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Opening arguments in the trial of former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, accused of rape and other sex crimes, begin Wednesday. While the event that will involve celebrity, power, money and secrets won’t be televised, the dramatic proceedings can be heard verbatim after they end each day.
The project has journalist-turned filmmaker Phelim McAleer sitting in on the trial, then handing over a transcript to his director who will have voice actors playing the parts of lawyers, judge, witnesses, jurors, etc., to be released as a podcast each day of the trial, expected to last about five weeks.
McAleer and his wife and producing partner, Ann McElhinney, dub the podcast, The Harvey Weinstein Trial: Unfiltered. While the words will be verbatim, they’ll boil it down to about the best 45 minutes of each day’s proceedings and make the finished product available at WeinsteinPodcast.com, Spotify and other outlets. The show is repped by Alessandra Catanese of Anonymous Content.
Some of the high-profile witnesses who could be called include Rosie Perez, Selma Hayek, Charlize Theron, attorney Gloria Allred, representatives from The Weinstein Co. and Miramax along with Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Bob. Emails sent and received by Harvey Weinstein through the years are also expected to be read in court.
McAleer calls the project “the most dramatic way to bring the biggest trial of the year and the #MeToo movement to an international audience,” and he says he’ll arrive three hours early each day to ensure a spot in the courtroom, where the capacity is about 120 observers and most are expected to be reporters.
The podcast might be the least controversial project coming from McAleer and McElhinney, filmmakers who produced Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. The film about abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is serving a life sentence for the death of three infants, only took in $3.7 million at the box office, though President Donald Trump in March screened it at the White House.
The couple, who produce what they call “verbatim theater,” also courted controversy with FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers, about FBI agents who texted back and forth their desire to “stop” Trump’s presidency. In May, the theater where it was to debut canceled performances citing “threats of violence.”
And in 2015, McAleer and McElhinney had to deal with a mutiny by many of the actors who were set to play the real-life characters involved in the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which set off riots. While the script was verbatim Grand Jury testimony, the actors called it biased and one-sided and quit just before the play, dubbed Ferguson, was to open in Los Angeles, though it opened without incident in New York two years later.
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