Oscar winning Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, famed for “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction,” announced Thursday he’s taking a leave of absence in the wake of a New York Times article detailing three decades of alleged sexual wrongdoing with often unwilling aspiring starlets.
“I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” Weinstein said in his announcement. “That was the culture then. I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.
“I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed. I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”
Weinstein, 65, has often championed liberal and feminist causes, and gained famed for films such as “Shakespeare in Love,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Crying Game” and Sex, Lies and Videotape.”
A New York Times investigation documents three decades of sex harassment allegations, and Weinstein fessed up — to a point — telling the Times: “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.”
However, the Times story also stated that many women “who worked with Mr. Weinstein said they never experienced sexual harassment or knew of anyone who did, and recalled him as a boss who gave them valuable opportunities at young ages. Some described long and satisfying careers with him, praising him as a mentor and advocate.
“But in interviews, some of the former employees who said they had troubling experiences with Mr. Weinstein asked a common question: How could allegations repeating the same pattern — young women, a powerful male producer, even some of the same hotels — have accumulated for almost three decades?”
One of the ironic side notes of the story is the fact he’s being advised by celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom, the daughter of Gloria Allred.
Bloom was quoted by the Times as saying: “He denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
According to the Times, Weinstein has reached at least eight legal settlements with women over allegations of sexual harassment, with his accusers including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.
In his statement, Weinstein said he has been working with Woodland Hills-based civil rights attorney Bloom over the past year as part of his effort “to learn about myself and conquer my demons.”
“I’ve brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on,” he said. “I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more.”
He said he is hoping for a second chance, “but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it.”
“I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them.”
Weinstein, who won an Oscar as a co-producer of best-picture winner “Shakespeare in Love,” noted that he began working a year ago to create a $5 million foundation to provide scholarships for female directors at USC.
“It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her,” he said.
Bloom said she has had many conversations with Weinstein over the past year, and while he “denies many of the accusations as patently false,” she explained to him that given his position of power, “some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”
“As a women’s rights advocate, I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me,” Bloom said. “I have told him that times have changed, it is 2017 and he needs to evolve to a higher standard. I have found Harvey to be refreshingly candid and receptive to my message. He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways.”
Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein founded the Miramax film-production house in the late 1970s. The company produced hit films including “Pulp Fiction,” “The Thin Blue Line,” “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” “The Crying Game” and “Clerks.”
The brothers sold the company to Disney in 1993 but continued to run it until 2005, when they left to create The Weinstein Company. The studio’s credits include “The King’s Speech,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Butler” and “The Imitation Game.”
— Staff and wire reports