Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein’s Cronies Are Still Making Big Money in Hollywood

Shortly after Harvey Weinstein was uncovered as a sexual predator in October 2017, New York Lawyer Basic Eric Schneiderman launched a civil rights investigation into The Weinstein Firm. 4 months later — with the purpose of publicly figuring out Weinstein’s enablers and guaranteeing that his survivors could be compensated — the AG’s workplace filed a lawsuit that supplied a blistering evaluation of Weinstein’s interior circle, singling out Harvey’s brother, Bob Weinstein, TWC administration, and the TWC board for “failing to analyze or cease [Harvey Weinstein’s abuse].” 

Nonetheless, within the wake of The Weinstein Firm’s collapse, a lot of Weinstein’s victims really feel cheated out of correct remuneration, whereas a number of of his alleged enablers have walked away from the rubble nearly unscathed. And, because of shady offers that allowed some TWC insiders to quietly pocket initiatives from the corporate’s 250-title library because it was headed for chapter, these insiders might wield extra energy and reap extra revenue in Hollywood at this time than they did earlier than Harvey’s downfall.

Former Weinstein Firm COO David Glasser, for instance, is an government producer of  Yellowstone, essentially the most watched present on linear cable, which is nicely on its strategy to spawning a billion-dollar franchise because of quite a few spin-offs. And, in a plot twist that few have observed, the majority of TWC’s belongings — together with the profitable Scream franchise — handed by means of or landed within the fingers of former TWC board member Tarak Ben Ammar, by means of a collection of offers and transactions that the press largely ignored. Rolling Stone has discovered that Ben Ammar at the moment enjoys a large possession stake in Spyglass Media Group, an organization launched in March 2019 by former MGM CEO Gary Barber and Lantern Leisure — the outfit that finally prevailed in buying TWC’s library for $289 million. (Ben Ammar even demanded $4.8 million in finder charges relationship again to 2011 for initiatives he labored on whereas a TWC board member, which he stated was promised verbally by Harvey Weinstein, in keeping with emails that Rolling Stone has reviewed. A senior TWC officer pushed again on paying him however wrote to a different government that Ben Ammar had endured and “obtained it from Lantern,” a declare Ben Ammar denies.) A press launch on the time of the Spyglass launch famous that “strategic traders embody Eagle Footage,” however by no means talked about that Eagle is a shell firm for Ben Ammar’s Paris-based Quinta Communications. 

Although Spyglass circled and bought the majority of these holdings to Lionsgate for an undisclosed sum — possible a lot greater than what it had paid — it held onto a couple of dozen titles, together with Scream, Brief Circuit, Spy Children, and Undertaking Runway. When the Scream reboot opened final January within the No. 1 spot on the field workplace, en path to a $140 million worldwide haul, Ben Ammar shared within the proceeds. Not solely that, final yr, Bob Weinstein instructed a chapter courtroom that he’s owed $2.3 million in income generated by the film Scream 4. That matter stays unresolved. Bob Weinstein didn’t reply to a request for remark.

“I’m not a foul man,” Ben Ammar tells Rolling Stone. “Regardless of dropping all of my firm’s preliminary funding into TWC and having substantial unpaid debt owed by TWC to my corporations, I stayed on as a TWC board consultant to assist the corporate consummate the sale of considerably all of its belongings.”

“The truth that abusers, and people complicit in that abuse, are nonetheless working and thriving on this trade, whereas the survivors of that abuse wrestle to get work, is totally backwards,” says Weinstein survivor Sarah Ann Masse, who was a part of a class-action swimsuit in opposition to The Weinstein Firm that settled in January 2021 for a comparatively paltry $17 million. The deal was broadly criticized on condition that the legal professionals concerned acquired more cash (round $30 million in charges) than the victims, and no single Weinstein accuser acquired greater than $500,000, in keeping with sources. “[The Weinstein case] is only one of many examples of oldsters profiting off of hurt, facilitating abuse, after which gleefully persevering with on with their enterprise and inventive endeavors,” Masse says, “whereas survivors are ignored, pushed out, and left to wrestle with the long-term impacts of their abuse.”

