Go figure that talent and content producers might not want to work with the entertainment industry equivalent of The Pit of Despair. A revolt from agencies and financiers has put the Weinstein Company “near the brink” of extinction, Deadline Hollywood reported last night. Whatever remaining benefit of doubt has evaporated as more details of the Harvey Weinstein “dumpster fire” emerges — and that was before details of his contract with the board emerged:
Late last week, the town seemed willing to hang in with the production company if Weinstein was fired, giving co-chairman Bob Weinstein and COO David Glasser the chance to keep the company moving forward on its TV and movie projects, and keep the 190 staffers from heading to the exits. This was after the first New York Timesarticle. But there has been one devastating blow after the other in the days following that have eroded much of that good will for a post-Weinstein rebound. The first serious wound came with Ronan Farrow’s The New Yorker article, with descriptions of rapes that were more than sickening; they were terrifying. Two days after the board of directors issued a statement that its members had no idea of the allegations of abuse by Weinstein, TNY today quoted board member Lance Maerov admitting he had heard of multiple settlements. Even though he added he believed they were for consensual affairs and the desire to eliminate legal liability (and some believe his admission got mangled in translation, because at least two of the matters were investigated by TWC’s HR department, several major agents today said they had lost faith in the company’s mixed messaging).
Agents did not want to be on record, but reactions ranged from not wanting to risk the wrath of clients in the event of more fallout by putting them into TWC projects, and others said that if there was evidence of Weinstein benefiting directly or indirectly in projects, the agencies wanted no part of it. They felt even a re-branded company will carry a tarnish, and hoped that projects would be sold off. This wasn’t unanimous; at least one said that if Bob Weinstein and Glasser could change the messaging, and make it clear that Harvey Weinstein’s indiscretions were not in fact covered up, forgiveness could come over time.
Good luck making that argument after TMZ’s exposé on the Weinstein contract yesterday. If accurate, it essentially proves that TWC knew about Weinstein’s conduct and demanded that he indemnify the board against it. As Allahpundit concluded, the board personally profited from every violation from the “fine” system the contract levies, which incentivized them to help Weinstein cover up his “indiscretions.” In fact, they got even richer by that process, while at the same time protecting Weinstein from public accountability for his actions.
The details of Weinstein’s contract has added further fuel to the fire of efforts to force the remaining board members to leave. Actress Rose McGowan has led protests on social media promoting a petition to that effect, but DH’s report suggests that events may be moving faster than the protests. Employees may soon start looking for the exits before the exits come looking for them:
Numerous sources both inside and outside the company paint a dire picture of a business in extreme limbo, as Bob Weinstein and Glasser struggled doggedly to keep things together and prevent a flood of pink slips. While litigation is certain to dictate the specifics of the company’s future, the immediate tasks of operating a company–developing scripts, booking theaters, creating marketing materials–are increasingly fraught. …
An employee of TWC reached by Deadline would not speak on the record, but described an office environment where already flagging morale has curdled into anger at Weinstein for acting without a thought to the consequences for the many troops charged with executing his vision. The growing consensus is that job security is tenuous at best.
One executive compared the situation to a banking collapse:
One high-level media executive likens the situation to “a run on the bank.” The person expounded to Deadline, “Banks aren’t going to continue to lend to them. You have agencies saying they will not allow talent to appear in their movies even if they re-brand. The equity is likely to get wiped out.”
Without equity, there are no bridge loans. Without bridge loans, the capital needed to buy content rights and pay stars up front evaporates, and the business model collapses. Their current income from residuals and box office won’t be enough to do much other than fund current operations, and that won’t sustain itself at a high enough level to reinvest. Even if the board “rebrands” TWC under another name, the memory of the organization’s role in protecting Weinstein (that contract!) and perpetuating an environment of abuse won’t disappear, not even if they name the new company after Mother Theresa.
Put simply, the Weinstein brand is toxic in every way. The only way out would be to induce mass amnesia in the industry and the viewing public. On that point, Scott Johnson administers an amusing coup de grace:
We sense the possibilities in this inexhaustibly rich story. A compelling movie series along the lines of the Bourne variations awaits its producer, all leading to The Weinstein Contract: The Weinstein Identity, The Weinstein Supremacy, The Weinstein Ultimatum, The Weinstein Legacy. In this series, however, extreme memory loss is the cure rather than the problem.
Hey, the former moral conscience of America is way ahead of you, Scott:
Jimmy Kimmel defends lack of Harvey Weinstein jokes: I’m not the "moral conscience of America" https://t.co/XrIeI3I8ss
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) October 13, 2017