Harvey Weinstein scandal: What next for Hollywood?


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Harvey Weinstein has been thanked more often than God in Oscars acceptance speeches

Oscar-winning movie producer Harvey Weinstein is at the centre of a sexual harassment scandal, which has led to him being sacked by his own company.

Actress Meryl Streep – who once called him “God” in an awards speech – has spoken out against him, saying the claims left her “appalled”.

Dame Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson are among others to have denounced him.

When the claims were first reported in the New York Times, Weinstein apologised for causing “a lot of pain”. He later disputed the article, however, claiming the report was “saturated with false and defamatory statements”.

But it’s a dramatic fall from grace for one of the movie industry’s highest-profile producers, which could have wider implications for Hollywood itself.

Here are five pressing questions that arise from this mounting scandal.

What next for Harvey Weinstein?

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Might Weinstein be welcomed back into the Hollywood fold like Gibson was?

The man behind such hits as Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love reportedly did not want to leave The Weinstein Company – but was fired anyway.

He was apologetic but bullish last week when the allegations were first published and threatened to sue the New York Times, the paper that broke the story.

Since then, he’s been deserted by both his lawyer Lisa Bloom and his legal crisis adviser Lanny Davis.

It remains to be seen whether he will make good his threats of legal action.

The Weinstein Company said he was fired “in light of new information”, so more allegations are expected to surface.

Weinstein was made an honorary CBE by the Queen in 2004 for his contribution to the British film industry, and there have already been calls for that to be revoked. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she’s “concerned” about the allegations, but any decision on his CBE would not lie with Downing Street.

Yet there is always the possibility he can bounce back, like other disgraced Hollywood figures who have returned to the limelight.

Mel Gibson, for example, was back on Hollywood’s red carpets earlier this year, despite an anti-Semitic rant during a public meltdown 11 years ago – although the allegations against Weinstein put him in a different situation.

What next for Hollywood?

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Weinstein (centre) with the other Shakespeare in Love producers after it won best picture at the 1999 Oscars

Weinstein’s firing comes after a number of high-profile men have left their jobs amid claims of sexual misconduct.

These include Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling at Fox News and Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles. Bill Cosby is also facing a retrial over sexual assault charges.

O’Reilly said they were “completely unfounded claims” and Bolling described the claims against him as “untrue and terribly unfair”. Knowles called the initial allegation “100% untrue” and later decided to “step away” from his role.

“Men in Hollywood need to change ASAP,” said actress Rose McGowan in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

“Hollywood’s power is dying because society has changed and grown, and yet Hollywood male behaviour has not. It is so not a good look.”

Jenni Konner, executive producer of the HBO series Girls, told the New York Times on Sunday: “I see this as a tipping point.

“This is the moment we look back on and say, ‘That’s when it all started to change.'”

What next for The Weinstein Company?

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The King’s Speech won four Oscars in 2011

Weinstein may have been fired but an internal investigation will still go ahead. The company said it had retained an independent law firm “to undertake a thorough and independent investigation”.

This will be a financial burden on the company, with Forbes reporting such investigations can cost between $20m (£15m) and $40m (£30m) to carry out. Forbes also said the company would find it more expensive to raise funds in the future.

Weinstein and his brother Bob own 42% of the company, but it’s unclear how profitable the company has been in recent years.

It had started to move into TV production, but without its most famous figurehead and driving force it is unclear what will happen to any deals it has signed.

One third of the company’s all-male board resigned when the allegations emerged.

The Wrap has reported that the company is set to change its name in an attempt to move on after Weinstein’s firing. The website claims the Weinstein name has been “irretrievably tainted by the scandal”, although it says a decision has not been formally made.

What films does he have out this awards season?

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Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner co-star in Wind River

Weinstein is renowned for his campaigning skills, often managing to turn smaller, independent films into Oscar contenders.

A 2015 survey of nearly 1,400 Oscar acceptance speeches by the website Vocativ found that Weinstein was thanked more frequently than God.

One of his biggest hits was Shakespeare in Love, which won the best picture Oscar in 1999. A sequel has since been announced, with Weinstein as producer.

The Weinstein Company also distributed such films as The King’s Speech, The English Patient and Chicago, all of which – like The Artist – won the best picture Oscar.

This year the company is pushing Wind River, a wintry thriller starring Jeremy Renner and Mary Elizabeth Olsen.

The Current War, produced by Weinstein and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison, is also a possible awards contender, despite receiving mixed reviews. Will the Weinstein connection dent their chances?

What next for his political connections?

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Harvey Weinstein at the 2016 Bafta Film Awards in London

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and several Democratic politicians have come out to say they will now channel Weinstein’s political donations towards women’s rights groups.

The producer was a prominent donor to the Democratic Party during the 2016 election campaign.

“The DNC will donate over $30,000 (£22,850) in contributions from Weinstein to Emily’s List, Emerge America and Higher Heights,” the committee said in a statement.

There are also question marks about his other donations and interests.

In a statement issued last week, after the allegations surfaced, Weinstein said: “One year ago, I began organising a $5m [£3.8m] foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC [University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts].

“While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year.”

USC declined to responded when asked on Friday if it would continue its connection with Weinstein.

Weinstein is also a trustee of Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in New York. Bafta hasn’t commented.

He was also on the board of directors at the US charity Robin Hood, which describes itself as “New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organisation”, but stepped down after the allegations emerged, the charity told BBC News.


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