Who is Harvey Weinstein? The film producer accused of sexual assault by Hollywood stars

Who is Harvey Weinstein? The film producer accused of sexual assault by Hollywood stars

Many allegations have been made about Harvey Weinstein

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Allegations against Harvey Weinstein have erupted into a media firestorm and much of the Hollywood film producer's glittering life appears under threat.

Weinstein has been accused by some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne, of sexual harassment, and he has now reportedly sought sanctuary at a rehabilitation centre for sex addicts in Arizona.

The allegations are so serious that they have cost him a job at his own company and led to the collapse of his marrage. Reports even suggest the New York Police Department has started an investigation into Weinstein's supposed offences.

Before the storm broke, Weinstein was one of Hollywood's most powerful players. His CV reads like a roll call of classic films, including Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and Gangs of New York.

It was all a far cry from Weinstein's upbringing in Electchester, a housing co-operative in Queens, New York. His brother and business partner, Bob, described their home as a "small two-bedroom apartment" and they were obliged to share a room until Harvey went to college.

The brothers were brought up with Hollywood: their father Max, a diamond-cutter, was obsessed with the silver screen and would take his boys to see films every Saturday, while their mother, Miriam, was having her hair done. In the 1970s the Weinstein brothers started making films together and by 1979 they had created their own studio, Miramax - a portmanteau of their parents' names.

The studio did good business during the 1980s but it was only after they sold it to Disney in 1993 that the real classic films began to mount up. Pulp Fiction was released just a year after the sale; Trainspotting, Muriel's Wedding and The English Patient came soon afterwards. Alongside these big-budget, mainstream successes, there were plenty of niche projects, including a smattering of erotically charged movies such as Sirens and Exotica.

In 1999 Harvey Weinstein won the Best Picture Oscar for Shakespeare In Love, and he also had success in the world of plays and musicals, winning Tony Awards for shows such as The Producers (his father's favourite movie) and Billy Elliot the Musical.

Yet controversy has never been far away. In the early 2000s Michael Moore claimed he'd been underpaid by The Weinstein Company for his smash-hit film Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore tried to sue the company but the trial did not come to fruition as an undisclosed settlement was agreed between the two. Weinstein also received a samarai sword in the post, with the message "no cuts." At the time it was alleged this was sent by Hiyao Miyazaki, director of the anime film Princess Mononoke, but Miyazaki has since denied this.

In addition to his film work Weinstein has become increasingly involved in politics, and is today a well-known donor to the Democrats. The Center For Responsive Politics claims he has made 185 individual donations to the party and organisations aligned with it, while hosting a number for fundraisers - including a gala gathering for Barack Obama at his own Connecticut home. He's also rubbed shoulders with the political class on this side of the pond, having been awarded a CBE in 2004.

All the while his personal life has been, by Hollywood standards, relatively stabled. Although his first marriage, to his former assistant Eve Chilton Weinstein, eventually broke down, he has remained marriage to Georgina Chapman in 2007. The two women have given Weinstein a total of five children, a fact which has been used in his defence this week.

Yet, after so many allegations, that defence is thinning by the day. Chapman has walked out, and Hillary Clinton, to whom Weinstein offered huge support last year, has washed her hands of him, saying she was "sick" and "shocked" to hear about the allegations. In Britain, Labour MPs have called for his CBE to be removed in light of the allegations and a spokesperson for Theresa May said the claims are "deeply concerning."

It must be stressed that the allegations are just that, and Weinstein has not been convicted of any crime. Yet, after a week which could have been ripped from the script of a Hollywood disaster movie, it's hard to see where one of the entertainment industry's great survivors goes from here.