Sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein

Why so quiet, SNL?

Saturday Night Live and other late-night television comedy shows rapped for their silence as movie producer Harvey Weinstein is sacked

Harvey Weinstein has threatened to sue for defamation, saying that many of the sexual harassment claims were false.
Harvey Weinstein has threatened to sue for defamation, saying that many of the sexual harassment claims were false.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Even as Harvey Weinstein was sacked by the company he helped found, late-night show hosts also were lambasted for keeping quiet about the sexual-harassment storm surrounding the movie producer.

On Sunday, the board of directors of the Weinstein Co. fired Weinstein, four days after a New York Times investigation uncovered accusations of rampant sexual harassment and at least eight settlements paid to women.

It was an escalation from Friday, when a third of the all-male board resigned, and the members who remained announced that Weinstein would take a leave of absence while an outside lawyer investigated the accusations.

In an interview on Sunday, Mr Lance Maerov, one of the four remaining board members, said it had been brought to their attention that Weinstein violated the company's code of conduct.

But he would not specify what the violation was.

He added that Weinstein was notified by e-mail on Sunday night of his termination from the company.

The sexual harassment accusations uncovered by The Times stretched back decades.

Actress Ashley Judd recalled him summoning her to his hotel room in the late 1990s for a work meeting where he asked if he could massage her and if she would watch him shower.

Other complaints came from former employees of the Weinstein Co. and its predecessor, Miramax.

In 2015, a junior executive filed a searing memo with top executives at the company accusing the movie producer of rampant misconduct.

In response to the Times report, Weinstein, 65, said: "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain and I sincerely apologise for it."

But he also threatened to sue for defamation, and his legal adviser Lisa Bloom said he "denies many of the accusations as patently false".

On Saturday, Ms Bloom resigned.

For the past week, many women in Hollywood, frustrated with an industry that seems to perpetually sexualise and mistreat women, were watching closely to see where the revelations would lead.

"I see this as a tipping point," Ms Jenni Konner, executive producer of HBO series Girls, said on Sunday.

"This is the moment we look back on and say, 'That's when it all started to change.'"

The firing of Weinstein by his own company, she noted, "is going to scare any man in Hollywood using his power for anything but making movies and television".

The storm engulfing Weinstein has also hit TV's late-night comedy shows.

The story seemed to parallel those of other powerful men confronted with accounts of sexual misdeeds, including television host Bill O'Reilly, television executive Roger Ailes and United States President Donald Trump - all of whom were widely pilloried in the monologues of the late-night hosts and on shows such as Saturday Night Live.

Yet since Thursday, when The New York Times published its expose on Weinstein, most of the late-night shows have avoided the matter altogether.

The omission seemed especially glaring on the weekend's instalment of Saturday Night Live, a show with a history of responding rapidly to news events.

The absence of any commentary about the movie producer opened up SNL to rebukes from conservative critics who said the show was covering up for a prominent liberal.

The President's eldest son Donald Trump Jr suggested in a Twitter post that SNL had one standard for people like his father and another for people such as Weinstein.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'Why so quiet, SNL?'. Print Edition | Subscribe