weinstein's legal team reportedly worked to undermine the model around the same time that the producer struck a business deal for a talk show with American Media and Dylan Howard, The Enquirer’s editor and the company’s chief content officer.

Apparently, American Media used a strategy known in tabloid newsrooms as "catch and kill," which means acquiring exclusive rights to negative stories and then choosing not to publish them.

In the Battilana case, the company tried to buy her story, but it never sold. American Media says that was because Battilana’s price was too high. But the model's spokesperson said that she "never sought out or solicited any offers."

The Times reports that it saw documents that show the model rejecting attempts to be paid for her story.

Prosecutors did not pursue charges against Weinstein due to "insufficient evidence." 

The story did not appear in America Media publications.

According to the NYT, American Media has admitted that it did gather information to help Weinstein due to mutual business interests.  

"To the extent AMI provided 'off the record' information to Mr. Weinstein about his accusers," the company said in a statement that it was giving him information "at a time when Mr. Weinstein was denying any harassment."

The statement also said Howard would not have let the information be published.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Lena Dunham Tried to Warn People About Weinstein: The producer boasted powerful friends in the world of Hollywood, but also politics like the Obamas and Bill and Hillary Clinton

Dunham told the NYT that in 2016 she was concerned by the mogul's visibility during Clinton campaign for president—Weinstein was hosting fund-raisers and appearing at campaign events. She had heard direct and indirect stories from other women about disturbing encounters with the producer so she took it upon herself to warn the campaign. 

"I just want you to let you know that Harvey's a rapist and this is going to come out at some point," Dunham said she told Kristina Schake, the campaign's deputy communications director. She says she also said, "I think it's a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it's an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault."

The Girls star recalled that Schake was surprised at her words and said she'd tell Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager.

Dunham said she also warned Adrienne Elrod, a spokeswoman for Clinton who worked with celebrity campaigners. Dunham says she didn't think they did anything about her concerns since weeks before the election, the producer helped organize a star-studded fund-raiser Broadway fundraiser with Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and more.

When contacted by the NYT, Elrod and Schake, through Clinton's communications director, denied that Dunham said anything about rape. Mook said that he had not been alerted about the producer.

Previously, Weinstein has acknowledged that he's "caused a lot of pain," but has denied any non-consensual sexual relationships.