Harvey Weinstein was born on March 19, 1952, in Queens, New York. His father, Max, was a diamond cutter by profession, and his mother, Miriam, was a homemaker and secretary. After graduating from SUNY Buffalo in 1973, Weinstein started a concert promotion business. Six years later, he and his brother Bob founded the Miramax Films Corporation, whose name was a blend of their parents' first names. Miramax quickly became a major force in the movie industry, and Harvey Weinstein established himself as one of the most successful and prominent filmmakers in the world. For a list of all the films he has produced over the course of his professional career, click here.
Weinstein's many successful films have included a handful of documentaries. One of those was Thin Blue Line (1988), which argued that a corrupt justice system in Dallas County had wrongly convicted a man of murder. Nineteen years later, Weinstein financed and helped to market and distribute Sicko, Michael Moore's scathing condemnation of the American healthcare system. And in 2009, Weinstein and his brother served as the executive producers of Capitalism: A Love Story, wherein Michael Moore portrays free-market capitalism as an economic system that places the pursuit of corporate profits above any interest in the public good. By Weinstein's telling, documentaries “need to be transformational rather than self-important.”
In 1993 the Walt Disney Company purchased Miramax for an estimated $60 million, but the Weinstein brothers continued to serve as its as co-chairmen. They expanded the enterprise by launching a television division in 1998, creating Talk magazine in conjunction with Hearst Publishing in 1999, and establishing Talk Miramax Books in 2000.
Harvey and Bob Weinstein left Miramax in 2005 to found an independent film studio, The Weinstein Company, which also became enormously successful. In 2013 they reunited with Miramax by way of a co-production and co-distribution agreement.
In addition to his filmmaking activities, Harvey Weinstein also developed a reputation as a major financial supporter of leftist causes and political figures. He not only hosted fundraisers for luminaries like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but he also personally donated money to Mrs. Clinton's campaigns ten times between 1999 and 2016. Moreover, Weinstein gave at least $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. All told, Weinstein made more than 180 donations to Democratic candidates and organizations between 1997 and 2017. To view a partial list of those beneficiaries, click here.
- Weinstein also came to the aid of the Clintons in 1998, when they were racking up enormous legal expenses as then-President Bill Clinton was battling allegations that he had lied about his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. According to The Washington Post, Weinstein donated the maximum $10,000 to Mr. Clinton’s legal defense fund.
- Another noteworthy donation by Weinstein came in 2017, when he gave $100,000 to support the creation of a Rutgers University faculty chair named for the feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
On October 5, 2017, the New York Times reported on a set of explosive allegations that Weinstein had sexually harassed multiple women in the film industry over the course of a nearly thirty-year period, and that he had reached financial settlements with at least eight of them in an effort to prevent them from going public with their stories. Said the Times: “Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s former and current employees, from assistants to top executives, said they knew of inappropriate conduct while they worked for him. Only a handful said they ever confronted him. Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its 'business reputation' or 'any employee’s personal reputation,' a recent document shows. And most of the women accepting payouts agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the deals or the events that led to them.”
On October 8, The Weinstein Company's board of directors fired Weinstein as a result of the mounting allegations against him.
On October 9, 2017, journalist Sharon Waxman revealed that thirteen years earlier, she had written an investigative report for the New York Times about Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. But that piece, Waxman said, was cut from the Times as a result of pressure from several Hollywood elites including Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, both of whom had previously worked on films with Weinstein. According to the culture-and-entertainment website Vulture.com: “[Waxman] says that because of their influence, and interference from Weinstein, whose company was a big advertiser in the Times, the article was edited to remove the more salacious details.”
After nearly a dozen women had publicly accused Weinstein of sexually harassing them in times past, author Ronan Farrow published an October 10, 2017 piece in the New Yorker stating: “Three women … told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault. In an audio recording captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015 … Weinstein admits to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is 'used to.' Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them. Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace.... All sixteen said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.... Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation.”
Soon after those latest revelations, Weinstein's wife of nearly ten years, Georgina Chapman, announced that she was leaving her husband.
By October 12, 2017, twenty-nine women had come forward with allegations of harassment, molestation, and sexual assault by Weinstein. Weinstein, meanwhile, checked in to a Scottsdale, Arizona rehabilitation facility to receive psychological treatment at a cost of $40,000-per-month.
On November 18, 2017, The Guardian reported that earlier that year, Weinstein had personally drawn up a “hitlist” of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers, and others working in the film industry. Said the Guardian piece: “The names ... were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women.... Individuals named on the list were to be targeted by investigators who would covertly extract and accumulate information from those who might know of claims or who might come forward with allegations against the film producer. Feedback was then to be relayed to Weinstein and his lawyers.” By thae time this Guardian report was published, more than 50 women had made allegations against Weinstein.
For additional information on Harvey Weinstein, click here.