Academy can’t be ‘inquisitorial,’ memo says

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‘Game of Thrones’ star Lena Headey joined the growing number of women accusing disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein of inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.
USA TODAY

In the two weeks since the New York Times and The New Yorker published separate investigative reports documenting allegations of rape and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein dating back decades, the disgraced movie mogul continues to be in the news.

Here’s the latest fallout from the Weinstein scandal.

The Academy sent internal memo about Weinstein

In an internal memo for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy President John Bailey shared a message about “our intention to be a strong voice in changing the culture of sexual exploitation in the movie business, already common well before the founding of the Academy 90 years ago.”

In the email, which USA TODAY obtained after it leaked with the subject line “In the Matter of H. Weinstein … and Beyond,” Bailey wrote, “It is up to all of us Academy members to more clearly define for ourselves the parameters of proper conduct, of sexual equality, and respect for our fellow artists throughout our industry. The Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court, but we can be part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers.”

Lena Headey shares Weinstein story

In the latest batch of boldfaced names describing revolting or criminal encounters with Harvey Weinstein, British actress Lena Headey — Cersei in Game of Thrones — posted a series of tweets Tuesday describing meetings in which she felt menaced by the fallen movie mogul.

Headey, 44, who plays the bloodthirsty, power-mad, incestuous Queen Cersei in the always-menacing HBO series, added her voice to the continuing what-Harvey-did-to-me campaign by famous women in Hollywood.

Headey said she first met Weinstein at the Venice Film Festival when her movie, The Brothers Grimm, was showing, which would have been 2005. (As an aside, she said she was subjected to “endless bullying” by director Terry Gilliam.) 

She said he asked her to take a walk with him down to the water, then made “some suggestive comment, a gesture,” which she laughed off.

“I was genuinely shocked, I remember thinking this has got to be some kind of joke, I said something like, Oh come on mate?!?! It’d be like kissing my dad!” she wrote. 

But she never appeared in any other Miramax film, she added. 

Years later, she met him again in Los Angeles at breakfast. He tried to ask her about her love life, she shifted the conversation to something less personal. He asked her up to his room to show her some scripts and walked her to the elevator. 

“The energy shifted, my whole body went into high alert,” she wrote. She told him she wasn’t interested in anything other than work and not to think she got into the elevator with him for any other reason. “I don’t know what possessed me to speak out at that moment, only that I had such a strong sense of don’t come near me.”

He was silent and “furious” in the elevator after she spoke; she said she felt “powerless” as he walked her to the room with his hand on her back. He got angrier when they reached the door and the key wouldn’t work, she said. He walked her back to the elevator and through the hotel to the valet, “grabbing and holding tightly to the back of my arm.”

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“He paid for my car and whispered in my ear, Don’t tell anyone about this, not your manager, not your agent,” she wrote. “I got in my car and cried.”

Weinstein resigns from board of his company, even though it already fired him

The Weinstein Company board, staggering from the scandal, possibly for sale, threatened with a possible avalanche of lawsuits and shedding board members, shed another one on Tuesday: Harvey Weinstein himself.

Although the board of directors had fired him as co-chairman when the scandal first broke, he still had a seat on the board until Tuesday, when Weinstein officially resigned, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly.

Weinstein has contended his firing was illegal. He continues to own 22% of the company’s stock.

Representatives from the company did not immediately respond to requests for  comment about the resignation. The company has been scrambling to distance itself from Weinstein, including possibly changing its name, as the mounting turmoil from the scandal threatened to engulf it.

Larry Hutcher, a corporate attorney with experience handling corporate “divorces,” says that even though Weinstein was fired as an officer, that did not automatically end his right to serve on the board.  

“I believe Weinstein knew that if he did not resign the other directors could by a majority vote to terminate him as a board member based upon his conduct,” Hutcher says. “Thus even though he could challenge the validity of the firing he realized it would be a battle he could not win to remain on the board at this time.”

Hutcher said Weinstein likely acted to preserve his right to contest his firing, and if he ever wins on that point, he could seek a return to his board seat.

Molly Ringwald has a different Weinstein story

In a column posted Tuesday on The New Yorker‘s website, the former teen star describes Weinstein less as a sexual predator and more as a slob and a philistine, a producer in the late ’80s who was still a newbie but already an ill-mannered bully, difficult to work with and dangerous to cross. 

“Thankfully, I wasn’t cajoled into a taxi, nor did I have to turn down giving or getting a massage,” she wrote. “I was lucky. Or perhaps it was because, at that moment in time, I was the one with more power.”

