Weinstein Company Must Find Way Forward Without Disgraced Movie Mogul

Oct 11, 2017
Originally published on October 11, 2017 9:33 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The Weinstein Company, once one of the most powerful in the movie making business, is fighting for its survival now that its founder, Harvey Weinstein, is facing dozens of allegations of sexual assault and harassment going back decades. The company's board has fired Harvey Weinstein, but that doesn't solve its problems or those of the filmmakers who are still working with the studio. With us now to talk about this is Ben Fritz of The Wall Street Journal. Hi.

BEN FRITZ: Hi.

MCEVERS: So tell us what this company is planning to do to survive.

FRITZ: Well, right now they're struggling to figure it out. This has all happened so fast. But they have two things to figure out. What is the company going to be called? They've hired two advertising agencies to try to come up with a new name. Obviously the Weinstein name has become toxic very fast. And the other question is, who's going to lead whatever this company is called going forward?

At the moment, it's Harvey's brother, Bob Weinstein, who was co-chairman with him, and the president of the company, David Glasser. They're running it on a temporary basis - and then of course whether or not they have the financial backing to continue going. I mean, they were having some financial problems, and certainly all this is only going to exacerbate their challenges.

MCEVERS: What's your sense from your reporting? I mean, can this company exist without Harvey Weinstein?

FRITZ: It's difficult to imagine, right? I mean, Harvey Weinstein - I mean, it's his name. And he was the public face, and he was the person who dealt with the talent. And it was his tastes that really defined so many of their movies and TV shows. If it does survive, it's going to be a fundamentally different company.

MCEVERS: As I mentioned in the introduction, these allegations against Harvey Weinstein go back decades, and they're now coming out at a time when the company already wasn't doing all that well. You know, it used to get all these Oscar nominations. In 2003, I think there were 40 nominations. Last year, it was just a few. How bad off was the company already when these allegations started coming out?

FRITZ: Well, what's been happening with them is they've had a bad run of movies. They haven't had very many successful movies the past few years. And it's been well-known in Hollywood for a while the Weinsteins have been struggling financially. They're not known for paying their bills on time, to say the least. There's always rumors that they're on the edge of going under, but they have always managed to survive somehow. They've always managed to keep going. And they've managed to find people to work with them.

MCEVERS: So what happens to the slate of films that are, you know, with the Weinstein Company now? I mean, there's the film "Wind River" directed by Taylor Sheridan. It was thought to be an Oscar contender. I mean, does that now get shut out of the Oscar process because of Harvey Weinstein?

FRITZ: You can't imagine anybody in Hollywood wants to vote for a Weinstein Company movie. Just for the sake of the respect of the industry, they don't want anything Weinstein to show up at the Oscars or the Golden Globes or anything. I think that's a very safe bet.

On top of that, you know, they have a movie coming out in November called "The Current War" that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon about, you know, the battle of Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse and his inventors. And it was thought to be an awards contender. But now, I mean, the question is, can the company even release it? And if they can, can they market it well? Harvey was a great marketer. I mean, can you imagine Benedict Cumberbatch or Michael Shannon having to go out and do publicity for the film, do interviews? All anybody's going to want to talk about is Harvey. They're not going to want to talk about the movie of course. So they're in a very challenging position to release their movies that are scheduled for the next few months.

Although, I should say, I know for a fact that Bob Weinstein has been out calling producers, calling agents, telling them not to worry. The company's going to continue. They're going to find the resources to support their releases. But it's hard to imagine how they're going to do that right now.

MCEVERS: As this story unfolds and more and more women come forward to talk about what happened with them and Harvey Weinstein, are you starting to hear about other powerful people like him. You know, I mean, are stories coming out of the woodwork? I guess the question on everyone's mind right now is, like, who's next?

FRITZ: Yeah. I mean, look; that is a question people are asking. There certainly are rumors of other, you know, powerful men in Hollywood who have abused their positions, and reporters like myself are looking into that and seeing what's true. And you know, certainly the level of scrutiny is higher than it's ever been, which is a great thing and I think the willingness of people to speak out and not feel that they need to accept abusive behavior.

MCEVERS: Ben Fritz of The Wall Street Journal, thank you so much.

FRITZ: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.