Masse just isn’t the one one outraged by the fallout of the Weinstein scandal. The truth that, 4 years after Harvey’s reckoning, lots of the males who shielded or did not cease him are nonetheless getting wealthy within the movie and tv enterprise, generally off of the very initiatives that had been a part of the TWC library earlier than it landed in chapter courtroom, has prompted numerous the mogul’s victims to talk out about what they see as a miscarriage of justice. Rolling Stone has talked with a dozen of the ladies harmed by Weinstein’s misconduct and reviewed beforehand undisclosed emails surrounding the corporate’s dismantling. The image that emerges is certainly one of a messy chapter continuing and an trade wanting to proceed working with individuals who propped up a tormentor.

Says Weinstein survivor Louisette Geiss, the lead plaintiff within the class-action swimsuit, “There’s a cause why the survivors obtained so little. Not solely had been we harassed and raped and misplaced jobs, however then we had been abused and raped on the ultimate deal.” 

As Lawyer Basic Schneiderman was finishing up his investigation within the fall of 2017, a heated battle for TWC belongings was in full swing behind the scenes, with Bob Weinstein and different TWC insiders, together with Ben Ammar and David Glasser, doing what they may to extract as many titles as potential from the scrap heap to make sure a safe post-Weinstein future for themselves. 

Sources say the TWC board initially aligned with Tom Barrack – the non-public fairness investor who was senior adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential marketing campaign and served because the chairman of his inaugural committee — who made a transfer to amass the reeling firm for $216 million, a price ticket that was nicely under market worth. In response, the consortium of banks holding TWC debt balked, as did the corporate’s feminine workers, who vocally opposed getting out from below Harvey Weinstein solely to be owned by a Trump pal. The Barrack deal fell aside, leaving the corporate one step nearer to chapter.

Tarak Ben Ammar during a photocall to present his movie "American skin" as part of the 45th Deauville US Film Festival, on September 9, 2019 in Deauville. (Sipa via AP Images)

Former Weinstein Firm board member Tarak Ben Ammar in 2019.

Jacques Benaroch/SIPA/AP Photos

Two months later, in mid-December 2017, Bob Weinstein shot off a collection of emails to billionaire grocery store magnate Ron Burkle, whose crew was placing the ending touches on a proposal to purchase TWC for $500 million in a deal that may put aside $75 million for survivors of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harassment. In alternate for consenting to the bid, Bob Weinstein had his personal calls for. Referring to the agency of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which was representing the TWC board, he wrote in an electronic mail to Burkle, “Mainly the boards [sic] legal professionals have mentioned a method, that they suppose they will efficiently take away only a few of the Dimension titles from the supply to deal with sure of our wants. U is not going to be adversely affected in any respect, however it would pave the best way o [sic] a profitable transaction.” He then listed 16 movie and TV initiatives that he needed to extricate so he might begin his personal new firm, together with Paddington 3 (“That is my child. If Warners picks up a sequel in two or three years we get 2.5 million {dollars}, not loads.”), Scream, and Spy Children (“They’re my legacy.”). He additionally pushed for a $34 million payout, sources say. (“The potential out-of-court sale to the Ron Burkles [sic]’ firm (Yucaipa Firms) didn’t occur,” Cravath legal professional Paul Zumbro instructed Rolling Stone by way of electronic mail when requested about Bob Weinstein’s electronic mail to Burkle. “The Weinstein Firm’s belongings had been bought to Lantern Capital in a chapter courtroom supervised and accredited sale.”)

As had occurred with Barrack, the Burkle deal disintegrated, and Lantern stepped in to buy the prevailing TWC library. However Burkle nonetheless ended up profiting off of TWC cast-offs as a financier behind what’s arguably essentially the most profitable title extracted from the Weinstein Firm scrap heap: the Paramount Community collection Yellowstone. Created by Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan and starring Kevin Costner, the Montana-set Western was in manufacturing on its first season when Harvey Weinstein was uncovered. It has since develop into a TV juggernaut, with a fifth season within the works, in addition to spin-offs like 1883 and a complete interconnected universe of prequels and sequels, together with the collection 6666

