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Harvey Weinstein CBE (/ˈwnstn/; born March 19, 1952) is an American film producer. He and his brother Bob Weinstein co-founded the entertainment company Miramax, which produced several successful independent films, including Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), The Crying Game (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Heavenly Creatures (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), and Shakespeare in Love (1998).[1] Weinstein won an Academy Award for producing Shakespeare in Love, and garnered seven Tony Awards for a variety of plays and musicals, including The Producers, Billy Elliot the Musical, and August: Osage County.[2] After leaving Miramax, Weinstein and his brother Bob founded The Weinstein Company, a mini-major film studio. He was co-chairman, alongside Bob, from 2005 to 2017.

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein 2010 Time 100 Shankbone.jpg
Weinstein in April 2011
Born (1952-03-19) March 19, 1952 (age 67)
Alma materUniversity at Buffalo
OccupationFilm producer
Years active1979–2017
Spouse(s)
Eve Chilton
(m. 1987; div. 2004)

Georgina Chapman
(m. 2007; sep. 2017)
Children5
RelativesBob Weinstein (brother)

In October 2017, following sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein, he was dismissed from his company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[3][4] By October 31, over 80 women had made allegations against Weinstein.[5] The allegations sparked the #MeToo social media campaign and many similar sexual abuse allegations against and dismissals of powerful men around the world, now called the "Weinstein effect". On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was arrested in New York, charged with rape and other offenses, and released on bail.[6]

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Weinstein was born March 19, 1952, in the Flushing section of Queens, New York,[7] to diamond cutter Max Weinstein[8] and his wife, Miriam (née Postel).[8][9] His family is Jewish,[10] and his maternal grandparents were Polish immigrants.[11] He grew up with his younger brother, Bob, in a housing co-op named Electchester in New York City. He graduated from John Bowne High School and the University at Buffalo.[12] Weinstein, his brother Bob, and Corky Burger independently produced rock concerts as Harvey & Corky Productions in Buffalo through most of the 1970s.[12][13]

Film careerEdit

1970s: Early work and creation of MiramaxEdit

Both Weinstein brothers had grown up with a passion for films, and they desired to enter the film industry. In the late '70s, using profits from their concert promotion business, the brothers created a small independent film distribution company named Miramax, named after their parents, Miriam and Max.[9] The company's first releases were primarily music-oriented concert films such as Paul McCartney's Rockshow.[14]

1980s: Success with arthouse and independent filmsEdit

In the early '80s, Miramax acquired the rights to two British films of benefit shows filmed for the human rights organization Amnesty International. Working closely with Martin Lewis, the producer of the original films, the Weinstein brothers edited the two films into one movie tailored for the American market. The resulting film was released as The Secret Policeman's Other Ball in May 1982, and it became Miramax's first hit. The movie raised considerable sums for Amnesty International and was credited by Amnesty with having helped to raise its profile in the United States.[12][13]

 
Weinstein at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival

The Weinsteins slowly built upon this success throughout the 1980s with arthouse films that achieved critical attention and modest commercial success. Harvey Weinstein and Miramax gained wider attention in 1988 with the release of Errol Morris' documentary The Thin Blue Line, which detailed the struggle of Randall Adams, a wrongfully convicted inmate sentenced to death row. The publicity that soon surrounded the case resulted in Adams' release and nationwide publicity for Miramax. In 1989, their successful launch release of Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape propelled Miramax to become the most successful independent studio in America.[15]

Also in 1989, Miramax released two arthouse films, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and director Pedro Almodóvar's film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, both of which the MPAA rating board gave an X-rating, effectively stopping nationwide release for these films. Weinstein sued the MPAA over the rating system. His lawsuit was later thrown out, but the MPAA introduced the NC-17 rating two months later.[16]

1990s–2000s: Further success, Disney ownership dealEdit

Miramax continued to grow its library of films and directors until, in 1993, after the success of The Crying Game, Disney offered the Weinsteins $80 million for ownership of Miramax.[17] The brothers agreed to the deal that would cement their Hollywood clout and ensure that they would remain at the head of their company, and the next year, Miramax released their first blockbuster, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, and distributed the popular independent film Clerks.

