Top Hol­ly­wood Stars Un­der Fire Celebs had heard sto­ries of Har­vey We­in­stein’s bad be­hav­ior, and now crit­ics are ask­ing tough ques­tions

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They’d heard sto­ries. On Oct. 23, George Clooney ad­mit­ted he’d been told about Har­vey We­in­stein’s “af­fairs” with ac­tresses — by Har­vey him­self. “I took all that with a grain of salt,” he said, in­sist­ing he didn’t know any­thing worse was go­ing on. Matt Da­mon ad­mit­ted he’d heard the mogul had sex­u­ally ha­rassed Gwyneth Pal­trow in a ho­tel room in the 1990s, even though he’d claimed ut­ter shock when the scan­dal first broke. Matt, 47, had heard about it from pal Ben Af­fleck, 45, who used to date Gwyneth.

But they and count­less other pow­er­ful men in Hol­ly­wood kept si­lent for years. In the wake of the mas­sive sex­ual mis­con­duct scan­dal — more than 50 women have come for­ward in re­cent weeks with al­le­ga­tions against Har­vey, 65, in­clud­ing sex­ual as­sault and rape — crit­ics say the in­dus­try’s big­gest male stars have a lot to an­swer for. Har­vey has de­nied any al­le­ga­tions of non­con­sen­sual sex. A scathing Oct. 24 col­umn in the New York Post blasted George, Matt and oth­ers as “hyp­ocrites” and “cow­ards” whose si­lence made them “com­plicit.” Re­por­tit­girl.com CEO Kat Alexan­der, a sex­ual as­sault sur­vivor-turned-vic­tims’ ad­vo­cate, agrees. “Re­main­ing si­lent for all these years,” she tells Life & Style, “can make these men en­ablers.”


Matt said he kept quiet be­cause Gwyneth, 45, and Har­vey “had come to [an] agree­ment or un­der­stand­ing.” Gwyneth’s old boyfriend Brad Pitt, 53, has been praised for con­fronting Har­vey af­ter she told him of the in­ci­dent, but he still didn’t go pub­lic un­til the scan­dal broke. “Si­lence is the en­emy,” at­tor­ney Glo­ria Allred, who rep­re­sents at least two of Har­vey’s al­leged vic­tims, tells Life & Style. “Hol­ly­wood’s male ac­tors need to be role mod­els. If they see it, they need to speak out against those who are do­ing it.”

In­stead, George, 56, is point­ing the fin­ger at ev­ery­one but him­self. He made a point of con­demn­ing the me­dia for not pub­lish­ing re­ports of Har­vey’s be­hav­ior. “Whoever had that story and didn’t write it should be held re­spon­si­ble,” he charged. But that’s deeply hyp­o­crit­i­cal: In the past, up­set by sto­ries about him and tac­tics used by pho­tog­ra­phers to pho­to­graph him, George urged a dra­matic change in li­bel laws “[so] you’ll be able to hold peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for what they say.” For a pub­lic fig­ure to win a defama­tion suit, a jour­nal­ist must be found to have said or writ­ten some­thing false and to have acted with “ac­tual mal­ice” — a stan­dard George wanted re­moved. (“Two words — ma­li­cious in­tent,” he said in 1997, misiden­ti­fy­ing the le­gal stan­dard. “Change these two words, and all jour­nal­ists are held ac­count­able.”) But get­ting rid of the “ac­tual mal­ice” re­quire­ment means some- one who makes an hon­est mis­take could be suc­cess­fully sued for defama­tion. “Get­ting rid of the ac­tual mal­ice stan­dard would sig­nif­i­cantly weaken the First Amend­ment and the free­dom of the press in this coun­try,” notes Mary-rose Pa­pan­drea, a First Amend­ment ex­pert and pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of North Carolina School of Law, not­ing that pub­lish­ers would be more afraid to write about things like sex­ual mis­con­duct. “If there were no ac­tual mal­ice stan­dard, we might still be wait­ing for the We­in­stein story to be pub­lished.” (Iron­i­cally, George’s po­si­tion on the me­dia is al­most iden­ti­cal to that of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who George has la­beled a “fas­cist.”)

So what should these stars have done? “Men with con­sid­er­able power in Hol­ly­wood could have de­manded an in­ter­ven­tion by the We­in­stein Com­pany board,” says Noreen Far­rell, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Equal Rights Ad­vo­cates. “They could have told fe­male col­leagues that they would stand with them if they lodged a com­plaint. They could have used their plat­form to talk about the prob­lem of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.”

Look­ing the Other Way?

Ben, George and Matt all heard sto­ries about Har­vey but claim they didn’t know how bad it was. “Min­i­miz­ing the sex­ual ha­rass­ment and preda­tory be­hav­ior of We­in­stein was con­ve­nient for pow­er­ful men in Hol­ly­wood,” charges equal rights ad­vo­cate Noreen Far­rell. “Clearly, many chose to ig­nore the ob­vi­ous.”

Fi­nally Fac­ing Con­se­quences

More than half a dozen women have ac­cused Har­vey, who’s fac­ing crim­i­nal probes in New York and Lon­don, of sex­ual as­sault or rape, and more than 50 have al­leged ha­rass­ment and other in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior.

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