Harvey Weinstein, the brash outsider from Queens who upended Hollywood, has all the time favored to think about himself as an underdog. So there might have been no prouder second for him than the night time of March 21, 1999, when he stood on the stage on the Academy Awards accepting the perfect image Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love,” which had gained in a shocking upset over Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Personal Ryan.”
As his fellow producer Donna Gigliotti thanked him for “having the center, the braveness, the dedication to make this image,” Weinstein beamed, soaking within the cheers from the gang. He was on the peak of his energy. Operating Miramax together with his brother Bob, he might flip artwork-home fare into mainstream hits, mint award nominations at an unprecedented clip and make or break careers. A 2015 survey of almost 1,four hundred Oscar acceptance speeches by the web site Vocativ discovered that Weinstein was thanked extra ceaselessly than God.
But a few of the applause that night time got here from individuals who secretly — or not-so-secretly — rooted towards him. Many in Hollywood felt the victory for “Shakespeare in Love” was as a lot a credit score to Weinstein’s pricey and bitterly fought Oscar marketing campaign as to the movie’s deserves.
And a few simply discovered him usually loathsome. Weinstein was, and is, as well-known for his mood as for his style. He would commonly scale back individuals to tears together with his blistering, belittling tantrums, unleashing torrents of profanity-laced verbal abuse — and the occasional ashtray or headlock — on no matter unfortunate soul turned the goal of his wrath. His status for re-chopping administrators’ films was so firmly established, it earned him the nickname Harvey Scissorhands.
And, based on a bombshell report within the New York Occasions final week, he sexually harassed a collection of girls, together with movie stars and staff.
Even so, Weinstein reigned for years as probably the most highly effective males in Hollywood, inspiring loyalty in addition to worry as he modified the film enterprise in methods good and dangerous. With movies corresponding to “Pulp Fiction” he pumped up American unbiased cinema, whereas his all-out Oscar campaigns turned awards season into an typically-nasty and more and more costly public brawl. Love him or hate him, he was a person you needed in your aspect.
Now, within the wake of the New York Occasions report, which detailed many years of sexual harassment accusations and payouts, Weinstein is discovering that few in Hollywood need to be on his aspect.
Weinstein’s affect had already begun to dim significantly in recent times. The Weinstein Co. has confronted vital monetary challenges, and new, deeper-pocketed rivals — together with Amazon Studios, A24, Netflix and Fox Searchlight — have stolen the awards season highlight.
As quickly because the story broke final week, Weinstein issued a press release of apology, took a depart of absence from his firm after which threatened to sue the New York Occasions. Nobody publicly got here to his protection. As an alternative, some in Hollywood admitted they have been unsurprised by the tales of Weinstein’s remedy of girls, saying that they had lengthy been an open secret.
“The one factor I’m stunned about,” one former Miramax government who labored intently with Weinstein advised the Los Angeles Occasions, “is how lengthy it took.”
Weinstein has lengthy embodied each Hollywood’s highest aspirations and its worst impulses, which can clarify partially why the allegations towards him have had such deep reverberations all through the business. “If I didn’t exist, they’d should invent me,” Weinstein as soon as stated. “I’m the one fascinating factor round.”
From the outset of his profession, Weinstein cultivated the persona of a Damon Runyon-esque hustler and relentless climber, an up to date version of an previous-faculty studio mogul. He was a strolling contradiction, by turns charming and bullying, his basest appetites — for meals, cigarettes, fight and apparently sexual conquest — matched by his starvation for cinematic glory.
As then-Occasions columnist Patrick Goldstein wrote in 2007, Weinstein was “the loopy, spittle-spewing, chain-smoking hustler who would bellow insults, twist arms and shamelessly hype no matter film was due that week.”
The person who turned little-recognized indie administrators into rock stars — and, within the course of, turned one himself — started his profession, fittingly sufficient, as a rock promoter. The Weinstein brothers have been 20-one thing live performance promoters when in 1979 they began Miramax Movie Corp., naming the corporate after their mother and father, Miriam and Max. A passionate movie lover, Weinstein favored to recount the story of how he had seen François Truffaut’s “The four hundred Blows” at age 14 — considering it at first to be a intercourse movie — and had his life immediately modified.
In 1989, the Weinsteins shot to prominence once they purchased the rights to launch Steven Soderbergh’s “intercourse, lies, and videotape” not lengthy after the movie gained the Viewers Award on the Sundance Movie Pageant. The occasion was not simply a seismic second for Miramax, Soderbergh and Sundance; it set the stage for the business growth for unbiased movie within the Nineteen Nineties.
