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.
Nearly 80 years later, that aroma of perversion and maladroit du seigneur clings to Hollywood. Now we are inundated with grotesque tales of Harvey Weinstein pulling out his penis to show to appalled and frightened young women, enlisting the pimping help of agents and assistants to have actresses delivered to his hotel rooms, where he pestered the women to watch him shower or give him a massage or engage in intimate acts.
“The ill will towards him for getting away with it all for so long has unleashed something so primitive,” a prominent male Hollywood producer told me. “If people could rip him apart, they would
.. a man trusted by the Obamas to have their daughter intern at his company.
.. Often the actresses scrambled, trying to figure out how to get out of the room without having their futures shredded by the vindictive satyr, who also threatened to destroy actresses who balked at wearing dresses designed by his wife Georgina Chapman’s fashion label on the red carpet... Min recalled attending the $400,000 speech Barack Obama made as an ex-president to an A&E Networks advertising upfront at the Pierre hotel in New York in April.
.. “There probably needs to be some introspection about how certain people who engage in horrendous mistreatment of women can co-opt the media,” she mused. “The fundamental predatory nature of Hollywood is young, attractive people — largely females — putting themselves in front of men to be judged and appraised and chosen.
.. In Hollywood, unlike at other Fortune 500 companies, the one-on-one meetings take place in hotel suites and bars. It’s an exploitative and oddly personal process.”
.. Harvey had proven time and again he could get you the Oscar that could make your career. It’s the difference between being in the reboot of ‘Saved by the Bell’ or getting 15 million for your next role.”
Hollywood is a culture that runs on fear. And it is not like other professions, one top entertainment executive said, because “no one comes with a résumé. It’s about what you look like and who sent you.”
.. There was resentment against Weinstein in Hollywood, not only for the stories bubbling around about women, but the way he humiliated men who worked with him. He even berated a 15-year-old girl at a screening because her parents supported a political candidate he opposed.
.. Like Trump, that other self-professed predator, there were complaints that in business deals he stiffed people on bills (advertising and public relations payments), and he had a reputation for lying, cheating, taking advantage, acting like a thug. Many in the film community felt he besmirched the Oscars by turning it into a marketing race rather than a contest of quality.
till, she insists, she and her brothers didn’t attain their positions in their father’s company “by any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion.”
.. To answer this question, Ivanka employs an audacious strategy: all of her advantages have actually been handicaps, she says. When she was appointed to the board of directors at Trump Entertainment Resorts, at age twenty-five, the situation was “stacked all the way against me.” Her last name, her looks, her youth, her privilege have all colluded to make people underestimate her. And when she is overestimated—when people believe that she has an “inherent understanding of all things related to real estate and finance,” because her father is Donald Trump—this, too, “can be a big disadvantage.”
.. Ivanka compares herself to a runner positioned on the outside track, whose head start at the beginning is just an illusion.
.. “Did I have an edge, getting started in business?” she asks. “No question. But get over it. And read on.”
.. she has marketed herself as a cross between Gwyneth Paltrow and Sheryl Sandberg.
.. her jewelry company sent out a press release about the bracelet Ivanka wore on “60 Minutes” after her father’s election; she was photographed meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister the week after the election; and she sat in on a call with the Argentinian President. She will have, and presumably use, every opportunity to enrich the family company, of which she remains an executive vice-president. This is the definition of corruption, but as laundered through Ivanka—who’s been tweeting about banana bread and posting photos of her children—it won’t look so bad.
.. She offers a story about being forced, by her mother, to fly coach to the south of France as the moment she realized she needed to make her own money.
.. “My friend Andrew Cuomo, New York’s great attorney general, tells me that e-mail is the key to prosecuting just about everyone these days.”