The Hollywood Conspiracy of Silence

It’s nearly impossible to believe the big stars who say they didn’t know about Harvey Weinstein’s revolting acts.

Accepting the 2005 Oscar he won for gaining a few pounds and being tortured in Syriana, George Clooney made the case for Hollywood as America’s moral conscience:

.. How can Clooney, Meryl Streep, and their peers continue to claim America’s moral high ground when they simply shrugged at what was going on with their pal Harvey Weinstein?

.. Pitt had once threatened to give Weinstein a “Missouri whooping” after the producer sexually harassed his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1990s.

.. Another Ocean’s buddy, Matt Damon, personally called up Sharon Waxman, then a New York Times reporter, to intercede against a story that would have been unflattering to Weinstein.

.. Did Damon also never talk to Pitt on the set of the Ocean’s movies? Or on the set of The Departed, which Pitt produced and Damon starred in? Or maybe in between takes on Happy Feet 2, in which Pitt and Damon played a zany pair of gay crustaceans?

.. Entertainment reporters, tending to be both a) in awe of their subjects and b) unschooled in Washington-style spot-the-loophole weasel talk, haven’t quite nailed down what either of them knew.

.. “I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors, and out of public view.” “I’ve never seen any of this behavior — ever,” Clooney told The Daily Beast.

.. Of course Damon and Clooney never saw the misbehavior. When Weinstein wants a tête-à-tête with Ashley Judd in his bathrobe, Damon and Clooney aren’t going to be invited along. The question is, did they know what Weinstein was up to?

.. “I had no idea that it had gone to the level of having to pay off eight women for their silence, and that these women were threatened and victimized.” The comment seems to be limited to “these women” — the eight who were paid off. Like a politician, Clooney is answering a question nobody asked. Did he know Weinstein was inviting actresses to business meetings that turned into bedroom meetings that turned into sexual overtures with career implications?

.. Could news of such revolting acts really never have reached Clooney’s ears? It seems more likely that Clooney was part of a conspiracy of silence.

.. Movie Clooney is very interested in exposing the pernicious actions of oil companies (Syriana), chemical companies (Michael Clayton), TV hucksters (Money Monster), McCarthyism (Good Night, and Good Luck), and the masterminds of the first Gulf War (Three Kings). Real-life Clooney plugs his ears when people in Hollywood gossip about a subject that has evidently been a hot topic of conversation since Pauly Shore was considered a movie star. Weinstein’s habits were such an open secret they were joked about on 30 Rock and at an Oscar press conference.

.. Power, to Streep, is someone like Weinstein, someone who could cast her or not cast her, possibly even influence the hiring decisions of others. And Weinstein’s skill in campaigning for Oscars is unparalleled. He was widely credited for winning her a third Oscar for The Iron Lady, notably by Streep herself, who said in her acceptance speech, “I want to thank God — Harvey Weinstein.”

.. The message could hardly be more clear to them that Weinsteinian behavior is simply the price that must be paid.

.. “Evans wanted to be an actress, and although she had heard rumors about Weinstein she let him have her number.” Would Streep have us believe that aspiring actresses still in college knew more about industry players than she did?

.. Think of all of the hundreds of actresses, and thousands of other industry people, Streep has worked with over the years. None of this ever came up?

.. For Clooney or Damon or Pitt or Streep to pick up a phone and call a reporter to speak about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior all these years would have taken a minimal amount of guts. It could have cost them gigs, or awards. The Weinstein debacle has implicated more or less everyone in Hollywood who knew about the abhorrent behavior and remained silent, which must mean just about everyone in Hollywood.

From now on the leading Hollywood personalities deserve nothing but derision when they pretend to be courageous truth-tellers. They are neither.

When Women Took the Wheel

A reflection on the place of women in Hollywood through the lens of a breakthrough feminist film.

I used to go in with my fists up. I’d go, ‘I’m tough, I’m tough, I’m tough.’ Eventually I had to learn that that is the worst thing; that is what men really hate.”

.. A collaboration developed, in which Ridley and Callie went page by page through the script for weeks, making sure he understood the rage and that all the emotion was real. He called them “daily lectures.” He was dubious about all the hideous male behavior in the script and asked her if these things ever happened to her. “The point is, it doesn’t matter if it happened to me,” she answered. “These things happen all the time, and it could have been me and it could be any of the women you have ever come into contact with.”

..  He argued for humor throughout, as he felt it was critical to the overall “ride” of the film. “He thought the men in the audience should eat some crow, but he wanted them to enjoy the taste.

.. The movie became almost as famous for the casting of the hitchhiker—Brad Pitt in his first film role.

.. “Nothing in the script indicated that the intimate story needed such an opulent stage,” Ms. Aikman writes. “He brought that to it,” Susan tells her. “We filled in the emotions and the people.” Once she saw the finished film, she understood: “Because Ridley put us in this heroic setting, the film had the impact it did,” but that wasn’t so apparent at the time.

.. It was assumed that if you were interested in the look of the film you couldn’t also care about the scenes. This dichotomy of course is false.

.. How did they even get to that point? The Look vs. The Characters? That is not a boy vs. girl thing. That is a writer vs. director thing. And it’s ironic because what makes the movie so perfect is the blending of the two.


Five or Six Things I Didn’t Know About Brad Pitt, by Marlon James

Musings from the Man Booker-winning author after his first
meeting with one of the biggest — and nicest — stars on the planet.

“I’ve gone into areas of third-world countries where people have suffered the most, but those people always seem to have the biggest laugh,” he says. As a Jamaican native who has witnessed quite a few third-world missions, I tell him that sometimes our biggest laugh is directed at foreign do-gooders who really have no idea how to fix our problems. “I’ve been one of those at times,” he admits. “But you’ve got to start somewhere. You start with your best intentions, understanding the world as you do. And then you get in and you see that it’s much more complicated than you could possibly imagine. Our failings in foreign policy have always been to think that we can place our ideas on another culture, while not really understanding the other culture.”

.. Someone once famously said that he is a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body

.. We have this great line in ‘The Big Short,’ ” he says, referring to the Oscar-winning film about the global financial crisis of 2008, which he produced. “When things are going wrong and we can’t find the reason for it, we just start creating enemies.” I mention that when creating those enemies, we often look no further than what’s right in front of us. Gays, for example. “Or illegal immigrants,” he says.

.. “You gotta understand,” he says, “that it’s also in our DNA. Most Americans don’t have time to watch CNN and Fox and Al Jazeera. They’re trying to make the rent, get the kids fed, they’re tired when they get home and they want to forget about everything. And so suddenly when this voice comes in — and it doesn’t have to be a voice of substance — saying he’s fed up with all of this, that’s the part that hooks into the DNA.”

.. “What does he even mean, take our country back? Would someone please explain that to me?”

.. Gibson movies typically do one thing really well: violence. “Oh, extremely well,” Pitt says. “ ‘Apocalypto’ is a great film.”

.. The bad thing about playing an interview slow and loose is that you’re never sure how to end it.