RISE AND FALL OF WE­IN­STEIN

LAUDED AS A ‘GOD’ OF HOL­LY­WOOD, THE GRUBBY TRUTH ABOUT HAR­VEY WE­IN­STEIN IS FI­NALLY OUT, WRITES SARAH BLAKE

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News -

Of all the stom­ach­turn­ing dis­clo­sures about Hol­ly­wood heavy­weight Har­vey We­in­stein’s preda­tory be­hav­iour, none can ri­val for sheer im­pact the 113 sec­onds of au­dio cap­tured be­tween an as­pir­ing Ital­ian ac­tor and the movie mogul out­side his Man­hat­tan ho­tel room two years ago.

Ital­ian model Am­bra Bat­ti­lana Gu­tier­rez, 22, is try­ing to avoid walk­ing into a room she seems quite ter­ri­fied of en­ter­ing. At the door, We­in­stein, a heavy-set, 2m tall, 63-year-old, is in­sis­tent, plead­ing, des­per­ate, frus­trated and an­gry.

Gu­tier­rez — who is wear­ing a wire af­ter com­plain­ing to New York po­lice the day be­fore that We­in­stein as­saulted her and put his hand up her skirt at his Tribeca of­fice — asks why he groped her breasts.

“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” he says on the tape, ob­tained by The New Yorker. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”

Gu­tier­rez is in­cred­u­lous: “You’re used to that?”

“Yes. I won’t do it again,” says We­in­stein, be­fore warn­ing her not to “em­bar­rass” him and “cause a scene” at the ho­tel.

We­in­stein, one of Hol­ly­wood’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures with a rep­u­ta­tion for bul­ly­ing and whom Meryl Streep had de­scribed as “God” on­stage in her Os­cars ac­cep­tance speech three years be­fore, turns threat­en­ing.

“Don’t ruin your friend­ship with me for five min­utes.”

When A-lis­ters An­gelina Jolie and Gwyneth Pal­trow re­vealed to The New Yorker this week they had also been sub­ject to We­in­stein’s un­wanted at­ten­tions in a dev­as­tat­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Woody Allen’s es­tranged re­porter son, Ro­nan Far­row, We­in­stein’s fall be­came in­evitable.

The pro­ducer of hun­dreds of films in­clud­ing Pulp Fic­tion, Good Will Hunt­ing, and Shake­speare In Love had been try­ing for days to blus­ter through the fall­out from a New York Times re­port, which said he had been pay­ing off his fe­male ac­cusers for decades, re­veal­ing de­tails of set­tle­ments with eight women.

As Ash­ley Judd, the first ac­tor to pub­licly ac­cuse We­in­stein in the Times piece, put it: “Women have been talk­ing about Har­vey among our­selves for a long time, and it’s sim­ply be­yond time to have the con­ver­sa­tion pub­licly.”

We­in­stein’s ini­tial mea culpa in­cluded an al­lu­sion to how he “came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about be­hav­iour and work­places were dif­fer­ent”. He then tried a ham-fisted de­flec­tion, say­ing he was seek­ing

He lured me to his ho­tel room in 2010 to dis­cuss a char­ac­ter and emerged naked with an erec­tion from the bath­room Ac­tor Emma de Caunes (below) ac­cuses We­in­stein

coun­selling and tak­ing a break from Hol­ly­wood. “I am go­ing to need a place to chan­nel that anger, so I’ve de­cided that I’m go­ing to give the NRA my full at­ten­tion,” he said, in what con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tors quickly la­belled a “pro­gres­sive pig pass”. “I’m mak­ing a movie about our Pres­i­dent, per­haps we can make it a joint re­tire­ment party,” We­in­stein said. While ac­knowl­edg­ing he had “caused a lot of pain”, he also al­luded to Judd’s “trou­bles” (the ac­tor has writ­ten of be­ing sex­u­ally abused in the past), in an echo of how he had smeared his other ac­cusers. With a taste for re­venge, an army of lawyers and PRs, widerang­ing me­dia con­tacts and sheer de­ter­mi­na­tion, We­in­stein had ap­par­ently for decades been able to out­mus­cle any­one who threat­ened to ex­pose him. In­deed, Gu­tier­rez ended up set­tling her 2015 case against We­in­stein af­ter be­ing dragged through the gos­sip pages, with rev­e­la­tions she had pre­vi­ously ac­cused an Ital­ian busi­ness­man of as­sault and at­tended one of for­mer Ital­ian prime min­is­ter Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni’s no­to­ri­ous, sex­fu­elled “bunga bunga” par­ties. But any hope he would skate was dashed with the rev­e­la­tions from Pal­trow and Jolie. More than 30 women have now ac­cused We­in­stein of prey­ing on them, and the fallen mogul has joined the ig­no­min­ious ranks of Bill Cosby, another huge en­ter­tain­ment name whose past caught up with him in his twi­light years.

Three ac­tors say We­in­stein raped them and he has been wholly cast aside.

Fired from the com­pany he helped found with his brother, pub­licly dumped by his fash­ion de­signer wife Ge­orgina Chap­man, the mother of his two young chil­dren, We­in­stein was last pub­licly seen flip­ping pho­tog­ra­phers the bird as he boarded a pri­vate jet to Ari­zona’s celebrity re­hab cen­tre The Mead­ows.

So­cial me­dia has played a piv­otal role in We­in­stein’s un­rav­el­ling, with many of his ac­cusers find­ing huge sup­port and gal­vanis­ing courage on plat­forms such as Twit­ter, In­sta­gram and Face­book.

