Harvey Weinstein: Abuse of Power

We do not usually comment on current affairs but since this is a website about business it was felt that we should weigh in on the news regarding Harvey Weinstein.

Harvey Weinstein is, or rather was, a powerful and influential man in Hollywood. Although he does not have a net worth compared to any one of the Richest Hollywood Power Brokers,  Weinstein was still a man that people in the industry listened to. In other words, Weinstein had the power to make or break the career of actresses.

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nytimes.com

Early Career

Harvey Weinstein was born in New York City on March 19, 1952. Harvey and his future business partner and younger brother Bob were raised in a modest apartment in Queens.

Harvey and Bob Weinstein started Miramax, a film distribution company, in 1979. By 1989 with the release of Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Miramax was the most successful independent studio in America. (businessinsider.com)

In 1993, Miramax was sold to Disney Corporation for what has been reported to be either $60 or $80 million. The Weinstein brothers continued to run Miramax until 2005 when they left to form The Weinstein Company.

Success

It has been reported on their company website that while running Miramax and The Weinstein Company their movies have received 303 nominations for Academy Awards and have won 75 of those Oscars. Although the business has been commercially and critically successful it is said to have a value of only $150 million as reported by Forbes in 2015. Miramax was sold by Disney for $660 million after the Weinstein brothers had left. The Weinstein Company is heavily leveraged and has even had to give up part of its movie library until their debt is repaid.

Hollywood Lore?

The “casting couch” has always been Hollywood lore. It has been common knowledge and a subject of jokes since the 1920’s.According to recent reports of accusations made against Harvey Weinstein, he is a believer in the system. Many actresses have come forward of late to tell their story about encounters they have endured with Harvey Weinstein. Ashley Judd was one of the first to tell of Weinstein’s lecherous ways. Ms. Judd claims that Weinstein once asked her to watch him shower. Harvey Weinstein, or perhaps his company, has had to pay at least 8 different actresses compensation for his ways. One of those actresses is Rose McGowan. Ms. McGowan has not released a statement regarding the current accusations against Harvey Weinstein and we are left to assume that she had to sign a non-disclosure clause.

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Weinstein and Jennifer Lawrence mirror.co.uk

Acclaimed Broadway actor, Nathan Lane, has said that after telling a comb-over joke about Rudy Giuliani at a birthday party for Hillary Clinton in 2000, Harvey Weinstein pushed him up against a wall and said, “This is my fucking show, we don’t need you.” Nathan claims he told Weinstein that, “You can’t hurt me, I don’t have a movie career.” (2017, J. Guerrasio, Business Insider) More famous names are adding their experiences to the already long list of complainants.

Recently, both Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have told their tales of Harvey Weinstein. Paltrow says that at the tender age of 22 when she had signed on to act in the movie Emma, that Weinstein put his hands on her and suggested a massage. “I was a kid, I was signed up I was petrified,” Paltrow said to the NYT. Paltrow says that her then-boyfriend, Brad Pitt, told Weinstein, at a movie premiere, to never touch Paltrow again. Gwyneth Paltrow later received a phone call from the producer telling her to not tell anyone else about the incident, “I thought he was going to fire me. He screamed at me for a long time. It was brutal.” (2017, People.com)

Angelina Jolie has said in an email to the NYT, “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did.” Jolie added, “This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.” (2017, People.com)

Other Hollywood heavyweights have added their voices to those condemning the actions of Harvey Weinstein. They include Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and George Clooney. It seems that being called a Hollywood “God” cannot protect Harvey Weinstein from the consequences of his deplorable acts that have occurred for the past 20+ years. Mr. Weinstein was fired by the board of his own company on Sunday, October 8, 2017. It is a small amount of justice for the victims of his behaviour. This story has just begun to unfold and I believe that the ripples in the water will end up including other people in the power positions in Hollywood. It appears that the time has come for Hollywood to tell a different type of story.

Edit/Addition: January 9, 2018, found Harvey Weinstein as the butt of many jokes told by the host of The Golden Globe Awards, Seth Meyers. As Meyers said, “Let’s talk about the elephant that is not in the room tonight.” That is one of the nicer names that Mr. Weinstein has been called in the past three months or so. The women and men that have worked in the entertainment industry have begun to tell their stories of abuse and molestation and even rape that has occurred at the hands of those men that had power over them and influence over their careers. Many of the mighty have fallen including Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Andrew Kreisberg, Brett Ratner, David Guillod, Danny Masterson, and John Lasseter. All of those men have either been fired from their jobs, suspended from their jobs, or are taking a leave of absence from their job. I am left wondering if the accusations made against President Donald Trump will ever have him losing his job too.

This abuse of power happens in every sector of employment and it needs to stop. With the #metoo and the “Time is Up” movement I am hopeful that we will affect the changes necessary to make the world a safer place for our daughters and for their daughters. The female actors, writers, producers, and directors at The Golden Globe Awards tonight all chose to wear black in protest of the abuses and in solidarity for the “Time is Up” movement. It was an evening that was tricky to navigate but Hollywood did it well. The best part of the evening was when Oprah Winfrey was given the Cecile B. de Mille Award and gave the following uplifting speech. Let the new day dawn…soon.

Cheers,

The Other Half

 

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