NBC UNDER FIRE FOR PASSING ON WEINSTEIN SEX-HARASSMENT EXPOSÉ
Film industry’s history with ‘casting couch’ dates back nearly century
So Harvey Weinstein now reportedly is to be fleeing to Europe for therapy for his alleged habit of sexually harassing and assaulting young women, and the A-listers who profited from his movie business are left to say they are shocked, yes, shocked, at his unacceptable behavior.
But is that really the truth?
Likely not for all.
“The truth is that Harvey Weinstein was able to get away with what he did for so long because Hollywood, led by two-faced Ms. [Meryl] Streep, doesn’t really give a d— about powerful men abusing young women,” London Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan charged.
“That’s why they cheer (Roman) Polanski and still finance and star in his movies. That’s why Woody Allen is feted as a beloved genius despite running off with his own adopted daughter,” he wrote.
“And it’s why Casey Affleck was given the Oscar for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars despite settling sexual harassment cases with two female work colleagues, cinematographer Magdalana Gorka and producer Amanda White, who accused him of bragging of his sexual exploits, propositioning and grabbing White, sliding into Gorka’s bed uninvited and instructing a crew member to display his penis.”
Morgan had just released a diatribe against Streep for supporting Polanski, who in the 1970s was accused of an attack on a 13-year-old girl: “rape by use of drugs, perversions, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.”
He struck a deal with prosecutors, but when word came out that he might not escape with probation, Polanski “fled the country to France … [and] has never returned, and has avoided visiting any countries since that may extradite him back to the USA.”
Despite that, Hollywood, with its long history of “casting couch” escapades, cheers Polanski regularly, including in 2003 when he was named best director for “The Pianist.”
Claim: NBC rejected report
NBC News contributor Ronan Farrow claims his network passed on the Weinstein story by insisting it wasn’t ready for publication.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Tuesday night, Farrow was asked why the story ran in the New Yorker instead of on the network.
“You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details of that story,” Farrow said. “I’m not going to comment on any news organization’s story that they did or didn’t run.”
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim made the decision to reject the report, the Daily Beast reported.
“Oppenheim is a screenwriter who has often told industry colleagues that he’s likely to one day return to Hollywood and resume that career. He wrote ‘Jackie,’ a film starring Natalie Portman, and was attached to multiple other projects during his years in Los Angeles. At this writing, NBC and CAA have not responded to queries about whether The Weinstein Company was involved with any of Oppenheim’s projects.”
Through a statement, Oppenheimer denied there was anything untoward about the decision.
“The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us … we didn’t feel we had all the elements that we needed to air it.”
There’s no doubt that sex assault by powerful men on young girls has been present in Hollywood not just for years, or even decades, but generations.
Back in 1921, Fatty Arbuckle was at a party at which actress Virginia Rappe suffered injuries from which she later died.
She had accused Arbuckle of raping her, but he was acquitted of a manslaughter charge.
The Daily Mail noted Errol Flynn had an affair with Beverly Aadland that started when she was 15.
The paper cited Joan Collins claim that she lost out on the lead role in Cleopatra because she wouldn’t sleep with the studio head.
“I had tested for ‘Cleopatra’ twice and was the front-runner,” Collins recalled. “He took me into his office and said, ‘You really want this part?’ And I said, ‘Yes. I really do.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘then all you have to do is be nice to me.’ It was a wonderful euphemism in the Sixties for you know what. But I couldn’t do that. In fact, I was rather wimpish, burst into tears and rushed out of his office.’ The role went to Elizabeth Taylor.”
The report noted Shirley Temple claimed in her memoir, “Child Star,” an MGM producer with an “adventuresome casting couch” “unzipped his trousers and exposed himself to her during their first meeting in 1940. She was 12.”
She reportedly laughed.
Other accounts of such behavior have come from Marilyn Monroe, who described Hollywood as “an overcrowded brothel.”
Then, there is the still-developing case of “America’s Dad,” Bill Cosby.
He’s facing retrial on claims he drugged a molested a former university worker at his home in 2004. He insists the encounter was consensual, but the Daily Mail reported “dozens of additional accusers have come forward, including 13 women whom prosecutors want to call as witnesses to show that they were drugged and violated in similar fashion.”
A post on Twitchy, the news site that monitors Twitter, commented that Weinstein’s behavior apparently was “a running gag” in the entertainment industry.
