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In Thursday’s damning New York Times exposé — an in-depth investigation by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey titled “Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein” — the movie mogul admitted he has issues and, thus, would be taking a leave of absence to deal with them while consulting with therapists and lawyers.
However, because this is Harvey Weinstein, the outspoken executive who plays by his own rules, he’s not about to retreat from the spotlight quietly. In fact, he’s chasing his own story.
Hours after the Times piece broke, Weinstein granted an interview to Page Six editor Emily Smith that is nearly as incendiary as the day’s earlier news. While he admitted some responsibility for his misconduct, he doubled down on his threats to file a lawsuit against the Times, which was reported earlier by The Hollywood Reporter. He also claims that he’s made nice with both Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, two high-profile stars named in the story for having endured hotel room incidents with Weinstein.
“What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times’ inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies. They made assumptions,” Weinstein told Smith and Page Six. “The Times had a deal with us that they would tell us about the people they had on the record in the story, so we could respond appropriately, but they didn’t live up to the bargain. The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York Magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team.”
Weinstein mentions New York Magazine, but according to sources, it was The New Yorker that had been prepping a similar investigative piece about alleged misconduct to be written by Ronan Farrow.
Weinstein goes on to chalk the investigative piece up as a “vendetta” against him. He says the Times has frequently ignored his accomplishments such as Time: The Kalief Browder Story, a documentary he executive produced with Jay-Z, his work with AIDS charity amfAR and the New York-based philanthropic organization for the homeless Robin Hood. The Times recently published another in-depth investigation by Twohey about his questionable activities with amfAR, which fueled Weinstein’s fire.
“This is a vendetta, and the next time I see Dean Baquet [the executive editor of the Times] it will be across a courtroom,” Weinstein says in the interview, adding that he will be seeking $50 million in his suit.
The 65-year-old Weinstein then attempts to counter some of the Times reporting by responding to sections of the story which include actresses Judd and McGowan.
Judd went on the record for the Times piece, telling a story about an encounter she had with Weinstein at a hotel room at Peninsula Beverly Hills approximately two decades ago. The story confirmed what many had long suspected: that Judd’s interview with Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh — in which she alleged that she had been sexually harassed by an unnamed studio mogul — was about Weinstein.
“[The New York Times] spent six months researching this article then they gave us just 24 hours to answer it. They did tell us that Ashley Judd was on record, but we thought it would be along the lines of what she told Variety,” Weinstein continued to Page Six. “But she changed her story when giving it to the Times. I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now, I read her book [All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now I am going to reach out to her.”
He adds that his company worked with Judd on two movies after the hotel room encounter, citing 2002’s Friday and 2009’s Crossing Over. “I even set her up on a date with my brother Bob,” he claimed.
THR reached out to Judd for comment Thursday night, and the actress’ longtime rep, Annett Wolf said, “The New York Times article speaks for itself.”
THR reached out to the Times for comment on Weinstein’s criticisms of the paper’s reporting.
“We are confident in the accuracy and fairness of our reporting,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, spokesperson for the Times, told THR. “Mr. Weinstein had ample time to respond to specific allegations, which dealt with events that he had first-hand knowledge of, before our story published. We published his entire response, which acknowledges a history he now regrets. But the real issue is whether the story is accurate. Mr. Weinstein has not challenged any facts in our story.”
In reference to the reporting about McGowan — that the two reached a settlement in 1997 during the Sundance Film Festival where they had an encounter in a hotel room — Weinstein said they didn’t have any problems a decade later when coming face to face: “According to the Times I made a settlement with Rose in 1997, but we were photographed looking happy together in 2007 at Tarantino’s Grindhouse premiere, and at an event in Cannes. There was no animosity.”
THR has also reached out to McGowan for comment. Though she has not gone on the record with any outlets, she did tweet several times. “Anyone who does business with __ is complicit,” she posted Thursday afternoon. “And deep down you know you are even dirtier. Cleanse yourselves.”
Weinstein claims he’s ready to do that, even revealing that “a lot of people” would like him to check into a facility to deal with his personality and temper. “I may well just do that — I will go anywhere I can learn more about myself,” he says. “I want to be able to look at the people I have hurt and say, ‘I am sorry, I have changed and I’ve progressed.’ I am terribly embarrassed for my company, my staff and the only person who could fix this is me. I am going to fix myself, I am going to fix how I deal with women and how I deal with my temper and power.”
Weinstein blames most of the alleged misconduct on that temper.
“I also have the worst temper known to mankind, my system is all wrong, and sometimes I create too much tension. I lose it, and I am emotional, that’s why I’ve got to spend more time with a therapist and go away,” he says. “My temper makes people feel intimidated, but I don’t even know when I’m doing it. In the past I used to compliment people, and some took it as me being sexual, I won’t do that again. I admit to a whole way of behavior that is not good. I can’t talk specifics, but I put myself in positions that were stupid, I want to respect women and do things better.”
There is one woman who has notably remained silent thus far. THR has made numerous attempts to reach Weinstein’s wife of 10 years, Georgina Chapman. Weinstein married the Marchesa designer in December 2007, and the couple have since welcomed two children, a daughter, India Pearl, and a son, Dashiell Max.
As news was circulating Thursday following the Times report, Chapman was in the middle of presenting Marchesa’s bridal fashion show at Canoe Studios in Manhattan.
“She stands 100 percent behind me. Georgina and I have talked about this at length,” Weinstein tells Page Six. “We went out with [attorney] Lisa Bloom last night when we knew the article was coming out. Georgina will be with Lisa and others kicking my ass to be a better human being and to apologize to people for my bad behavior, to say I’m sorry, and to absolutely mean it.”
The interview follows a lengthy statement from Weinstein published by the Times and obtained by THR, one that has been labeled rambling, odd and bizarre by many who are following the story. Meanwhile, his fate at his company hangs in the balance and could be determined Thursday evening following an emergency Weinstein Co. board meeting.
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