Sex harassment scandal

Stars, aides drawn to comply with Weinstein

NEW YORK • Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein built his complicity machine out of the witting, the unwitting and those in between.

In the run-up before allegations of his methodical abuse of women were exposed in October, he pulled on all the levers of his carefully constructed apparatus.

He gathered ammunition, sometimes helped by the editor of the National Enquirer, who dispatched reporters to find information that could undermine accusers. He turned to old allies, asking a partner in Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of Hollywood's premier talent shops, to broker a meeting with a CAA client, Mr Ronan Farrow, who was reporting on Weinstein.

He tried to dispense favours - while seeking to stop actress Rose McGowan from writing in a memoir he had sexually assaulted her, he tried to arrange a US$50,000 (S$67,400) payment to her former manager and throw new business to a literary agent advising the actress.

His final, failed round of manipulations shows how he operated for more than three decades - by trying to turn others into instruments or shields for his behaviour, according to nearly 200 interviews, internal company records and previously undisclosed e-mail.

His brother and partner, Bob, participated in pay-offs to women as far back as 1990. Some low-level assistants compiled "bibles" that included hints on facilitating encounters with women and were required to procure his penile injections for erectile dysfunction.

Agents sent actresses to meet him alone in hotels and advised them to stay quiet when things went wrong. At CAA, for example, at least eight talent agents were told that Weinstein had harassed or menaced female clients, but agents there continued to arrange private meetings.

Even Mr Nick Wechsler, a talent manager at another firm who confronted Weinstein about McGowan, felt he had to maintain business ties with him. "Sometimes he was the only game in town."

Weinstein held off press scrutiny with threats and enticements. Some journalists negotiated book and movie deals with him even as they were assigned to cover him.

He was so close to Mr David J. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc, which owns the Enquirer, that he was known in the tabloid industry as an untouchable "FOP", or "friend of Pecker". That status was shared by a chosen few, including United States President Donald Trump.

Minutes before The New York Times published the first allegations about Weinstein in October, he called the reporters who wrote it. He said he had ways of knowing who had cooperated with the investigation and the means to undermine it. "I am a man who has great resources," he had warned.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Stars, aides drawn to comply with Weinstein'. Print Edition | Subscribe