“Many of the people associated with Harvey Weinstein over the years are expressing surprise at news of all the allegations against the Hollywood mogul, but comments from others also indicate his behavior was well-known in industry circles. Seth McFarland made a joke in 2013 at an Oscars event suggesting Hollywood knew the truth about Weinstein, and one year before that, the NBC comedy ’30 Rock’ featured this joke about Weinstein”:
In the episode, Jane Krakowski jokes that she turned down sex with Weinstein three times out of five.
The Weinstein case moved from under the table to the headlines when the New York Times reported Friday that eight women, including actress Ashley Judd, had settled sexual harassment claims against him. The New Yorker reported Tuesday that two women have claimed Weinstein raped them.
Tamron Hall, a journalist, said she got to know Weinstein a year ago, and when she found out about the claims, she called him.
She told the Huffington Post: “It’s a woman’s worst nightmare to be in a situation where you believe someone more powerful has control over your life. I immediately thought about the women who have suffered in silence and were paralyzed by fear; fear that I’ve seen with domestic violence survivors; fear that I’ve seen when I interviewed women who were raped on their college campuses.”
Weinstein appeared to admit some of the claims, stating in response to the New York Times article: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Audio from an NYPD sting operation also was published of him trying to persuade a woman to enter his hotel room after apparently touching her inappropriately the day before.
Rolling Stone reported many in Hollywood have “condemned Weinstein’s alleged actions in no uncertain terms.”
But some critics also were aware of “rumors” long ago.
“George Clooney, whose breakout role was in the Miramax-produced From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), said he’d heard rumors about Weinstein’s behavior over the years but had never witnessed it. ‘It’s indefensible. That’s the only word you can start with. Harvey’s admitted to it, and it’s indefensible,’” the report said.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who benefited from his financial donations to their campaigns, waited days before they condemned Weinstein’s alleged actions.
But even after his apparent admissions, Donna Karan and Lindsay Lohan came to his defense.
“To say that Weinstein has been influential in the film industry over the past few decades is an understatement. The former concert promoter established Miramax in 1979 with his brother, Bob; it went on to become arguably the most influential film company of the Nineties, turning out countless classics and award winners including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Clerks, The Crying Game, Gangs of New York and Good Will Hunting. Their subsequent venture, the Weinstein Company, went on to produce the likes of Django Unchained, The King’s Speech, Silver Linings Playbook, Blue Valentine and Carol. And the mogul’s influence stretches far beyond film to television, magazine publishing, Broadway productions and even political activism,” Rolling Stone said.
“There are few corners of the culture that Weinstein’s tentacles haven’t reached. But his power and fame seem to have both enabled and masked from the public eye a long-spanning history of misconduct against women. According to The Cut, some 29 women so far have shared accounts of harassment and abuse, ranging from A-listers (Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow) to foreign film luminaries (Asia Argento, Emma de Caunes) to office assistants and up-and-comers. Even more disturbingly, according to the exposés, Weinstein’s actions appear to have been abetted and normalized by executives, assistants and producers in his employ,” the report said.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow claimed Weinstein sexually harassed her in 1996.
“Her then-boyfriend, Brad Pitt, came to her defense and confronted the producer, but she was intimidated against speaking about it publicly for fear of jeopardizing her career,” the report said.
Deadline reported: “Of the allegations leveled against Weinstein, the rape claims could prove ground for action. Though it is not clear if the assault occurred in the Empire State. Rape is a felony in New York State and has no statute of limitations. There are currently no active investigations in either NYC or LA into the incidents alleged in the explosive New Yorker piece that was published. … But if there were, a conviction could see Weinstein behind bars for up to two decades.”
Documentary maker Amy J. Berg even released “An Open Secret” on the topic of sexual misbehavior in Hollywood just a few years ago.
The film is a look into the issue of underage sexual abuse in the Hollywood entertainment industry. It follows the stories of five former child actors whose lives are disrupted by predators.
While still not released to home video, the film played briefly in Seattle, Denver, New York and Los Angeles in 2015, and was described by the Hollywood Reporter as offering a “sober look at accusations that lend themselves to sensationalism.”
Concluded Morgan: “Harvey Weinstein has witnessed all this at first hand, and doubtless calculated that nobody in this town, and his industry, really cares about sexual harassment or abuse. In fact, they reward, applaud and enrich people for it.
“And the really dreadful part of this horrendous saga is that until now, he was right.”