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When reports first surfaced in October that Harvey Weinstein had been engaged in extensive sexual misconduct for decades, The Weinstein Co. was left in a precarious financial state. The indie studio would eventually declare bankruptcy and sell its assets for $289 million to Lantern Entertainment, but before that happened, Weinstein’s top lieutenant, COO David Glasser, was ousted for cause. On Tuesday, in Delaware Bankruptcy Court, Glasser was accused of taking steps to enrich himself in the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal when the company’s survival was cast in doubt.
The allegation comes from the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which is dominated by several of Weinstein’s female accusers and is now seeking an investigation into Glasser. According to the court filing, Glasser’s alleged acts went well beyond “facilitating Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct.”
“The Committee understands that Mr. Glasser allegedly authorized payments from the Company to himself and others without Board approval, and sought to deprive the Company of rights in development projects to gain favor with prospective employers,” states the motion. “The Company also understands that Mr. Glasser may have encouraged certain of the Company’s employees to terminate their employment and solicited such employees to instead work for entities associated with Mr. Glasser. Moreover, after he was fired, Mr. Glasser allegedly damaged the Debtors’ efforts to close the sale to Lantern Entertainment LLC by falsely asserting ownership interests in the Debtors’ assets and interfering in Lantern’s negotiations with key business partners, such as Viacom International, Inc.”
Glasser is denying the allegations that he ever took steps to enrich himself. He sees much of what’s now happening as fallout from the tug-of-war over Yellowstone, the Kevin Costner series for Viacom’s Paramount Network that he is executive producing. The rights for the show were listed as one of the titles being sold by TWC, but as is the case with several other films and television shows once enjoyed or set to be exploited by Weinstein’s former company, a cloud hovers over what actually is being transferred to Lantern.
Earlier this month, a Lantern attorney told the bankruptcy judge during a hearing that it was interested in pursuing its own investigation into Glasser for allegedly interfering in its $289 million deal — a sum that was discounted from $310 million once many producers began raising objections to the assumption of contracts. Instead, it is the Committee making a bid for an examination of Glasser. Although there could be a challenge over the Committee’s standing to attempt this discovery, the reduction in the sale price certainly meant there was less money to distribute to alleged victims of Weinstein’s misconduct.
Before TWC’s Chapter 11, Glasser threatened an $85 million wrongful termination lawsuit. In recent weeks, there’s been more fighting over the blow-up of TWC, including a fraud lawsuit against Lantern from Ron Burkle’s company, which at one point was exploring its own purchase of TWC.
With that background, the Committee is now demanding communications between Glasser and Burkle as well as the former TWC executive’s communications with representatives from Viacom, A&E, Lifetime, Netflix, United Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor. The Committee also seeks communications over Yellowstone, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, an untitled Richard Pryor project, an untitled David O. Russell project and other assets that are listed in the sale and have drawn objections.
The Committee is also looking to depose Glasser about money transfers and abuse allegations.
“The massively overbearing scope of the Committee’s examination of Glasser evidences a runaway train with Lantern at the controls,” says Lewis Landau, attorney for Glasser. “Professionals have racked up more than $7.5 million in professional fees through May. As that burn rate continues past the $10 million mark, the Committee strategy is to assert wild and baseless accusations against anyone connected to the company to develop leverage to benefit Lantern.”
Landau adds that the dispute “is really about Lantern losing the Yellowstone contract” and says that payments “were duly authorized under applicable corporate rules and it took multiple staff persons o authorize and distribute payments.” Landau says that Glasser “has never taken any action that breaches any agreement with TWC” and “will continue to put his energies into benefitting those damaged by the TWC debacle.”