Who knew about mogul’s al­leged mis­deeds against ac­tresses?

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAKE COYLE AP FILM WRITER

NEW YORK—As the grim scope of the al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing Har­vey W ein­stein con­tin­ued to ex­pand Wed­nes­day, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that be­stows the Acad­emy Awards moved to dis­tance it­self from the film mogul, Ben Af­fleck was forced to de­fend his own pre­vi­ous ac­tions, and scru­tiny fell on who knew what about the W ein­stein’s be­hav­ior over the decades it al­legedly took place.

A key and po­ten­tially volatile com­po­nent of Tues­day’s New York er ex­pose was the claim that “a cul­ture of com­plic­ity” has ex­isted at both The We­in­stein Co. and his pre­vi­ous film com­pany, the Walt Dis­ney-owned Mi­ra­max. “Nu­mer­ous peo­ple through­out the companies (were) fully aware of his be­hav­ior but ei­ther abet­ting it or look­ing the other way,” the mag­a­zine re­ported.

Fur­ther scru­tiny has fol­lowed the con­tention that W ein­stein’s con­duct was “an open se­cret” in Hol­ly­wood. Fo­cus has turned, in par t, to not just the work­place en­vi­ron­ments We­in­stein op­er­ated in, but the stars who may have had some knowl­edge of We­in­stein’s al­leged be­hav­ior but who failed to raise any alarms.

Ben A ff le ck was called out Tues­day by ac­tress Rose McGowan. In a tweet, McGowan ac­cused Af­fleck of ly­ing af­ter is­su­ing a state­ment that he was “sad­dened and an­gry” about the We­in­stein rev­e­la­tions. McGowan, who The New York Times re­ported reached a $100,000 set­tle­ment with We­in­stein in 1997, suggested Af fleck knew decades a go about We­in­stein’s be­hav­ior.

Ac­tress Hi­larie Bur ton also re­newed an ear­lier al­le­ga­tion that Af fleck g roped her dur­ing a visit to MTV’s TRL, which she was host­ing in 2003. Af­fleck on Wed­nes­day tweeted an apol­ogy: “I acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately to­ward Ms. Bur ton and I sin­cerely apol­o­gize.”

The Acad­emy of Mo­tion Picture Arts and Sciences also an­nounced Wed­nes­day that its Board of Gov­er­nors will hold a spe­cial meet­ing Satur­day to dis­cuss the al­le­ga­tions“and any ac­tions war­ranted by the acad­emy.”

We­in­stein has long been a ma­jor fig­ure at the Acad­emy Awards, where his films have reg­u­larly won Os­cars, in­clud­ing five best pic­turewin­ners. We­in­stein per­son­ally shared in the best-picture Os­car for “Shake­speare in Love.” The film acad­emy called W ein­stein’ s al­leged con­duct“re­pug­nant” and “an­ti­thet­i­cal to the high stan­dards of the Acad­emy and the cre­ative com­mu­nity it rep­re­sents.”

The on­go­ing fall­out poses po­ten­tially se­vere le­gal is­sues for the companies in­volved. The We­in­stein Co., which fired its co-chair­man on Sun­day, has moved to con­tinue for­ward with plans to change its name. In a state­ment Tues­day night, the We­in­stein Co. board of direc­tors strongly de­nied that it knew about We­in­stein’s be­hav­ior.

“These al­leged ac­tions are an­ti­thet­i­cal to hu­man de­cency. These al­le­ga­tions come as an ut­ter sur­prise to the board. Any sug­ges­tion that the board had knowl­edge of this con­duct is false ,” the four-mem­ber board said in a state­ment. “We are com­mit­ted to as­sist­ing with our full en­er­gies in all crim­i­nal or other in­ves­ti­ga­tions of these al­leged acts, while pur­su­ing jus­tice for the vic­tims and a full and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of our own.”

The board, how­ever, in­cludes We­in­stein’s brother, Bob, the com­pany’s other co-chair man. And sev­eral board mem­bers ear­lier re­signed in the wake of the ini­tial al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. That re­port, pub­lished Oct. 5 by the New York Times, also de­tailed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in al­leged set­tle­ments. It’s not known if W ein­stein made the pay­ments per­son­ally or if ei­ther The We­in­stein Co. or Mi­ra­max did.

Le­gal ex­perts are skepti- cal The We­in­stein Co. could have been un­aware given the vol­ume of al­le­ga­tions.

“Given all the in­for­ma­tion that’s com­ing out now, I would find it highly im­plau­si­ble that the board was not aware ,” said An­gela Red­dock-Wright, an at­tor­ney spe­cial­iz­ing in em­ploy­ment and la­bor law who has rep­re­sented busi­nesses in ha­rass­ment suits. “T here are just too many al­le­ga­tions here. Un­less there were set­tle­ments paid out by W ein­stein from his own per­sonal money, set­tle­ments over a cer­tain dol­lar value would have pre­sum­ably been ap­proved by the board of direc­tors.”

Vet­eran em­ploy­ment at­tor­ney Ann Fromholz said that given We­in­stein’s po­si­tion at the com­pany, T he We­in­stein Co. would be li­able over sex­ual ha­rass­ment claims even if they weren’t aware. Be­tween the po­ten­tial law­suits and the likely loss of busi­ness, Fromholz con­sid­ers it un­likely T he We­in­stein Co. will sur­vive un­der any name.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for both companies didn’t re­spond to ques­tions.

On Tues­day, Michael Eis­ner, who was Dis­ney’s chief ex­ec­u­tive dur­ing Har­vey We­in­stein’s ten­ure at Mi­ra­max, said he “had no idea he was ca­pa­ble of these hor­ri­ble ac­tions .” Dis­ney pur­chased Mi­ra­max in 1993; the We­in­stein broth­ers de­parted in 2005 to cre­ate the We­in­stein Co.

“Fired (the) We­in­steins be­cause they were ir­re­spon­si­ble, and Har­vey was an in­cor­ri­gi­ble bully,” said Eis­ner on Twit­ter.

Three women ac­cused We­in­stein of rap­ing them, The New Yorker re­ported Tues­day, in­clud­ing the Ital­ian ac­tress and film­maker Asia Ar­gento and a woman, Lu­cia Evans, who was an as­pir­ing ac­tress in col­lege when he al­legedly sex­u­ally as­saulted her at Mi­ra­max’s Man­hat­tan of fices in 2004. The mag­a­zine also cited a third, un­named ac­cuser. A grow­ing num­ber of ac­tresses, in­clud­ing Gwyneth Pal­trow and Rosanna Ar­quette, have also made al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

More women con­tinue to come for­ward. On Wed­nes­day, both French ac­tress Lea Se ydoux and model and ac­tress Car a Del ev­ing ne said they had been sex­u­ally ha­rassed by We­in­stein.

“We were talk­ing on the sofa when he sud­denly jumped on me and tried to kiss me,” Sey­doux wrote for the Guardian. “I had to de­fend my­self. He’s big and fat, so I had to be force­ful to re­sist him. I left his room, thor­oughly dis­gusted. I wasn’ t afraid of him, though. Be­cause I knew what kind of man he was all along.”

RICHARD VO­GEL / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

At­tor­ney Glo­ria Allred, cen­ter, is joined by se­nior par tner Michael Maroko, right, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with her client, Louisette Geiss, left, an al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment vic­tim of en­ter tain­ment ex­ec­u­tive Har vey We­in­stein, in Los An­ge­les on Tues­day.

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