Miramax won its first Academy Award for Best Picture in 1997 with the victory of The English Patient. (Pulp Fiction was nominated in 1995 but lost to Forrest Gump.)[18] This started a string of critical successes that included Good Will Hunting (1997) and Shakespeare in Love (1998), both of which won several awards, including numerous Academy Awards.[19][20][21][22]

2005–2017: The Weinstein CompanyEdit

The Weinstein brothers left Miramax on September 30, 2005, to form their own production company, The Weinstein Company, with several other media executives, directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and Colin Vaines, who had successfully run the production department at Miramax for 10 years.[23] In February 2011, filmmaker Michael Moore took legal action against the Weinstein brothers, claiming he was owed $2.7 million in profits for his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), which he said had been denied to him by "Hollywood accounting tricks".[24] In February 2012, Moore dropped the lawsuit for an undisclosed settlement.[25]

In the aftermath of the allegations against Weinstein, the company was forced into bankruptcy, with Lantern Entertainment purchasing all assets in 2018. The company was shut down on July 16, 2018 and the website sometime thereafter.

Managerial style and controversiesEdit

While lauded for opening up the independent film market and making it financially viable, Weinstein has been criticized by some for the techniques he has allegedly applied in his business dealings. Peter Biskind's book Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film[12] details criticism of Miramax's release history and editing of arthouse films. For examples, the book states that 54 was originally made as a non-mainstream arthouse film, but after Ryan Phillippe's sudden rise to stardom, Weinstein forced director Mark Christopher to re-edit and reshoot the film to make it more mainstream.

Harvey Weinstein also had a habit of re-editing Asian films and dubbing them in English. Weinstein tried to release the English-dubbed versions of Shaolin Soccer and Hero in the United States theatrically, but their English-dubbed versions scored badly in test screenings in the United States, so Weinstein finally released the films in United States cinemas with their original language.[26][27] Furthermore, Weinstein re-edited 1993 Cannes Palme d'Or winner Farewell My Concubine for U.S. theatrical release; 1993 Cannes jury head Louis Malle was furious. "The film we admired so much in Cannes is not the film seen in this country, which is twenty minutes shorter — but it seems longer, because it doesn't make any sense," Malle complained.[28]

When Harvey Weinstein was charged with handling the U.S. release of Princess Mononoke, director Hayao Miyazaki was reported to have sent him a samurai sword in the mail. Attached to the blade was a stark message: "No cuts." Miyazaki commented on the incident: "Actually, my producer did that. Although I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts. I defeated him."[29] Weinstein has always insisted that such editing was done in the interest of creating the most financially viable film. "I'm not cutting for fun," he said in an interview. "I'm cutting for the shit to work. All my life I served one master: the film. I love movies."[13][30]

Another example cited by Biskind was Phillip Noyce's The Quiet American (2002), whose release Weinstein delayed following the September 11 attacks owing to audience reaction in test screenings to the film's critical tone toward past U.S. foreign policy. After being told the film would go straight to video, Noyce planned to screen the film in Toronto International Film Festival in order to mobilize critics to pressure Miramax to release it theatrically. Weinstein decided to screen the film at the festival only after he was lobbied by star Michael Caine, who threatened to boycott publicity for another film he had made for Miramax. The Quiet American received mostly positive reviews at the festival, and Miramax eventually released the film theatrically, but it was alleged that Miramax did not make a major effort to promote the film for Academy Award consideration, though Caine was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.[12]

Weinstein has also cultivated a reputation for ruthlessness and fits of anger.[31] According to Biskind, Weinstein once put a New York Observer reporter in a headlock while throwing him out of a party. On another occasion, Weinstein excoriated director Julie Taymor and her husband during a disagreement over a test screening of her movie Frida.[13]

In a 2004 newspaper article, in New York magazine, Weinstein appeared somewhat repentant for his often aggressive discussions with directors and producers.[32] However, a Newsweek story on October 13, 2008, criticized Weinstein, who was accused of "hassling Sydney Pollack on his deathbed" about the release of the film The Reader. After Weinstein offered $1 million to charity if the accusation could be proven, journalist Nikki Finke published an email sent by Scott Rudin on August 22 asserting that Weinstein "harassed" Anthony Minghella's widow and a bedridden Pollack until Pollack's family asked him to stop.[33][34]

