The day after The Hollywood Reporter revealed Harvey Weinstein and his team of lawyers and public relations professionals were mounting a campaign against it, the New York Times published its highly anticipated exposé regarding the famed producer’s numerous sexual harassment allegations. Between the early ’90s and at least 2015, Weinstein reached eight settlements with women for charges of inappropriate behavior exhibited by the Hollywood mogul at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel and elsewhere. Their nearly identical stories indicate he would often ask for massages, or for the women to watch him shower.
According to the Times, these include “a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and [Lauren O’Connor].” The lattermost, who wrote a “searing memo” pertaining to Weinstein’s advances toward Emily Nestor, a temporary employee, described “a toxic environment for women” at the producer’s company. Lisa Bloom, Weinstein’s legal advisor (and whose book he’s adapting for TV), said O’Connor’s memos were “off base” and said her client “denies many of the accusations as patently false.” Even so, O’Connor was one of at least eight women Weinstein settled with.
What’s more, prominent actresses like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan have also entered the frame in light of Weinstein’s sordid workplace history. Judd, who spoke with the Times, said she remembered thinking to herself, “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” In another interview quoted by the article, Judd said “[w]omen have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.” McGowan did not go on the record with the Times, though she did tweet several times in response to THR‘s preemptive story.
The Scream actress was especially irritated after reading Weinstein’s initial statement to THR, in which he joked: “The story sounds so good, I want to buy the movie rights.” Interestingly, in a prepared statement shared with and published by the Times following the story’s debut, Weinstein avoided similarly problematic jabs. “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,” he wrote. Weinstein added he would be taking a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on.”
The statement, which includes everything from a Jay-Z quote, to promotion for an upcoming movie, has been criticized for failing to grapple with the problem, and will likely do little to make this controversy go away. Especially since, as THR indicated in a follow-up story, Weinstein is going to sue the Times. “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” wrote Weinstein’s lawyer, Charles Harder, who famously represented Hulk Hogan against Gawker. “We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”