We­in­stein al­le­ga­tions swell as film in­dus­try faces scru­tiny

Business World - - ARTS & LEISURE -

LOS AN­GE­LES — The avalanche of as­sault ac­cu­sa­tions against Har­vey We­in­stein grew Wed­nes­day as more ac­tresses came for­ward with ex­plo­sive charges against the movie mogul, whose lurid be­hav­ior has opened a Pan­dora’s Box of Hol­ly­wood ha­rass­ment and hypocrisy.

The new claims landed as the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences as well as the Cannes film fes­ti­val or­ga­ni­za­tion de­clared the abu­sive be­hav­ior re­pug­nant, but also as film fig­ures warned that such ac­tions have gone vir­tu­ally unchecked in an in­dus­try that for years has seen it­self in a pro­gres­sive light.

The We­in­stein rev­e­la­tions are just “the tip of the ice­berg,” com­edy ac­tor and direc­tor Rob Sch­nei­der told TMZ.

“There’s not one ac­tress who doesn’t have a story,” he said, adding that he him­self ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment by a male direc­tor when he was younger.

Amid the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, the Academy, which has awarded 81 Os­cars to We­in­stein films pro­duced by Mi­ra­max and then the We­in­stein Com­pany, an­nounced it would con­vene a meet­ing on Satur­day to “dis­cuss the al­le­ga­tions against We­in­stein and any ac­tions war­ranted by the Academy.”

We­in­stein, 65, has de­nied all charges, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from his spokes­woman Sal­lie Hofmeis­ter. On Wed­nes­day she of­fered “no com­ment” when asked about re­ports We­in­stein was head­ing to Europe to en­ter a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity.

The scan­dal has rocked Hol­ly­wood, with the list of the Os­car-win­ner’s ha­rass­ment vic­tims also re­port­edly now in­clud­ing Gwyneth Pal­trow, An­gelina Jolie, Rosanna Ar­quette, and French ac­tress Ju­dith Go­dreche.

But a new an­gle to al­le­ga­tions emerged Tues­day when three women, in­clud­ing an Ital­ian film star, claimed that We­in­stein raped them.

The We­in­stein Com­pany board has sacked him, and his wife Ge­orgina Chap­man told celebrity mag­a­zine Peo­ple she was leav­ing We­in­stein, with whom she has two chil­dren.

‘EV­ERY­ONE KNEW’

“I am pro­foundly dev­as­tated. I have lost my wife and kids, whom I love more than any­thing else,” We­in­stein told The New York Post, adding that, “I hope one day we can rec­on­cile.”

The lat­est al­le­ga­tions por­tray We­in­stein as a ruth­less sex­ual preda­tor, who on at least one oc­ca­sion sought to en­gage an ac­tress in a three­some with an­other woman.

“He asked us to kiss and she be­gan some sort of ad­vances upon his di­rec­tion,” ac­tress Cara Delev­ingne, who is also a fash­ion model, said in an In­sta­gram post de­tail­ing an en­counter at a ho­tel. When Delev­ingne got up to hur­riedly leave, she wrote, “he walked me to the door and stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips.”

The bluntest ac­cu­sa­tion came from Lea Sey­doux, an award-win­ning French film star who wrote a dev­as­tat­ing firstper­son ac­count of her run-ins with We­in­stein and oth­ers in an in­dus­try that es­sen­tially turned a blind eye to the abuse.

“That’s the most dis­gust­ing thing. Ev­ery­one knew what Har­vey was up to and no one did any­thing,” Sey­doux wrote in The Guardian.

She said she quickly fig­ured out We­in­stein’s mo­tives when they met. “He had a lech­er­ous look. He was us­ing his power to get sex,” she wrote. “He’s big and fat, so I had to be force­ful to re­sist him. I left his room, thor­oughly dis­gusted.”

Some of the worst mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions emerged in a New Yorker mag­a­zine in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­lished Tues­day, which de­tails charges by Ital­ian ac­tress Asia Ar­gento that We­in­stein forced oral sex and in­ter­course on her 20 years ago. She told the pub­li­ca­tion she had main­tained her si­lence un­til now for fear that We­in­stein would “crush” her.

An­other in­stance in­volved model Am­bra Bat­ti­lana Gu­tier­rez, whom the New Yorker said We­in­stein met in March 2015.

BUNGA BUNGA

Ac­cord­ing to the New Yorker, Gu­tier­rez says We­in­stein “lunged at her, grop­ing her breasts and at­tempt­ing to put a hand up her skirt” at a meet­ing in his of­fices in Tribeca. She re­ported the in­ci­dent, and the New York Po­lice De­part­ment asked her to wear a wire.

In the au­dio of their con­ver­sa­tion which was re­leased by the mag­a­zine, We­in­stein can be heard apol­o­giz­ing for grab­bing her breast and then re­peat­edly pres­sur­ing her to come into his ho­tel room.

Man­hat­tan District At­tor­ney Cyrus Vance de­cided at the time not to press charges after it emerged the young woman had at­tended one of former Ital­ian prime min­is­ter Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni’s in­fa­mous “bunga bunga” sex par­ties.

Amid con­cerns about po­ten­tial crim­i­nal­ity, Vance ap­peared be­fore re­porters Wed­nes­day to jus­tify the de­ci­sion.

“Our sex crimes pros­e­cu­tors made a de­ter­mi­na­tion that this was not go­ing to be a prov­able case, and so the de­ci­sion was made not to go for­ward,” Vance said.

“Ob­vi­ously he has some se­ri­ous is­sues, and the tape is ter­ri­ble.”

The abun­dance of charges have sent tremors through the Demo­cratic Party, whose heavy­weights Hil­lary Clin­ton and Barack Obama stand ac­cused of hav­ing waited too long after the rev­e­la­tions broke to dis­avow their friend and party donor.

Repub­li­cans have launched with­er­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that lib­eral elites were pro­tect­ing one of their own, as those in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s party de­manded that Democrats jet­ti­son con­tri­bu­tions by the movie mogul.

Since 1990, We­in­stein and his wife have per­son­ally do­nated more than $1.4 mil­lion to var­i­ous Demo­cratic can­di­dates or groups, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics. —

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