Yellowstone has fashioned the bedrock of 101 Studios, an organization co-founded in January 2019 by former TWC COO David Glasser — who was generally described because the so-called third Weinstein brother — with $300 million {dollars} in funding from a handful of traders, together with Burkle. The yr prior, Schneiderman had alleged in his lawsuit that Glasser (referred to within the lawsuit solely by his title, COO) had failed to analyze Harvey Weinstein’s conduct or to guard TWC’s feminine staff. In feedback made after submitting the swimsuit, Schneiderman known as out Glasser by title, stating that he had supervised the human sources division of TWC, but didn’t cease Harvey’s “harassment and abuse, though he was in command of dealing with dozens of surprising complaints.” An legal professional for Glasser notes that his consumer wasn’t a board member and says Glasser “voluntarily met with the AG who finally determined to not deliver any claims by any means in opposition to him.” 

Some particulars of the Yellowstone asset switch have raised eyebrows in Hollywood. In accordance with a 2018 story in Selection, Paramount’s mum or dad firm, Viacom, superior The Weinstein Firm $20 million in April 2017 to start manufacturing on the present. However across the time of Harvey Weinstein’s reckoning, TWC defaulted on its funds, and Paramount took management of the property. Viacom, which had little curiosity in backing the costly collection, determined to flip it to a brand new investor, in keeping with trade publication Puck, and located the very best bidder in Glasser and Burkle’s 101 Studios (their supply: $20 million for Yellowstone and all of Sheridan’s initiatives). 

What stays opaque is precisely when Paramount took over the Yellowstone rights — and whether or not, below chapter regulation, the property needs to be returned to the TWC library in order that its income may be factored right into a victims’ compensation fund. (In accordance with filings made as not too long ago as January 2019, an organization known as WTV Yellowstone SPV, LLC was listed amongst Weinstein Co. belongings.) That chance has prompted a number of collectors and survivors with open claims in opposition to Weinstein to push for re-examination of the transaction, with a number of of them telling Rolling Stone that they’re contemplating pursuing authorized motion to attempt to deliver Yellowstone again into the pool of chapter belongings. The timing is ripe, on condition that no resolution has been made but as to how any cash remaining within the chapter property shall be distributed past the $17 million class-action settlement. 

Nick Iezza, a associate at Spiwak & Iezza, which makes a speciality of creditor rights, says Yellowstone ought to obtain a cautious inspection. “If it was owned by Weinstein previous to the chapter, crimson flags ought to have gone up now that Yellowstone has develop into a success,” he says. “The trustee within the chapter ought to completely be trying to claw this asset again into the property for use for the good thing about all of the collectors.”

One main TWC creditor provides that if the income do return into the belief, “it may gain advantage each single sufferer and each single firm, each single creditor, proportionately to regardless of the judges determine there.”

Glasser’s rep says the transaction was authorized and made on the open market.

Yellowstone isn’t the one TWC venture that wound up with members of Weinstein’s interior circle. The 2019 horror movie Polaroid, one of many titles that Bob Weinstein demanded because the studio was in freefall, prompted authorized wrangling over who really owned it. First Republic Financial institution alleged that Spyglass/Lantern by no means correctly acquired the film a couple of high-school loner who wields a spooky classic digicam. Regardless, Bob Weinstein acquired an executive-producing credit score and a monetary stake within the movie two years after he was named within the lawsuit following Schneiderman’s investigation as somebody who was “repeatedly introduced with credible proof of [his brother’s] sexual harassment of TWC staff and sources to facilitate sexual exercise with third events, amidst allegations that HW had engaged in illegal sexual conduct.” (Present New York Lawyer Basic Letitia James declined to pursue the swimsuit after Scheiderman resigned over allegations of bodily abuse in opposition to girls; Schneiderman has denied these claims.)  

“Individuals had been taken care of or folks took care of themselves proper earlier than they orchestrated The Weinstein Firm’s strategic sale and subsequent implosion, which in hindsight appears chaotic by design,” says Weinstein survivor Melissa Thompson. “It’s unlawful, unethical, immoral, and they need to be ashamed of themselves.”

Kevin Costner in ‘Yellowstone,’ a former Weinstein Firm property.

