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Here’s what you need to know about the Harvey Weinstein scandal

Here’s what you need to know about the Harvey Weinstein scandal
Here’s what you need to know about the Harvey Weinstein scandal

As sexual harrassment claims build up, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is quickly becoming one of the most toxic people in the entertainment industry.

Investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker have unearthed previously undisclosed allegations against Weinstein of sexual harrassment and unwanted physical contact that stretch over the course of nearly three decades.

The story has diverged in multiple directions as more and more women come forward. Here are some key points to help follow this ongoing scandal.

Who is Harvey Weinstein?

Weinstein’s entertainment career began in the seventies when he started making films with his brother Bob. In 1979, they started their own studio, Miramax. They sold the studio to Disney in 1993 and formed the Weinstein Company in 2005.


As an executive producer, Weinstein has won six best-picture Oscars. He’s been involved in countless entertainment projects including “Pulp Fiction,” “The King’s Speech,” “Good Will Hunting,” and the television show “Project Runway.”

According to an investigation in The New Yorker, Weinstein’s films have earned more than three hundred Oscar nominations and “he has been thanked more than almost anyone else in movie history, just after Steven Spielberg and right before God.”

The allegations against Weinstein have come as a shock to many because of his longtime support of the Democratic party and progressive values, including women’s rights. He has fundraised for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among other Democratic politicians.

What’s he accused of doing?

The New York Times published its initial report of Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual harrassment on Oct. 5.

Over the course of their investigatoin, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey interviewed eight women who accused Weinstein of appearing fully or nearly naked in front of them, asking to give or receive massages, or asking for them to be present while he bathed.


Actress Ashley Judd alleged that two decades ago Weinstein brought her to his hotel room. When she arrived, he was wearing a bathrobe and asked for her to watch him shower or to let him give her a massage.

The report also found that Weinstein has reached settlements with at least eight women.

The New Yorker published its own investigation on Tuesday, just five days after The New York Times. The piece revealed even more troubling information about Weinstein.

Of the 13 women interviewed, three said Weinstein raped them either by forcibly performing or receiving oral sex or forced vaginal sex. Four of the women said he exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.

Weinstein admitted to groping a Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015. The New Yorker made the audio recording public for the first time.

Weinstein described the behavior as something he is “used to.”

Sixteen former and current executives and assistants told The New Yorker they had witnessed or had knowledge of these unwanted sexual advances. All of them said this kind of behavior was widely known within Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

In another New York Times story published on Tuesday, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow also came forward as victims of Weinstein’s harrassment. Several other actresses spoke out for this article including Tomi-Ann Roberts, Rosanna Arquette, Katherine Kendall, Judith Godrèche, and Dawn Dunning.

When Paltrow was 22, Weinstein hired her for the lead in the Jane Austen adaptation Emma. Before shooting began, Paltrow said Weinstein invited her up to his room where he put his hands on her and suggested that they give each other massages.


Paltrow said she confieded in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time, who later confronted Weinstein about the incident.

Angelina Jolie had a similar story during the release of “Playing by Heart” in the late 1990s. She said that she also refused Weinstein’s unwanted advances in a hotel room.

Who else is getting caught up in this scandal?

As more information comes out about this growing scandal, it feels like everyone in Hollywood has some kind of connection.

Shortly after the initial New York Times story was published, Sharon Waxman published a story on the website The Wrap. Her article said that Matt Damon tried to stop her from writing an article about Weinstein for The New York Times in 2004.

She traveled to Europe to investigate Fabrizio Lombardo, the head of Miramax Italy, because she believed his job was “to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things.”

Waxman claims that calls from Damon and Russell Crowe in support of Lombardo along with pressure from the Weinstein Company influenced the Times to not publish the story.

Damon has denied that he tried to stop Waxman from writing the story. The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet also denied Waxman’s claims in a statement, saying “it is unimaginable to me that The Times killed a story because of pressure from Harvey Weinstein, who was and is an advertiser.”


Another Boston-based actor has found himself mixed up in the scandal. On Tuesday, Ben Affleck released a statement about Weinstein, who worked with both he and Damon on “Good Will Hunting.”

Actress Rose McGowan tweeted in reply to Affleck’s statement accusing him of omitting information:

With every new story, it’s becoming more obvious that Weinstein’s reputation was out in the open within the entertainment industry.

The television shows “Entourage” and “30 Rock” both alluded to Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. In 2013, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane cracked a joke about Weinstein while announcing the Oscar nominees for best supporting actress: ‘‘Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.’’

How have politicians reacted?

On Tuesday, many Democratic politicans, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, conemned Weinstein and his actions.

“I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein,” Clinton said in a statement through her spokesman Nick Merrill. “The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior.”

A statement from Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, on Tuesday similarly disavowed Weinstein.

“Michelle and I have been disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein,” the statement said. “Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status. We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories. And we all need to build a culture — including by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect — so we can make such behavior less prevalent in the future.”


Some, like Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, said they would return or donate any money they had received from Weinstein.

What has the fallout been?

After the initial story was published on Thursday, Weinstein sent a statement to the Times announcing he would take a leave of absence from the Weinstein Company. He blamed his behavior on the well-worn notion that these kinds of allegations were handled differently back in his day.

In the statement, Weinstein wrote, “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

While the Weinstein Company was reeling from these reports on Friday, one-third of the company’s all-male board resigned. The four remaining board members hired a law firm to investigate these allegations and announced that Weinstein’s indefinite leave of absense would begin immediately.

In a statement, the Weinstein Company announced it had fired Weinstein on Sunday. The statement said the decision had been made because they had found information that Weinstein had violated the company’s code of conduct during the previous week.

Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman told People Magazine on Tuesday that she would be leaving her husband in light of the allegations being made against him.

“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions. I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time,” Chapman told People.

Sophia Eppolito can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SophiaEppolito.