Harvey Weinstein was once the King of Hollywood, producing over 200 films, many of which were critical and box office hits, including "Pulp Fiction", "Shakespeare in Love" and more. His films are described as culture-defining, and as an independent producer, considered a champion of filmmaking as an art.
To be in a Weinstein movie was every veteran and up-and-coming movie star's dream, bringing prestige and a sense of legitimacy to a star's career. He made fantastic films and advocated and campaigned heavily for them - and his stars - during Awards season.
But aside from being a major producer, Weinstein is also a convicted sex offender. From the top of the Holywood heap, Weinstein now languishes in jail, serving a 23-year prison sentence after getting arrested and charged with rape in 2018 and sentenced for two felonies in 2020.
Weinstein's rise to power began in the 1970s as a successful concert producer. He soon established the independent film company Miramax, distributing and producing smaller independent and art-house films which, though not box office hits, would often receive critical acclaim.
What followed was success after success, with Miramax from 1989 to 2004 and then the Weinstein Company from 2005 to 2017. It was in 2017 when his Board then fired him after a very long list of sexual abuse charges dating back to the late 1970s were made public and released to the press.
Over 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. They range from models, production assistants, and many of Hollywood's top actresses, including Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd and more.
To him, rape and sexual abuse were considered job interviews or "auditions" for many actresses who were up for parts in his films. He would schedule business meetings or auditions with women in production or actresses, many set up by their own agents and his production company.
They would arrive shocked to see him naked underneath a bathrobe, requesting a massage and oral sex and then proceeding to attack. He would degrade these women, threaten their careers and force them into silence with non-disclosure agreements.
For many, however, Weinstein's narcissist and sociopathic behavior was only half of the problem. He got away with his crimes because the people around him (and the industry) chose to look the other way. Members of his own staff, creative collaborators, director, actors, lawyers, and more already knew about his behavior but never called him out, did not help any of the victims or reported their suspicions to the authorities.
Harvey Weinstein cultivated a culture of fear; Yes, he had great artistic taste, but he was also a political power broker, with politicians in his pocket as he raised campaign funds for them. He was untouchable and could make or break careers.
But ultimately, Weinstein got away with it for so long thanks to Holywood's culture of silence about the casting couch and how the balance of power favors predatory men like him.
Directed by: Jane McMullen