James Minchin/Paramount Community

The outcry comes at a time when others within the Weinstein orbit are taking warmth for his or her potential complicity in his legal habits. (Weinstein is at the moment serving a 23-year sentence in a New York jail after being convicted in 2020 of first diploma sexual assault and third diploma rape; he has additionally been indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles, with the following listening to in that case set for Might 4.) Earlier this month, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., instructed Fox Enterprise that Disney exhibited a scarcity of “morals” throughout its possession of TWC’s precursor Miramax from 1993 to 2005. Likewise, some Weinstein survivors are furious that former Miramax legal professional Steve Hutensky now enjoys a profitable profession as a movie and TV producer (Hulu’s 9 Good Strangers) regardless of his involvement in two binding nondisclosure agreements that silenced a pair of Harvey Weinstein’s victims for almost twenty years.

Steve Hutensky shrouded “the evil that Harvey perpetuated in opposition to girls for many years,” says Weinstein survivor Rowena Chiu, who claims Weinstein tried to rape her on a enterprise journey in 1998 and that she settled with the mogul throughout secret arbitration negotiations that very same yr, throughout which Hutensky was current. “He actively defended it. He completely was a part of the silencing. His initials are on each web page. His blood was on every web page.”

Irwin Reiter, who was a senior government at Miramax on the time and interacted each day with Disney brass on varied issues, says the key settlements with Chiu and Zelda Perkins laid the groundwork for the abuse that adopted. “If Steve Hutensky had instructed me what the hell occurred with Rowena, I’d have instructed Disney, and sport over. What number of girls would have been spared?”

Hutensky declined remark.

Likewise, Weinstein’s longtime legal professional, David Boies, continues to work on high-profile movie initiatives, similar to Netflix’s 2021 Melissa McCarthy movie The Starling and the 2018 documentary Gained’t You Be My Neighbor? As The New York Occasions has reported, only one yr into Boies’ work with Weinstein, in 2002, the lawyer “talked the New Yorker out of publishing allegations of sexual harassment” in opposition to his consumer, regardless of understanding there had been settlements with some accusers. (Boies maintained, as per his consumer, that the encounters had been consensual.) Boies’ fame additionally took a success when Ronan Farrow reported in The New Yorker that Boies had enlisted non-public company intel agency Black Dice to do aggressive opposition analysis on accuser Rose McGowan.

“I don’t consider the Black Dice contract is pretty characterised as partaking them to do ‘aggressive opposition analysis,’” Boies says. “The contract handled solely a single accuser who had been public in her accusations, which Harvey Weinstein vigorously denied, and the aim of the contract was to seek out out if there have been details that may disprove these accusations.”

However Boies additionally performed a task in maintaining the TWC board in line, usually pushing again when Weinstein’s habits was questioned. In an August 2015 letter to board member Lance Maerov, who had complained concerning the mogul’s erratic habits and wild company spending, together with a $27,000 tip to the crew of a yacht, Boies wrote, “Your exaggerated, and a bit hysterical ‘threats of bodily violence in opposition to me’ additional illustrates my level. In case you consider that Harvey was actually threatening or aspiring to assault you bodily, that’s nearly as good a sign of your paranoia regarding Harvey as I can consider.” He additional referred to Maerov’s declare as coming right down to “private animus.” 

“It’s not shocking, however so miserable, to see that individuals who coated up for Weinstein are having success in a post-MeToo period,” says Melissa Silverstein, founding father of the advocacy web site Girls and Hollywood and creative director of the Athena Movie Pageant. “Not solely are they not paying a worth, however they appear to be thriving. Hollywood desires to present folks a go. Nevertheless it’s a reminder the MeToo period continues to be with us and at all times shall be.”

Although members of Weinstein’s interior circle and TWC insiders declare they knew little to nothing of Weinstein’s abuse, the Geiss-led class-action swimsuit, which was filed in December 2017, claimed in any other case. As summarized by the choose in that case, the plaintiffs alleged that the TWC board and administration, amongst others, “knew of and/or participated in” settlements with a few of Weinstein’s victims in addition to negotiations surrounding Weinstein’s employment contracts “which made Weinstein partially answerable for future settlements or judgments regarding sexual misconduct,” and facilitated Weinstein’s assaults. The swimsuit maintained, for instance, that each Glasser and Ben Ammar had been conscious of an NYPD sting to acquire a confession from Weinstein after he assaulted mannequin Ambra Gutierrez in 2015, in addition to the follow-up settlement with the mannequin.

