We’ve all heard the stories. We’ve all read the blind items. We think we know what Harvey Weinstein does to women. But entertainment reporters live in fear – fear of being sued, fear of losing access, fear of Harvey’s wrath. Which is why those stories and blind items are so hard to nail down, why it’s so difficult to get people on the record, named sources confirming all of those rumors and innuendos and Hollywood lore. But maybe, post-Bill Cosby, the worm is beginning to turn. According to an exclusive from the Hollywood Reporter, the New York Times has devoted significant time and resources to report some kind of exposé on Weinstein. Apparently, Harvey is scared enough to have hired “an army of attorneys and crisis managers” to deal with the upcoming NYT report(s).
Is The New York Times about to expose damaging information on Harvey Weinstein? The Weinstein Co. film and television mogul has enlisted an army of attorneys and crisis managers in recent weeks and has unleashed them on the Times over a planned story on his personal behavior, multiple sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes battle tell The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s unclear what the Times is planning to report, but sources say the newspaper has been calling dozens of current and former employees and associates of Weinstein, going as far back as the executive’s days running Miramax more than two decades ago. The reporting team is also said to have procured internal human resources documents during the investigation.
After the initial publication of this story, Weinstein offered this statement to THR: “The story sounds so good, I want to buy the movie rights.”
And the Times isn’t the only media outlet aggressively pursuing a story on Weinstein. NBC News correspondent Ronan Farrow also has been digging into the mogul’s past for approximately a year, and Farrow is now said to be working with The New Yorker magazine on a “lengthy” piece. Reps for Weinstein and the Times declined to comment. A spokesperson for The New Yorker told THR, “We don’t comment on pieces we haven’t published.”
Weinstein, 65, is a polarizing figure in Hollywood. A master movie producer and marketer and a regular at the Oscars, he also is famously brash and controlling. Down and Dirty Pictures, a 2004 book on Weinstein by author Peter Biskind, described Weinstein’s behavior toward employees and others in his orbit as bullying and called him an artist of “anger.”
Weinstein, who runs the New York-based Weinstein Co., is no stranger to litigation, but in this case he has lawyered up in an unusually significant way.
In addition to his usual attorney David Boies, Weinstein also has engaged Lisa Bloom, a Woodland Hills, California-based lawyer and television personality specializing in sexual harassment cases (and the daughter of Gloria Allred), as well as Charles Harder, the Beverly Hills-based litigator who represented Hulk Hogan in the invasion of privacy trial that brought down the Gawker website. Other lawyers also are said to be advising the mogul. “Harvey Weinstein is obviously excellent at assembling a legal team,” said Bloom in a statement. Several crisis PR consultants also are involved, according to sources. The subject of the media outlets’ reporting is said to be Weinstein himself and not the business operation of The Weinstein Co. Whether either or both publications ultimately publish a story in the face of an onslaught of pushback from Weinstein’s lawyers remains to be seen.
The idea that Ronan Farrow is digging around is… interesting. Ronan sees himself as an advocate-journalist, and when Ronan wrote that scathing op-ed about Woody Allen and how journalists treat him, Ronan gave it to the Hollywood Reporter. So, there’s a connection there. Will the New Yorker or the New York Times have the better coverage? The NY Times sees itself as too classy to engage with some of the dirtiest and grossest stories out there about Harvey, so I would say the New Yorker might have better coverage overall, but a NYT exposé would do the most damage, because more people would read it. Something to keep in mind though: it’s more than possible that Harvey Weinstein sues and threatens his way into getting both publications to refuse to publish these exposés.
Update: The NYT dropped their story today. I’ve covered it here.
Photos courtesy of WENN.