Harvey Weinstein has been forced out of the independent film company he co-founded and catapulted to Oscar glory, felled by a mushrooming sexual harassment scandal that has hobbled his status as a media mogul and left his future in Hollywood in jeopardy. The Weinstein Company’s board of directors has voted to remove Weinstein from the studio, leaving control of the company in the hands of Weinstein’s brother, Bob Weinstein, and chief operating officer David Glasser, it was announced in a statement from the company Sunday.
“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company – Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar – have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately.”
Weinstein has been rocked by a devastating New York Times report documenting decades of legal settlements stemming from sexual harassment allegations leveled by former employees and associates, as well as accusations of improper sexual advances from actress Ashley Judd. The allegations extend back to Weinstein’s days running Miramax, an independent film studio that was then owned by the Walt Disney Co.
As the crisis worsened, Weinstein has lost key allies. His attorney Lisa Bloom resigned on Saturday, as did his advisor Lanny Davis, a former White House hand to Bill Clinton. One third of the all-male board quit on Friday, including billionaire investors Marc Lasry and Dirk Ziff, and Technicolor executive Tim Sarnoff. Weinstein was said to be furiously resisting efforts to force him out permanently.
He has also struggled with forming a coherent response, veering from contrition to combativeness. An initial statement to the Times acknowledged past mistakes, while pledging to reform himself. Shortly after, Weinstein’s attorney Charles Harder said he was preparing to sue the paper, accusing it of making “false and defamatory statements.” Weinstein also said he was taking a leave of absence, only to continue appearing at work. The board later forced him to take an indefinite leave on Friday.
Bob Weinstein and Glasser have been pushing for Weinstein to leave the company, believing he threatened the studio’s ability to continue to attract top talent and to release film and television shows. Weinstein has maintained that he can weather the crisis and re-emerge.
Weinstein has been a major force in independent film for decades, helping bring art house movies such as “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Crying Game” to mass audiences, and propelling the likes of “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love” to commercial success and awards glory.
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