At age 20, she had a role in one of his first movies, Loser Takes All, based on a Graham Greene novel. She says he was rude and testy with British members of the cast, and eventually grabbed the movie away from the director, rewrote much of it, renamed it and recut it. He even redid the poster, sticking her head onto someone else’s body, dressed in a form-fitting, 1950s-style pinup bathing suit.  She would never have posed for it, she said. 

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“I was always a little mystified that Harvey had the reputation as a great tastemaker when he seemed so noticeably lacking in taste himself,” she wrote. “But he did have a knack for hiring people who had it, and I figured that’s what passes for taste in Hollywood.”

While her story was different, she said she knew plenty of “Harveys of my own” over the years, enough to recognize the stories of other accusers. While still a teen, she was groped by adult men, even on set, she wrote. 

“When I was 13, a 50-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection. When I was 14, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set,” she wrote.

Ringwald, 49, said she could go on “but I fear it would get very repetitive,” she wrote. “I never talked about these things publicly because, as a woman, it has always felt like I may as well have been talking about the weather.

“Stories like these have never been taken seriously. Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected President.”

Michelle Yeoh would have used martial arts on Weinstein if he tried anything   

Michelle Yeoh said Tuesday she was aware of Weinstein’s reputation as a bully but he never sexually harassed her and would have felt her wrath if he had.

“I knew he was a bully and not always honorable,” she told the Associated Press in Hong Kong. “I wasn’t exposed to this side of him, otherwise he would have experienced the full effect of years of martial arts training.”

The Malaysian star added her voice to the chorus speaking out about the sexual misconduct scandal that has taken down Weinstein, who produced or distributed many of Yeoh’s films and TV shows.

“Any man who treats women with such disrespect and contempt should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Yeoh, who stars in the new TV series Star Trek: Discovery.

The Weinstein Co. was one of the producers of last year’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, a sequel in which Yeoh reprised her role from the original blockbuster martial arts film. The company also produced the Netflix series Marco Polo, a period epic in which Yeoh had a role.

Weinstein’s previous company, Miramax, distributed Yeoh’s earlier films. He was also a big donor to amfAR, an AIDS charity for which Yeoh, 55, is an ambassador.

New York DA slammed for Weinstein decision, suspends accepting political donations

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office declined to prosecute Weinstein on a groping charge in 2015 – a decision that looks troubling in retrospect because, like most elected district attorneys, he accepted political donations from defense attorneys, including Weinstein’s. 

Now Vance says he has temporarily stopped accepting donations and asked an outside ethics group to review how his campaign handles contributions and potential conflicts.

Vance’s donor list includes Elkan Abramowitz, hired by Weinstein to successfully defend him from an allegation that he molested a 22-year-old Italian model during a business meeting. Prosecutors in the sex-crimes unit determined they couldn’t prove the woman’s allegations, even though police had recorded Weinstein apologizing after she accused him of grabbing her breast.

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Government watchdog groups have long criticized the practice of prosecutors taking political money from defense lawyers because it raises doubts about the fairness of the criminal justice system. 

“I’ve never allowed someone’s wealth, power, race, or campaign contributions to influence my decisions,” Vance wrote in The New York Daily News. “Over the past few days, I’ve learned that it’s not enough for me to have confidence in my independence from donors. The people of New York deserve to be confident about it as well.”

Other Hollywood moguls weigh in on ‘monster’ Weinstein

Media titan Barry Diller, speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ D.Live technology conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Tuesday, said the Weinstein scandal will mark a dividing line in the culture: “Before and after Harvey.”

And by the way, Weinstein’s reputation is toast, Diller said. He “is not going to be known for anything other than this. This is a hard demarcation line.”

On Monday, showbiz executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who also spoke at the conference, denounced Weinstein, but said a systemic “casting couch” problem has long prevailed Hollywood, the Journal reported.

Katzenberg goes way back with Weinstein: He was chairman of Walt Disney Co. when the company bought Weinstein’s Miramax studio in 1993.

“The casting couch has been in Hollywood from the beginning,” Katzenberg said. “The complicity around the acceptance of it and silence about it is the crime. Harvey Weinstein, make no mistake about it, he is a monster.”

But he said Weinstein is “not a lone actor.” Asked if other men in Hollywood abused women, Mr. Katzenberg said “100%.”

“There’s a pack of wolves,” he said, although there also are moguls with “great integrity,” such as Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg, he said.

Katzenberg said he never saw Weinstein behave in the way more than 30 women so far, including major stars such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have described. 

“Literally not a single time had Harvey ever been abusive to somebody in my presence,” Katzenberg said. “That’s why I said there were two Harvey’s. Somehow or another his behavior was masked from me by him.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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