Feminist attorney quits being adviser to Harvey Weinstein

Ms Lisa Bloom (left) tweeted her resignation as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein (above).
Ms Lisa Bloom (above) tweeted her resignation as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ms Lisa Bloom (left) tweeted her resignation as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein (above).
Ms Lisa Bloom tweeted her resignation as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein (above).PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Known for advocating on behalf of women, Lisa Bloom's appearance on the team of the movie mogul accused of harassment was a surprise

WASHINGTON • Feminist lawyer Lisa Bloom, who had been serving as an adviser to embattled movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, abruptly resigned from that role last Saturday, suggesting that he may be on the verge of leaving the studio he founded.

She announced her resignation in a tweet: "I have resigned as an adviser to Harvey Weinstein. My understanding is that Mr Weinstein and his board are moving towards an agreement."

Weinstein took a leave of absence from the Weinstein Co, the film production company he co-founded with his brother Bob Weinstein, after The New York Times published a devastating report last Thursday detailing decades of alleged harassment of actresses and underlings.

The story generated a massive wave of criticism of Weinstein, a prominent Democratic Party donor and the producer behind acclaimed films such as The English Patient (1996) and Shakespeare In Love (1998).

Ms Bloom did not detail her reasons for leaving her advisory role. She did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

She also did not specify the nature of the agreement Weinstein is reportedly crafting with his company's board, but there have been suggestions that he could extend the length of his unspecified leave or depart from the company altogether.

  • The rise and fall of Weinstein

  • The professional trajectory of Harvey Weinstein, the famed and feared Hollywood mogul, has been as volatile as his personality. Here is a timeline of his ups and downs:

    1979: Weinstein and Bob, his brother, co-found Miramax, which would help bring art-house cinema into the mainstream. The studio broke through with a trio of hits: Sex, Lies, And Videotape (1989); My Left Foot (1989), which won Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar for Best Actor; and Cinema Paradiso (1988), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

    1993: Disney bought the studio for between US$60 million and $80 million. Miramax continued its success, financing the 1994 hit Pulp Fiction, which went on to be one of the most influential films of the decade.

    1992 to 2003: For 11 years, Miramax saw at least one of its films nominated for an Oscar each year, winning Best Picture for several of them, including The English Patient (1996), Shakespeare In Love (1998) and Chicago (2002).

    2005: Disney parted ways with the Weinsteins after arguments over the studio's ballooning movie budgets and disagreements over the degree of their autonomy. Harvey and Bob started a new independent studio, the Weinstein Company.

    2005 to 2009: The Weinstein Company released some 70 films, many of which flopped.

    2011: The year marked Harvey Weinstein's resurgence. The King's Speech was nominated for 12 Oscars, taking home the Best Picture trophy.

    2012: Weinstein cleaned up at the Golden Globes for The Iron Lady, My Week With Marilyn and The Artist, which would win Best Picture at the Oscars. Meryl Streep paid him homage during the Globes with her "God" quote.

    2017: In its investigative story about sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, The New York Times reported that he reached at least eight settlements with women over the years.

    WASHINGTON POST

Mr Lanny Davis, another adviser to Weinstein, is also no longer representing him, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr Davis, a lawyer who has served as a crisis-management consultant for clients such as former United States president Bill Clinton and former New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez, declined to comment or elaborate on the reason for his departure.

But the two men had disagreed over how to handle the sexual harassment allegations, with Mr Davis advising a more conciliatory tone and approach than Weinstein seemed willing to adopt.

Former cable television host Bloom's emergence as a prominent member of Weinstein's advisory team this week was a surprise. The 56-year-old lawyer made her reputation advocating on behalf of women, including those who were accusers in sexual-harassment cases.

In April, she advised three women who alleged that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had harassed them when they worked with him at the network. Her frequent TV appearances fanned the backlash against O'Reilly, whose alleged conduct was also the subject of a New York Times report. Fox eventually fired O'Reilly, ending his career as perhaps the most popular commentator on cable news.

In an interview with The Washington Post last Thursday, Ms Bloom said she had been counselling Weinstein over the past year about his behaviour towards women and was not serving in a strictly legal role.

"I'm not on a side," she said. "This is not a side... I'm on the side of moving the ball forward for women's rights. There are a lot of ways to do that. I speak about it, I appear on TV, I write books about it. I saw this as a unique opportunity to advise a high-profile guy how to respond. And he listened."

She said she would not be part of a potential defamation lawsuit against The New York Times. Weinstein said he intends to sue the newspaper for US$50 million (S$68.5 million). A Times spokesman responded to the lawsuit threat last Friday by saying that "Mr Weinstein and his lawyer... have not pointed to any errors or challenged any facts in our story".

Ms Bloom is the daughter of another famed feminist lawyer, Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault, as well as others who have accused United States President Donald Trump of groping them.

Ms Allred was one of the people who raised an eyebrow about Ms Bloom's defence of Weinstein. "While I would not represent Mr Weinstein, I would consider representing anyone who accused Mr Weinstein of sexual harassment, even if it meant that my daughter was the opposing counsel," she said last Thursday in a statement.

In response, Ms Bloom said she saw no contradiction between her position and her mother's. "My mother only represents plaintiffs in employment-discrimination cases," she said. "I have a broader law practice open to other kinds of cases. She gets to make her choices and I make mine."

Ms Bloom said Weinstein hired her about a year ago after he and rapper Jay Z jointly bought the TV rights to her 2014 book, Suspicion Nation, about the Trayvon Martin case. She said she began speaking with him at that time about long-standing rumours in Hollywood about his behaviour.

"I don't hold back," she said, "and I didn't. Harvey can take it and he did. He said, 'I've been stupid. I'm a dinosaur and I've got to change.' I thought, 'Perhaps I can do something to make a difference.'"

WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Feminist attorney quits being adviser to Harvey Weinstein'. Print Edition | Subscribe