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Before She Said release, a look at Harvey Weinstein's history of horrors

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulNov 18, 2022 | 08:00

Before She Said release, a look at Harvey Weinstein's history of horrors

With Universal Pictures' investigative-drama She Said set to release theatrically today, November 18, we take you through the story behind the 'Weinstein Effect' and the beginning of the #MeToo movement. 

From the Academy Award winning producers of 12 Years a Slave, Moonlight, Minari, Selma and The Big Short, the film is based on The New York Times bestseller, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement written by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the two New York Times journalists who broke the Harvey Weinstein story. 

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Photo: The New York Times

The film dramatises the investigation conducted and work done by the two journalists while exposing Weinstein’s sexual misconduct allegations and the overarching culture of abuse and cover-ups that permeates all sectors of the showbiz industry.

Here is a brief look at the events leading up to Weinstein’s horrific acts of abuse and harassment, unravelled:

[TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RAPE]

The former American film producer had been the driving force behind some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful film and theatre productions in the world. In 2007, Weinstein produced nearly 30 films, earning more Oscar nominations than any other individual or company in history. His productions garnered more than 300 Academy nominations and won 83 Oscars, including Best Picture wins for Shakespeare in Love and The King's Speech. This was the legacy Harvey Weinstein left behind before his infamous incarceration.

However, the telltale signs of something insidious being at play, far preceded the ultimate expose...

In October 2017, the New York Times bombshell piece revealed decades worth sexual misconduct allegations against the American film producer, accusing him of sexually harassing more than a dozen women employed or seeking employment in his production companies Miramax and The Weinstein Company. 

  • Actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd were among the women who first came forward accusing Weinstein of promising to further their careers in the industry in exchange for sexual favours. 
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
- Harvey Weinstein in a statement to The New York Times in response to the allegations

Shortly after, Weinstein took a leave of absence from the company in an attempt to “deal with this issue head on” along with his therapist. His consulting lawyer, Lisa Bloom, described him as "an old dinosaur learning new ways".

“I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”
- Lauren O’ Connor, one of the many women who accused Weinstein of sexual harrasment in a memo

Since the initial reporting in 2017, over 80 women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault or rape.

In November 2017, a group of the alleged victims, led by Italian actress Asia Argento, released a list of over 100 alleged instances of sexual abuse by Weinstein. The incidents in the list date from 1980 to 2015 and include 18 allegations of rape.

According to the women's reports, Weinstein invited young actresses or models into a hotel room or office on the pretext of discussing their career, and then he demanded massages or sex, citing Gwyneth Paltrow as an example that complying with his demands would help their careers.

"The casting couch in Hollywood was not invented by Harvey Weinstein. ... If a woman decides that she needs to have sex with a Hollywood producer to advance her career and actually does it and finds the whole thing offensive, that's not rape. You made a conscious decision that you're willing to do something that is personally offensive in order to advance your career."
- Weinstein's lawyer Benjamin Brafman in an interview with The Times (UK)

The allegations sparked a campaign against powerful men accused of sexual misconduct across the world in what came to be known as the ‘Weinstein Effect’ and spearheaded the #MeToo movement as we know it today.

  • Weinstein was eventually sentenced to 23 years in prison on multiple counts of sexual assault and third-degree rape.

Kantor and Twohey encapsulated their experiences while working on the story into a book released later in 2019. 

The rights to the book were obtained in 2018 by Annapurna Pictures and Plan B Entertainment. In June 2021, Universal Pictures announced they were developing an adaptation, with Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan in negotiations to star as Kantor and Twohey. It was also reported that Maria Schrader was attached to direct from a screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner set to produce it.

Here's the trailer for the film:

With the ongoing Weinstein trial in Los Angeles underway, more and more women have come forward recounting their chilling experiences with the sexual predator. However, since the prosecution most recently announced that they would not be moving forward with a key witness, Weinstein now faces seven counts that stem from four women, rather than from five women.

  • With all five victims involved in the case, he would have faced four rape charges, but now faces two.
  • The remaining counts that Weinstein now faces in the case are two charges of rape and five counts of sexual assault.
  • The cumulative jail time that he may face has come down from a maximum of 140 years in prison to 60 years to life.

Demand from Weinstein & Co: In August 2022, Weinstein and his attorneys tried to delay his trial from its October 10, 2022 start date by claiming that the film's marketing and publicity would prejudice any Los Angeles jury against him. However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench denied the request.

She Said hits theatres today, November 18.

Last updated: November 18, 2022 | 08:00
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