Weinstein Battles A Crisis Of His Own Making: Harassment Allegations
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
All right. So he has been kicked out of the Producers Guild. He's been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And he was given the boot by his own company. And now Harvey Weinstein is under investigation by police for sexual assault. With dozens of women coming forward, how was the movie mogul able to avoid public scrutiny for decades? It seems Weinstein actively worked behind the scenes to avoid scrutiny for years. The indie movie mogul blended charm and menace when dealing with the media. Here's NPR's David Folkenflik.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Harvey Weinstein has been battling a crisis of his own making, facing accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
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UNIDENTIFIED PAPARAZZO: Harvey, are you doing OK?
FOLKENFLIK: Paparazzi for the gossip site TMZ spoke with Weinstein outside his daughter's home.
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HAVEY WEINSTEIN: Guys, I'm not doing OK...
UNIDENTIFIED PAPARAZZO: You're not?
WEINSTEIN: ...But I'm trying. I got to get help, guys. You know what? We all make mistakes - second chance, I hope. OK?
FOLKENFLIK: Few people knew how to work flatter or intimidate the press better than Harvey Weinstein. Kim Masters is editor-at-large at The Hollywood Reporter and host of KCRW's THE BUSINESS. She says Weinstein was exhausting. He once threatened to sue her over a story he didn't like.
KIM MASTERS, BYLINE: At an event last year for "Lion," Nicole Kidman approached him. And he said, this is Kim Masters. She's been trying to get me for years. And I said very pointedly, I still am.
FOLKENFLIK: And yet earlier this year, Masters says, Weinstein offered her a book deal.
MASTERS: I cut him off. And I said, Harvey, you know, this is not appropriate. I covered you in the past, and I hope to cover you in the future.
FOLKENFLIK: Weinstein was a tastemaker battling big studios. He depended on favorable news coverage to fuel awards and ticket sales. Weinstein relied on carrots and sticks to get it.
JANICE MIN: Let's not forget how journalists are often treated. You are - if you are in a world of entertainment, you're often on the other side of the red carpet.
FOLKENFLIK: Janice Min is the former editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter.
MIN: There's a velvet rope. There's a whole army of people who are telling you no, no, no, no, no. And then here's Harvey Weinstein who can bypass that whole publicity system and say, hey, do you want to come over here and meet Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow? Oh, you know, come with me to the Oscar party. I'm not inviting everyone.
FOLKENFLIK: As her reporters focused on Weinstein's finances, Min was summoned to the Peninsula Hotel.
MIN: So I go and I meet him at the bar. And he says to me when we sit down right out of the gate, I bet you'd like to be a judge on "Project Runway." Wouldn't you like to be a judge on "Project Runway?" And I think I probably just laughed right there in his face.
FOLKENFLIK: Min says he then berated her. Colleagues fared even worse.
MIN: I could sometimes hear Harvey yelling through Matt's phone through my wall in my office completely bellicose - sometimes out of his mind - threatening the craziest things, threatening that he was going to call our owner or he was going to put us out of business.
FOLKENFLIK: Weinstein curried favor with tabloids by leaking juicy gossip. Ronan Farrow's expose about Weinstein ran in The New Yorker. He recently spoke to NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
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RONAN FARROW: Multiple actresses talked about his ability to manipulate the news cycle and negative items being planted. You know, these were women in many cases who worked in and on his films. And they depended on him for their income.
FOLKENFLIK: Paula Froelich was deputy editor of Page Six. She had a book contract with Weinstein but says she turned down his deal to option it for television and movies.
PAULA FROELICH: He did offer people in the press, not just access, but there were a lot of people who had development deals. They worked with him. He was a source of some of their paychecks. So I guess that would be the carrot.
FOLKENFLIK: Froehlich once witnessed Weinstein assault a reporter at a book party, and she wrote a piece on it. Weinstein's publicist interceded.
FROELICH: My boss at the time said, hey, maybe it's not really a story. I said if you don't run this, I quit. We did end up running it, and it didn't look like anything I put in.
FOLKENFLIK: The Weinstein story has created a ripple effect in Hollywood. Yesterday the head of Amazon Studios resigned over sexual harassment allegations. The accusations were first reported by Kim Masters. The Amazon studio chief had several projects with Harvey Weinstein. Had Masters accepted his book deal, she wouldn't have been able to report on the scandal surrounding either man - David Folkenflik, NPR News.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the introduction to this story, we incorrectly say that Harvey Weinstein has been kicked out of the Producers Guild. In fact, while the guild's board has voted unanimously to begin termination proceedings, Weinstein will be given an opportunity to respond before the final determination is made in November.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.