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Frontline takes its turn in the Harvey Weinstein cesspool


Yes, he’s still in denial mode in new Frontline documentary. PBS photo

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Well, why not? Public television’s franchise investigative documentary series has decided to take a crack at Harvey Weinstein -- but comes away with nothing all that notably new on the slithering onetime Hollywood powerbroker.

Accusers come forth on camera, although no “A-listers” participate. Enablers say they should have known better. And Weinstein himself issues one off-camera denial after another, all of them duly noted in Frontline’s one-hour Weinstein (Friday, March 2nd at 8 p.m. central on KERA13 in Dallas).

While cowed underlings massaged the deposed studio boss’s ego, he constantly demanded massages from young actresses and employees while presenting himself in various stages of undress. Most looked the other way, as did Hollywood at large until The New York Times toppled Weinstein last fall with a series of reports in which a few brave women publicly came forward. The dam then broke.

Weinstein continues to insist that any sex was consensual. He steadfastly denies any and all allegations that he raped or tried to rape any of the women who are charging otherwise. But one of his denials to Frontline, all of them issued through attorneys, notes that “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s. That was the culture then.”

By this he apparently means the idea of free and easy sex with a guy who had the power to make or break careers.

Some of the on-camera recollections from Weinstein’s accusers are decidedly to the point.

Actress Sean Young says he “pulled his thing out” before she told him, “I really wouldn’t pull that thing out because it isn’t pretty.” Young says her potentially major career got derailed as a result.

Another up-and-coming actress, Zoe Brock, claims Weinstein lured her to a remote location in Cannes, France with a promise that others also would be joining them at a “party.”

Instead he emerged naked and wanted a massage, according to her account. “I may have been stupid enough to lie down,” Brock says. But she subsequently “bolted” and told Weinstein to put his clothes back on, “you naughty f**king boy.” She’s never forgotten the sight of him crying while saying, “You don’t like me because I’m fat.”

Paul Webster, who worked for Weinstein when he ran Miramax Films, confesses to being “fully aware that Harvey was a womanizer,” but repeatedly “chose to suppress it . . . I didn’t have the guts to do anything about it. I think the deal I made with the devil was to my advantage.”

Many of the women who personally witnessed Weinstein’s unwelcome advances ended up signing non-disclosure agreements in return for payments. But the word was out, and Ken Auletta of The New Yorker recalls being on the scent back in 2002.

Auletta says he personally confronted Weinstein, who initially became enraged and then began crying about how publication of such an article would “destroy my family.”

The evidence at hand wasn’t solid enough to print, Auletta says in retrospect. “I wish that I could have nailed the guy in 2002.”

No one currently at the embattled Weinstein Company would agree to be interviewed, according to Frontline. A former executive with the company, Tom Prince, flatly says “Harvey was a dictator” who raised suspicions when he had some young actresses flown abroad to play small l parts that easily could have been handled by locals at a fraction of the cost. Otherwise, says Prince, “I knew nothing.”

That’s also been the mantra of Meryl Streep, who now infamously called Weinstein “God” after winning a Golden Globe for her performance in
The Iron Lady
, which his company produced.

Streep, publicly supportive of actresses who have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, does not do an on-camera interview for Frontline. Nor do Gwyneth Paltrow or her former boyfriend, Brad Pitt, who reportedly confronted Weinstein privately in connection with alleged sexual misconduct on his part during the making of Emma. The film starred Paltrow before she won an Oscar four years later for her performance in Weinstein’s Shakespeare In Love.

In the end, Weinstein doesn’t land any big fish who would have made the documentary a major newsmaker. Even director Quentin Tarantino, generally not at all camera-shy, is a non-participant. The best Weinstein can do is recycle a previous quote of his that “we allowed it to exist, because that’s the way it was.” The two men collaborated on films such as Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill.

There of course will be no place for Harvey Weinstein at Sunday’s 90th annual Oscar ceremony. He’s also likely to go unmentioned by host Jimmy Kimmel, because there’s nothing at all amusing about his long, alleged reign of terror. Frontline’s late-in-coming documentary capably condenses it all while Weinstein continues to prepare his defense. But those who have been paying any attention at all already know enough of the sordid details,


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