From there, Miramax — which the Weinsteins would promote to the Walt Disney Co. in 1993 however proceed to function — had a curler-coaster existence. Through the years, quite a few different corporations tried to duplicate the Weinsteins’ formulation combining awards victories and field-workplace success. However none might match Miramax’s document of 249 Oscar nominations and 60 wins in simply 15 years or ship crossover hits similar to “The Crying Recreation,” “The Piano” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” the primary unbiased movie to interrupt $one hundred million on the field workplace.
Certainly, Weinstein’s identify got here to be synonymous with the Oscars, a lot in order that in 2003, when he had a hand in 4 of the 5 greatest image nominees, The Occasions wrote that the ceremony must be renamed “the Harveys.”
Through the years, Weinstein’s prowess as a producer, marketer and distributor would give numerous actors and filmmakers a big increase of their careers. “I really like Harvey,” Judi Dench, who gained a supporting actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love,” advised The Occasions in an interview shortly earlier than the harassment story broke. “I owe him for giving me my movie profession.”
However some who benefited from Weinstein’s golden contact weren’t as sort. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who gained his first Oscar for 1990’s “My Left Foot,” informed Weinstein, “There’s just one a part of you that works — the power to select scripts and decide films. In any other case, you’re an entire catastrophe as an individual.”
Tellingly, it was a quote Weinstein typically repeated with satisfaction.
That one a part of Weinstein served him and his films properly. Through the years, three Miramax films gained greatest image — “The English Affected person,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Chicago” — and after leaving Miramax and founding the Weinstein Co., the Weinsteins scored again-to-again greatest image wins with “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist” in 2011 and 2012.
Weinstein is usually credited with creating the fashionable Oscar marketing campaign. He honed what studios had been doing for many years, throwing lavish events to schmooze awards voters and carpet-bombing academy members with VHS screeners to make sure that his films weren’t ignored. “What we did was democratize the method,” he informed The Occasions in 2006.
Weinstein’s status as a grasp Oscar tactician reached its pinnacle with the 1999 win for “Shakespeare in Love.” As Weinstein slugged it out on the awards path towards the closely favored “Saving Personal Ryan,” Miramax and DreamWorks every spent no less than $5 million on their campaigns and fairly probably rather more, resulting in a good quantity of bitterness.
“There isn’t a query that the aggressiveness of the extraordinary marketing campaign Miramax has run in help of ‘Shakespeare’ has brought about us do extra on behalf of ‘Ryan,’ ” DreamWorks government Jeffrey Katzenberg complained to The Occasions.
Along with the lavish expenditures, Weinstein got here to be recognized — pretty or not — for igniting whisper campaigns towards rivals. He famously combined politics into his campaigns, having stars corresponding to Day-Lewis and Bradley Cooper testify earlier than Congress on points associated to their movies and arranging a gathering for Steve Coogan and Philomena Lee with Pope Francis after a Vatican screening of “Philomena.”
In 2005, the Weinsteins left Miramax in a bitter cut up from Disney over spending and shortly launched the Weinstein Co. However inside a couple of years, as the marketplace for unbiased movies cratered, the corporate was foundering.
Successes resembling “Silver Linings Playbook” and Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” have been far outnumbered by flops, together with the pricey musical “9.” Quite a few titles sat on the shelf for years, and a few — corresponding to “Grace of Monaco,” which premiered at Cannes — by no means acquired a U.S. theatrical launch.
And Weinstein’s contact with Oscar fare hasn’t been as positive in recent times. Because the movement image academy’s membership broadened, the more and more money-strapped firm has discovered itself dropping floor.
Final yr, the Weinstein Co. earned six Oscar nominations, together with greatest image, for the drama “Lion,” however this yr’s slate is way much less promising, with solely the homicide thriller “Wind River” as an extended-shot hopeful.
Weinstein has fought his approach out of robust corners earlier than, all the time projecting an indomitable spirit. However through the years, as the facility that when offered a defend to his dangerous conduct has waned, some consider a lifetime of karma has lastly caught up with him.
Whilst Weinstein copes with the fallout from the New York Occasions story and pledges to turn into a greater individual, reporters are digging with new fervor into his previous within the perception that many ladies who might have feared talking out up to now might now really feel emboldened to take action.
Three members of the Weinstein’s Co.’s 9-member board of administrators have resigned because the report was revealed. 4 others, together with Bob Weinstein, launched a press release noting the board has ordered an unbiased investigation into the allegations. “We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already-introduced determination to take an indefinite depart of absence from the Firm,” the assertion continued.
And on Saturday, Weinstein misplaced two key members of his authorized workforce: lawyer Lisa Bloom and disaster supervisor Lanny Davis.
Now the person who has all the time appeared to be spoiling for a struggle has the most important considered one of his life on his palms: a struggle not for a gold statuette or field-workplace bragging rights, however for his personal survival.
Occasions employees author David Ng contributed to this report.