The fall of a Hol­ly­wood mogul

The Week - - Front Page -

“Even by the stan­dards of Hol­ly­wood, it has been a spec­tac­u­lar fall from grace,” said Nick Con­sta­ble in the Daily Mail. The rep­u­ta­tion of Harvey Weinstein, the pro­ducer be­hind such films as The English Pa­tient and Pulp Fic­tion, is in ru­ins fol­low­ing a slew of sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions. The New York Times re­ported last week that the movie mogul was a se­rial sex pest who had reached at least eight le­gal set­tle­ments with women over the past three decades. More ac­cusers have since come for­ward, in­clud­ing the ac­tresses Gwyneth Pal­trow and An­gelina Jolie, al­leg­ing ha­rass­ment, as­sault and even rape. Their ac­counts share a com­mon nar­ra­tive: Weinstein in­vited them to his ho­tel room for work rea­sons, only to greet them ei­ther in a dress­ing gown or naked, and ask them to mas­sage him or watch him shower. Weinstein, who has been sacked by his film com­pany, says he is seek­ing help to “con­quer my demons”.

Weinstein’s abu­sive be­haviour has long been an open se­cret in Hol­ly­wood, said Re­becca Trais­ter in New York mag­a­zine. I wit­nessed it first-hand back in 2000 when I got into a row with him at a book party. He swore at me and, when my boyfriend in­ter­vened, he got him in a head­lock, dragged him onto Sixth Av­enue, and pro­ceeded to pound him. Such was Weinstein’s power then, that de­spite dozens of cam­era flashes go­ing off, no photo of the scene ever made it into print. No one has dared hold the phys­i­cally im­pos­ing, well-con­nected Weinstein to ac­count for his abuses. Alas, Hol­ly­wood has a long his­tory of “preda­tory, in­sti­tu­tional sex­ism”, said Hugo Rifkind in The Times. But the Weinstein scan­dal has not erupted now purely by chance. It’s a symp­tom of a “chang­ing world” and evolv­ing at­ti­tudes.

Wrong, said Lee Smith in The Weekly Stan­dard. It’s noth­ing to do with “raised con­scious­ness”. The rea­son this story came out now is be­cause Weinstein’s power is on the wane. Had Hil­lary Clin­ton won the pres­i­dency, it’s likely that Weinstein – a ma­jor Demo­cratic fundraiser who re­cently gave an in­tern­ship to the Obama’s el­dest daugh­ter Malia – would still be get­ting away with it. The me­dia model that pro­tected him has also col­lapsed. There was a time when his com­pany, Mi­ra­max, used to buy the movie rights to ev­ery big story pub­lished in New York’s mag­a­zines. But the col­lapse of print ad­ver­tis­ing means few mag­a­zines can now pay for the kind of jour­nal­ism that trans­lates into screen­plays, so they have no rea­son to keep him on side. Be­sides, the down­fall of a movie mogul makes a great story. “Maybe there’s even a movie in it.”

Gwyneth Pal­trow with Weinstein

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