In September 2009, Weinstein publicly voiced opposition to efforts to extradite Roman Polanski from Switzerland to the U.S. regarding a 1977 charge that he had drugged and raped a 13-year-old, to which Polanski had pleaded guilty before fleeing the country.[35] Weinstein, whose company had distributed Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, a film about the Polanski case, questioned whether Polanski committed any crime,[36] prompting Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to insist that Polanski's guilty plea indicated that his action was a crime, and that several other serious charges were pending.[37]

An analysis of Academy Award acceptance speeches from 1966 to 2016 found that Weinstein had been thanked or praised in 34 speeches—as many times as God, and second only to Steven Spielberg with 43 mentions.[38]

ActivismEdit

Weinstein has been active on issues such as poverty, AIDS, juvenile diabetes, and multiple sclerosis research. Until October 2017,[39] he served on the Board of the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City-based non-profit that targets poverty, and co-chaired one of its annual benefits.[40] He is critical of the lack of gun control laws and universal healthcare in the United States.[41]

Weinstein is a longtime supporter of and contributor to the Democratic Party, including the campaigns of President Barack Obama and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.[42] He supported Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign,[43] and in 2012, he hosted an election fundraiser for Obama at his home in Westport, Connecticut.[44]

FashionEdit

Weinstein was active in the fashion industry. He produced Project Runway, the fashion reality show, making stars of designer Michael Kors, model Heidi Klum and editor Nina Garcia.[45] He was instrumental in the revival of Halston, collaborating with Tamara Mellon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and stylist Rachel Zoe. He licensed the option to revive the Charles James brand. Celebrities were asked to wear Marchesa (his wife's label) at least once if they were in a Weinstein movie. His production companies were frequently involved in fashion-themed movies, including Madonna's W.E., Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter, and Tom Ford's A Single Man. Stars of Weinstein's films appeared on more than a dozen Vogue covers.[46]

Allegations of and charges for sexual crimesEdit

AllegationsEdit

In May 2015, Weinstein arranged for the auction of three lots to be sold at a fundraiser for amfAR at Cannes Film Festival; a package of tickets to a Hollywood film awards event and parties, which included admission to the Academy Awards party, plus a photo op with Bradley Cooper, and two lots for private photo sessions with the legendary fashion photographer Mario Testino. Two weeks before the auction, according to an investigation report, Weinstein made an oral agreement with then board member Kenneth Cole, stating the condition that $600,000 of the money raised would go to the American Repertory Theater (or A.R.T.), a nonprofit playhouse that had done a trial run of “Finding Neverland,” a Broadway musical that Mr. Weinstein produced. This was under the assumption that the lots would raise more than $1.2 million dollars. The unusual part of Weinstein's agreement with the A.R.T. was that the show's 24 investors would be reimbursed if they brought in third-party charitable contributions.

At the May 2015 gala the lots were sold for a total of $909,699, well below the anticipated $1.2 million value that Weinstein predicted. Weinstein still insisted on $600,000 of the funds raised be donated to A.R.T. and demanded they be sent by June 1st, 2015. Kevin Robert Frost, amfAR's C.E.O. stated that “since we can’t actually book the money until the event happens. Since part of his package included the Vanity Fair party next February or March (whenever the Oscars are held), that would ordinarily be the earliest we could pay the money out... The same is true for the Mario Testino package.” on May 29th 2015, Charlie Prince, Weinstein’s vice president for legal affairs, wrote Cole about a new idea proposed by Weinstein: on June 1, Weinstein would wire $600,000 of his own money to amfAR, which would then immediately wire it to A.R.T. The theater would then repay the donations made by Harvey. Once the lots were collected AmFAR would return the $600,000 to Weinstein. Even though the transaction had not been properly vetted by amfAR's auditor, an internal investigation states that at 3:46PM June 1st Weinstein wired $600,000 to AmFAR; 17 minutes later, AmFAR wired $600,000 to A.R.T.

Members of the amfAR board questioned the deal stating that the details were not disclosed to the board or gala attendees. The amfAR’s board of directors suffered an internal struggle as 4 of the 19 board members questioned the deal involving the auction proceeds, saying that the details were not disclosed and that the organization was not protected. Gibson, Dunn & Cutcher, a law firm hired by the amfAR board, reviewed the $600,000 transaction and determined that it was legitimate and lawful.

