7 Bombshells You'll Learn from Frontline’s Harvey Weinstein Documentary
Thanks to the more than 80 silence breakers, notorious sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein has fallen from grace, but in many ways, the ongoing scandal is still shrouded in mystery.
Today, PBS's Frontline in co-production with the BBC is exposing details in an investigative documentary that traces Weinstein’s misconduct back to his earliest crimes, featuring interviews with the men and women who tried to stop the former producer decades ago and those who enabled and hid his behavior.
Frontline: Weinstein, airing at 5pm PST on PBS, features interviews with former Weinstein intern Paula Wachowiak, former assistant Zelda Perkins, models Zoë Brock and Ambra Gutierrez, former Weinstein Co. and Miramax employees, and journalists who have covered his allegations.
The documentary points to a disturbingly consistent pattern of behavior that was acknowledged and dismissed by those around Weinstein by uncovering reports of misconduct dating back to his first film. Read on for the seven most shocking revelations you'll learn from the film.
1. Weinstein's inappropriate behavior dates back decades, according to a new accuser.
The known allegations against Weinstein date back to Weinstein’s first film, The Burning, in 1980. According to Suza Maher-Wilson, a woman who worked on the film and is speaking publicly for the first time, Weinstein asked her to give him a massage and then undressed.
Weinstein has since said in a statement, "I came of age in the '60s and '70s, that was the culture then," according to the documentary. According to former intern Paula Wachowiak's account, Weinstein also asked her to look at him naked and massage him. Weinstein denies Wachowiak's account and disagrees on the details of his encounter with Maher-Wilson.
2. Top agents knew about Weinstein's misconduct.
Whether out of fear, intimidation, or apathy, Hollywood's top agents most likely knew the truth about Weinstein, according to multiple accounts in the documentary. And some people are calling for them to start speaking out, too.
3. Non-Disclosure Agreements were key to preserving silence.
Weinstein allegedly thrived on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). When his victims attempted to call him out, he coerced many of them into signing agreements that forbade them from talking about the assaults. The NDAs were a key enabling factor that allowed Weinstein to silence these women.
4. Weinstein would cry after abusing and harassing women to gain their sympathy.
Model Zoë Brock claims that Weinstein cried when she called him out for being a "naughty boy" after he lured her into his hotel room at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. After he started giving her a massage and she realized what was happening, she said she ran to the bathroom and locked the door. Weinstein chased after her, yelling. Then he apologized and started crying.
She said she'll never forget what he said to her through tears: "You don’t like me because I’m fat.” Brock said in the documentary that she actually felt sorry for him at the time. In 2002, a New Yorker journalist who pieced together allegations against Weinstein and confronted him said that Weinstein also began to cry while begging the writer not to expose him, saying, "You’re going to ruin my marriage.”
5. Weinstein made deals with journalists so they wouldn't out him.
According to gossip writer A.J. Benza, who's featured in the documentary, Weinstein paid him to dig up alternative Hollywood gossip, which Weinstein would then trade with reporters who dug up allegations of infidelity against him. Benza claims not to have known about any sexual misconduct.
6. Weinstein could have been stopped in 2015 when Ambra Gutierrez came forward.
Italian model Ambra Gutierrez's story of Weinstein groping her hit headlines back in 2015. She went to the New York City police to report an encounter with Weinstein, saying he groped her and reached up her skirt in his office. She even agreed to meet with Weinstein again while wearing a wire.
During that second meeting, Weinstein was recorded saying, “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes." Gutierrez said in the documentary that she thought that would be enough to stop Weinstein for good. But Weinstein hired powerful lawyers, PR teams, and even a private intelligence firm (that usually investigated corporate business) to dig up dirt and refocus the blame on her.
7. Allegedly contracts at the Weinstein Company essentially monetized his pattern of abuse.
According to the documentary, investigators learned that when Weinstein's contract was up for renewal at The Weinstein Company in 2015, revisions were added that enabled the company to fine him for allegations on a sliding scale, translating offenses into dollar signs.
For one allegation, he had to pay a certain amount; for two he had to pay a larger amount, "monetizing this pattern of abuse" and demeaning the issue at hand according to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who has filed a civil lawsuit against The Weinstein Co. The lawsuit accuses company executives and the board of neglecting to investigate sexual harassment claims.