Harvey Weinstein, the mercurial film producer who helped define independent film in the 1990s, has hired what the Hollywood Reporter describes as “an army of attorneys and crisis managers” as he braces for upcoming stories about him in both the New York Times and the New Yorker. Neither the Times nor the New Yorker offered any details about their planned stories, but according to Variety, both will deal with Weinstein’s workplace behavior, including allegations of a sexual nature. Variety also reports that the stories are believed to include women who went on-the-record about his actions.
To this point, Weinstein’s team reportedly includes Lisa Bloom—Gloria Allred’s daughter—who specializes in sexual harassment cases, although if she has a sideline defending those who are accused of sexual harassment, she doesn’t play it up on her website, which describes her practice this way:
Lisa has taken on David-and-Goliath battles on behalf of the vulnerable against some of the most powerful forces in our culture, including … many celebrities and prominent figures in business and politics in sexual harassment cases, including a sitting Los Angeles judge.
Weinstein has also reportedly hired Charles Harder, who was Hulk Hogan’s lawyer in the Peter-Theil-funded lawsuit that ended Gawker. On the media side, Variety reports that investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey are reporting the story for the New York Times. Twohey previously reported on controversial dealings between Weinstein and anti-AIDS charity amfAR. Meanwhile, Ronan Farrow—who was outspoken about the sexual abuse allegations against his father, Woody Allen—is reporting for the New Yorker.*
Weinstein’s temper has always been legendary, and widely reported on—David Carr profiled him in 2001, and John Cook listed some of his most notorious blow-ups for Gawker back in 2012—but stories of sexual misconduct have rarely moved beyond rumor. In 2015, Weinstein was questioned by the NYPD after model Ambra Battilana accused him of groping her; when that story broke, writer Jennifer Senior—then at New York magazine, now at the New York Times—tweeted that Weinstein’s behavior was “a despicable open secret,” prompting Jordan Sargent at Gawker to tally up the rumors in a piece asking readers to “tell us what you know.” After the Hollywood Reporter broke the news of Weinstein’s crisis team, he contacted them with a statement: “That story sounds so good I want to buy the movie rights.”
Weinstein’s response landed with a thud on Twitter, where actress Rose McGowan had the most deadpan response:
I want to buy the movie rights— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 4, 2017
McGowan starred in the Miramax-distributed Planet Terror, directed by her one-time fiancé Robert Rodriguez, and tweeted back in 2016 that she hadn’t reported a rape “because my ex sold our movie to my rapist for distribution.” But she wasn’t the only celebrity to allude to Weinstein’s statement on Twitter: writer, director, and actress Asia Argento replied directly to McGowan:
I own the movie rights.— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) October 5, 2017
This seems like the kind of story that might require a bigger crisis team, which might be why Variety reports that Weinstein is trying to bring Lanny Davis on board. But even if Weinstein succeeds in bagging Davis, that’s not necessarily a good sign: As Tim Marchman observed at Deadspin back when Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder hired Davis to defend the team’s name, “A man so badly fucked that he’ll hire Lanny Davis is a man who’s finished.”
*Correction, Oct. 5, 2017: This post originally misidentified Ronan Farrow as Rowan Farrow.