The Hindu Explains: Harvey Weinstein to Harry Potter

Who is Harvey Weinstein?

In this January 8, 2017 photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at The Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, California. The Weinstein Co.’s board said in a statement on Tuesday that Weinstein had resigned.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein last Saturday, pledging that the era of “shameful complicity in sexually predatory behaviour” in the movie industry was over. The Academy’s 54-member board, which includes stars such as Tom Hanks and Whoopie Goldberg, voted in excess of the required “two-thirds majority,” it said in a statement.

What happened?

Mr. Weinstein, who reigned as the czar of popular culture for over three decades and acted as a promoter of women’s causes, is in the eye of a storm as several women have accused him of sexual assault, including rape.

A report in The New York Times on October 5 cited eight incidents in which he pressured his employees and actors over three decades, aspiring and established, for sexual favours. Since then, numerous women have spoken out: more than 40 as of this week, and counting.

The expose also triggered a global campaign that encouraged women who faced harassment to speak out with the hash tag #MeToo.

Does he face criminal charges?

Most of these allegations refer to incidents that happened too long ago to trigger a criminal investigation. But some are within the time limit. The police in Los Angeles have started an investigation against him, based on a complaint by an Italian model-actress that he allegedly raped her in 2013. The complainant remains anonymous. The New York police have two cases and the London Metropolitan Police are investigating allegations made by three women. Among the allegations that have surfaced, at least eight are of rape or forced sexual acts.

Why did it take so long?

Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan went on record in the first New York Times report about harassment they faced at the hands of Mr. Weinstein; Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie recounted their tales later. Oscar-winning actress, director and producer Lupita Nyong’o is the latest to recount her story of escaping Mr. Weinstein’s aggression.

All accounts have a similar pattern — he refused to take ‘no’ for an answer, badgered them to succumb and promised to help them advance their careers if they gave in. When things went out of hand, he reached a settlement with them, often paying paltry amounts ranging between $80,000 and $150,000.

What was his film journey?

Mr. Weinstein and his brother Bob grew up in New York and entered the entertainment industry as concert organisers before they set up a film distribution company, named Miramax, after their parents Miriam and Max. Miramax became a huge success through the 1990s. In 1993, the brothers sold it to Disney for $80 million but continued to run the company until 2005, when they started their own production house, The Weinstein Company. He has collected six Oscars over his career, producing several hugely successful films such as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Clerks, The Crying Game, Gangs of New York, Good Will Hunting, Django Unchained, The King’s Speech, Silver Linings Playbook, Blue Valentine and Carol under the two companies.

What is his link to Democrats?

He wore his activist hat as he rubbed shoulders with the powerful Democratic establishment. Poverty, AIDS, gun control and universal healthcare — he ticked the right boxes for all causes progressive and dined with Presidents, Governors and Senators. He hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in his Manhattan home in 2016; in 2012, he hosted Barack Obama for a fund-raiser.

Mr. Weinstein visited the Obama White House 13 times and supported a faculty chair at Rutgers University in feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s name. Malia Obama, older daughter of Mr. Obama, interned at his company this year.

Mr. Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman has announced that she would divorce him. Mr. Weinstein maintains that all his sexual relations were consensual and pleaded with his Hollywood contacts to stand by him, in a leaked email. “Do not let me be fired…If the industry supports me, that is all I need.” That did not help, and the Weinstein Company has fired him.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 5:38:00 PM |

Next Story