Ron Burkle (seen right here at an arts gala in Beverly Hills in 2013) is a financier behind 101 Studios, co-founded by former Weinstein Firm COO David Glasser.

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Photos

The category-action swimsuit, which echoes different civil complaints which were filed by Weinstein victims, additionally claimed that board members had been conscious of a 2015 memo written by then-TWC worker Lauren O’Connor, who was involved about her boss’ habits with many actresses he invited to common conferences in varied lodge rooms around the globe. That memo, which grew to become a key aspect of the New York Occasions exposé that introduced Weinstein down in October 2017, cited quite a few incidents of Weinstein harassing or coercing weak girls into sexual exercise. Glasser seems to have completed the best factor within the case of the O’Connor memo, forwarding it to a member of the board — a degree that’s bolstered by the New York Lawyer Basic’s grievance, which alleged: “By early 2015, sure company executives at TWC who had acquired and dealt with quite a few claims of misconduct from TWC staff, together with the COO, grew to become so involved about HW’s misconduct in direction of girls, in addition to his expenditure of firm sources on improper objects, that they determined they wanted to inform an unbiased member of the Board concerning the misconduct.” However, the lawsuit alleged that in keeping with board minutes, “the Board ratified HW’s new employment contract unanimously.”

A separate swimsuit filed in 2017 by actress Wedil David presents a surprising window into how the board addressed Weinstein’s sample of predatory habits. The swimsuit outlined Weinstein’s 2015 employment contract, which assigned a greenback determine to any future assaults he would possibly commit. In accordance with the phrases, Weinstein could be required to pay $250,000 for the primary occasion of “misconduct,” $500,000 for a second occasion, $750,000 for a 3rd occasion, and $1,000,000 for every occasion thereafter. David was allegedly raped by Weinstein on the Montage Lodge in Beverly Hills months after that contract was accredited by Bob Weinstein and board members together with Ben Ammar. 

In each the Geiss and David instances, the board members had been later dismissed from the fits. Geiss, for one, was disgusted by Decide Alvin Hellerstein’s response to how the all-male board negotiated financial penalties for sexual assaults. “They didn’t hearth him as a result of [Harvey Weinstein] was making gifted films, and so they had been making some huge cash for the corporate,” Hellerstein stated throughout a listening to. Hellerstein finally concluded that TWC and its officers and administrators named in Geiss’ grievance had not benefited from Weinstein’s sexual misconduct itself, and dropped them from the case. 

That rankled lots of the plaintiffs and their attorneys. “We had steadfastly rejected the proposed settlement in chapter as a result of it let Harvey Weinstein’s enablers off scot free, and it took away victims’ rights to proceed to have the ability to maintain [the board] accountable,” David’s legal professional, Doug Wigdor, tells Rolling Stone. “Sadly, the courtroom finally dominated that the victims don’t have a alternative.”

Provides Geiss, “If the board and officers had simply completed their job, which is to out a rapist, none of us could be speaking about it proper now. We labored so laborious for four-and-a-half years to be heard and make a distinction, however then, sadly, a collection of male judges determined to present Harvey’s largest enablers a free go.”

In the meantime, the Ben Ammar-backed Spyglass continues to push out content material that had as soon as been a part of the TWC fold — together with a Hellraiser reboot headed to Hulu later this yr and a Spy Children film in improvement at Netflix — whereas Yellowstone continues to dominate the airwaves.

If the TWC asset diaspora has left a foul style within the mouths of victims, Masse, for one, is taking corrective motion on her personal. The actress-screenwriter has launched the Rent Survivors initiative. It’s supposed to supply a course correction for Hollywood’s latest monitor report of working with enablers and ignoring the victims.

“The truth that abusers, and people complicit within the abuse, are sometimes protected as a result of perceived monetary worth they carry to the desk is shortsighted,” says Masse. “The authorized and monetary implications of defending and selling abusers is excessive, whereas hiring survivors and people who are dedicated to fairness, justice, and inclusion is a successful guess.”



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