In February of 2016, lawyer Tom Ajamie, was hired by a special committee of the amfAR board, to investigate the way the arrangement was handled. In his September 2016 report he found that the arrangement endangered the financial integrity of the charity. He concluded that the transaction “exposed amfAR to material risks to its financial integrity and reputation” and that, because Weinstein refused to “disclose any of the material facts” about it, “amfAR had no way of determining whether there was any danger of being involved in an illegal, fraudulent or misleading transaction.” [47][48]

In 2017, after the submitting his report, which recounted 14 unsuccessful attempts to meet with Weinstein, to amfAR; Mr. Ajamie went to Sundance Film Festival where Mr. Weinstein had been a highly important figure. While there he saw Lisa Bloom, who's book "Suspicion Nation" would soon be optioned for the movies by Weinstein. Bloom, "pleaded" with him to meet with Weinstein. He agreed and at their meeting Weinstein, “melted down for two hours,” Ajamie explained, “alternating between accusing me for all his life’s problems and then talking to me about his films and Academy Awards, and why he has sex with thousands of women, and how he can make anyone a star... how there’s a conspiracy against him. " [49]

In early 2017 a federal investigation began when prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan began to examine whether Mr. Weinstein had committed fraud when he arranged for the two auction items. The investigation into this fraud then expanded to include the possibility that Mr. Weinstein had broken federal stalking laws in his dealings with women who had accused him of sexual assault. Those laws forbid crossing state lines to kill, injure, harass or intimidate victims. [50]

In October 2017, The New York Times[51][52] and The New Yorker[3] reported that more than a dozen women accused Weinstein of sexually harassing, assaulting, or raping them. Many other women in the film industry subsequently reported similar experiences with Weinstein,[53][54][55] who denied "any nonconsensual sex". As a result of these accusations, Weinstein was fired from his production company,[56] suspended from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts,[57] expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,[4] resigned from the Directors Guild of America,[58] left by his wife Georgina Chapman,[59] and denounced by leading figures in politics whom he had supported.[60] The Los Angeles Police Department opened a criminal investigation for alleged rape,[61] and New York and London police are investigating other sexual assault allegations.[62]

Ronan Farrow reported in The New Yorker that Weinstein hired British-Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube in order to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against him. Using false identities, private investigators from Black Cube tracked and met journalists and actresses, in particular Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of rape. Weinstein had Black Cube and other agencies "target, or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories."[63][64][65]

The allegations precipitated a wave of "national reckoning" against sexual harassment and assault in the United States,[66] known as the Weinstein effect. Compounded by other sexual harassment cases earlier in the year, the Weinstein reports and subsequent #MeToo hashtag campaign, which encouraged individuals to share their suppressed stories of sexual misconduct, created a cavalcade of allegations across multiple industries that brought about the swift ouster of many men in positions of power both in the United States and, as it spread, around the world.[67][68]

Charges and arrestEdit

On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was charged by New York police with "rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women". On that day, he was arrested after surrendering to police.[6]

Weinstein was later released after $1 million bail was posted on his behalf. He later surrendered his passport and was required to wear an ankle monitor, with travel being restricted to New York and Connecticut. His lawyer Benjamin Brafman said Weinstein would plead not guilty.[69]

Personal lifeEdit

Weinstein has been married twice. In 1987, he married his assistant Eve Chilton; they divorced in 2004.[32][70] They had three daughters: Remy (previously Lily) (born 1995), Emma (born 1998), and Ruth (born 2002).[71] In 2007, he married English fashion designer and actress Georgina Chapman.[72] They have a daughter, India Pearl (born 2010),[73] and a son, Dashiell[74] (born 2013).[75] On October 10, 2017, Chapman announced she was leaving Weinstein after the sexual harassment accusations.[59]

Popular cultureEdit

Both Vanity Fair and The New York Post have announced the completion by the playwright and dramatist David Mamet of the play titled Bitter Wheat to deal principally with the Weinstein controversy concerning his arrest in 2018. As stated in The New York Post in May 2018: "The plan is to open Mamet’s new play in London... Sources say Mamet is wary of another run at Broadway unless his Weinstein play gets a good reception in England. He’s got a shot with Daniel Evans, the young director who’s in talks to do it".[76]

Selected filmographyEdit

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