Judgment Day: Harvey Weinstein Scandal
Posted: October 18, 2017
Could Finally Probably Won’t Change Hollywood’s Culture of Secrecy
Brent Lang and Elizabeth Wagmeister report: Harvey Weinstein’s implosion has been cathartic for Lauren Sivan, one of the dozens of women who have come forward in recent days alleging that the once-celebrated mogul was a serial sexual harasser and abuser. It’s a moment of justice and public condemnation that seemed all but impossible to imagine mere weeks ago when Weinstein enjoyed a position as one of the most powerful figures in media, a skilled operator whose connections stretched from Capitol Hill to Wall Street and whose sense of entitlement knew no bounds.
“You reap what you sow,” says Sivan. “I know that he believed for years that he was untouchable, and a lot of people helped him be untouchable.”Weinstein’s precipitous fall has been stunning, if not a long time coming. He’s been fired from his own company, ostracized by his longtime friends and collaborators in the entertainment industry, transformed from power player to butt of late-night talk-show jokes, ditched by his wife and abandoned by the Democratic political leaders who once coveted his endorsement. The Weinstein Co. is weighing a sale to Colony Capital.
Along with Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and L.A. Reid, Weinstein is a sign that the old methods that stars and top executives used to cover up their sins isn’t working. Their praetorian guards of lawyers and spin-makers, their penchant for paying hush money to victims and making them sign draconian nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from going public, can no longer buy silence.
Hollywood’s veil of secrecy has been pierced, and such complicity and enabling may no longer be tolerated in a company town that has long protected its own.
“We are shining a bright light on aggressors and powerful offenders as an example to every other employee out there,” says TV commentator Wendy Walsh, one of O’Reilly’s accusers.
As the chorus of accusers grows daily and as Weinstein finds himself isolated and abandoned by the A-list stars and directors he once claimed as friends, the conversation in Hollywood is pointing to a major shift. The hope in the industry is that the alleged abhorrent behavior by Weinstein and the other perpetrators will trigger some genuine soul-searching across the entertainment business and beyond.
Instead of simply inspiring big names in the industry to release anodyne statements that are light on substance and heavy on synonyms for deplorable, there’s an urge to have a deeper conversation about how to improve the climate and culture in Hollywood so whistle-blowers are supported and predators aren’t rewarded with corner offices, private jets and a license to operate with impunity.
“Pretty much all anyone can talk about is ‘How can we prevent this situation from happening again?’” says Mary Parent, vice chairman of worldwide production at Legendary Entertainment. “We all know the past can’t be changed. All we can do is change the future.”
But is an industry that gave convicted rapist Roman Polanski an Oscar, lionized and named buildings for sexual predators like MGM founder Louis B. Mayer and looked the other way as Weinstein’s behavior with women became an open secret, ready to change? Will the latest abuse scandal — the worst in modern-day movie business history — force studios to embrace a zero-tolerance environment where it will no longer be possible for powerful, privileged men to prey on actresses and underlings and not be held accountable for their bad behavior? Studio executives and filmmakers believe the litany of accusers who are coming out of the shadows could represent an inflection point in Hollywood … (read more)