The new in­ter­sected quite neatly with the old when vet­eran ac­tor Rose Marie — who played Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show through­out the 1960s, took to Twit­ter on Wed­nes­day to of­fer her view.

“Any­one want to hear my thoughts on this Har­vey We­in­stein busi­ness?” she asked her 124,000 fol­low­ers.

“I’ve worked since I was 3, I’m 94. W/ We­in­stein, fi­nally women are speak­ing up to power. I have suf­fered my whole life for that. Dont stop (sic),” she wrote.

Marie went on to say of an up­com­ing biopic about her, Wait For Your Laugh: “It cov­ers my mu­sic be­ing cut from Top Ba­nana film be­cause I wouldn’t sleep w/ pro­ducer in 1950s.”

Many of the high-pro­file de­trac­tors who have piled onto We­in­stein in the past week have in­deed claimed ig­no­rance of his ac­tions.

A de­tailed re­sponse to the Daily Beast by Ge­orge Clooney of­fers in­sight into why so many women are re­luc­tant to com­plain about ha­rass­ment from prom­i­nent men.

“I’ve heard ru­mours, and the ru­mours in gen­eral started back in the ’90s, and they were that cer­tain ac­tresses had slept with Har­vey to get a role,” Clooney said.

“It seemed like a way to smear the ac­tresses and de­mean them by say­ing that they didn’t get the jobs based on their tal­ent, so I took those ru­mours with a grain of salt.”

Clooney, who cred­its We­in­stein with giv­ing him his “first ma­jor big-screen role”, said his ac­tions were “in­de­fen­si­ble”.

“The other part of this, the part we’re hear­ing now about eight women be­ing paid off, I didn’t hear any­thing about that and I don’t know any­one that did. That’s a whole other level and there’s no way you can rec­on­cile that,” he said.

As ac­tor Am­ber Tam­blyn pointed out af­ter read­ing the on­line crit­i­cism di­rected at another We­in­stein ac­cuser, ac­tor Rose McGowan: “Heed the mantra and never for­get: Women. Have. Noth­ing. To. Gain. And. Ev­ery­thing. To. Lose. By. Com­ing. For­ward.”

It’s hard to over­state just how far We­in­stein has fallen. As the co-founder of Mi­ra­max stu­dios in 1979 with his brother Bob, he is cred­ited with bring­ing art-house films into the main­stream, among them Sex, Lies, And Video­tape, My Left Foot, and Cin­ema Par­adiso.

Quentin Tarantino’s break­through was in part from the sup­port off the We­in­stein broth­ers, who fi­nanced Pulp Fic­tion.

Over 11 years from 1992, the stu­dio had at least one Os­car nom­i­nee a year. Best Pic­ture win­ners Matt Da­mon and Ben Af­fleck credit Mi­ra­max with their dis­cov­ery, af­ter the stu­dio made their break­through film, 1997’s Good Will Hunt­ing.

Af­fleck has found him­self caught up in We­in­stein’s un­rav­el­ling.

He re­leased a state­ment af­ter at first be­ing ac­cused of ig­nor­ing the scan­dal, only to have two ac­tors ac­cuse him of grop­ing them and de­mand­ing apolo­gies.

“I am sad­dened and an­gry that a man who I worked with used his po­si­tion of power to in­tim­i­date, sex­u­ally ha­rass and ma­nip­u­late many women over decades,” Af­fleck said.

Da­mon was also en­twined in the saga when a for­mer New York Times re­porter claimed he and Rus­sell Crowe pres­sured the pa­per to pull its planned re­port­ing on We­in­stein’s pro­cliv­i­ties in the 2000s.

“As the fa­ther of four daugh­ters, this is the kind of sex­ual pre­da­tion that keeps me up at night,” Da­mon later said. “This is the great fear for all of us. I did five or six movies with Har­vey. I never saw this. I feel hor­ri­ble for these women and it’s won­der­ful they have this in­cred­i­ble courage and are stand­ing up now.

“We can all feel this change that’s hap­pen­ing, which is nec­es­sary and over­due.”

Just who knew what and for how long is now be­ing dis­sected. Jolie ad­mit­ted she has been aware of We­in­stein’s be­hav­iour for decades.

“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 told the Times.

“This be­hav­iour to­wards women in any field, any coun­try, is un­ac­cept­able.”

Another ac­tor, Jes­sica Chas­tain, said she had known for decades to avoid him.

“I was warned from the be­gin­ning. The sto­ries were every­where. To deny that is to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for it to hap­pen again,” Chas­tain said.

Oth­ers de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as hav­ing spread well be­yond Tin­sel­town.

“The women who have spo­ken about their abuse are brave and heroic and although I didn’t have a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence like this with Har­vey We­in­stein, I un­for­tu­nately can­not say I’m sur­prised, pe­riod,” Char­l­ize Theron said.

“This cul­ture al­ways ex­isted, not just in Hol­ly­wood but across the world. And many men in po­si­tions of power have got­ten away with it for far too long.

“We can­not blame the vic­tims here. A lot of these women are young, just start­ing out in their re­spec­tive fields, and have ab­so­lutely no way to stand up to a man with so much in­flu­ence, greater than theirs.”

I was warned from the be­gin­ning. The sto­ries were every­where Jes­sica Chas­tain

We­in­stein with ac­tor Ash­ley Judd at an Os­cars party in 1997.

For­mer pro­ducer Louisette Geiss, one of the many women who has ac­cused We­in­stein of ha­rass­ment, with her lawyer Glo­ria Allred.

Meryl Streep with We­in­stein on the red car­pet in 2012.

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