Bob Weinstein Wants Back Into Hollywood. Here's Why Hollywood Shouldn't Let Him

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Bob Weinstein

Those getting into business with the new company of a man who enabled Harvey Weinstein's alleged crimes are making a grave mistake, writes Hollywood Reporter executive editor Stephen Galloway.

On Aug. 16, 2015, Bob Weinstein sent his brother Harvey an extraordinary letter. "Over the past 15 to twenty years I have been personally involved with the repercussions of your behavior," he noted. "There have been instances of behavior that I and [attorney] David Boies have had to assist u with in getting out of trouble." He continued: "There are other behaviors that I will not describe that u are aware of that need to be addressed. … You have brought shame to the family and to your company."

That shame, as we all know, led to the disintegration of The Weinstein Co., the dissolution of the siblings' relationship, the prosecution of Harvey and, it seemed, the termination of Bob's career. Now he's back. On Oct. 11, he announced he was launching a new company, Watch This Entertainment, with plans to make two to three films per year, the first of which, an animated picture called Endangered, he'll produce with Tea Leoni.

Let me say at once that I believe in forgiveness and redemption. I believe in second chances. I believe that the actions we take at one stage of our lives are not the same as those we take at another. Still, something's rotten here.

If there's any takeaway from Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill and Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's She Said — two new books by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who exposed Harvey Weinstein's misdeeds in all their malignancy — it's that a number of people turned a blind eye and thereby allowed his alleged crimes to continue.

There were agents, lawyers, producers and executives. There were writers, directors, journalists and publicists. There were insiders and outsiders, friends and colleagues, acquaintances and associates. And then there was Bob.

Whatever his initial protestations, it's clear from these books that he knew a long time ago that his brother was likely guilty of many forms of abuse and failed to stop him. The leaking of the above letter, while apparently an attempt to exculpate him, only makes his awareness more apparent.

From his early days at Miramax, the Weinsteins' first company, he knew bad things were going on. When an assistant abruptly quit, her father wrote threatening legal action. Bob's former assistant knew it and told the reporters — and if she knew it, he almost certainly did too.

By 2002, he knew even more. That's when journalist Ken Auletta "heard from a source about the settlements that Weinstein had paid to Zelda Perkins and [Rowena] Chiu," note Kantor and Twohey. Meeting with Auletta, "Bob Weinstein handed over copies of personal checks that he had written to pay off the two women on behalf of his brother: proof, he claimed, that no company money had been used for Weinstein's personal affairs."

His concern, in other words, was to show Miramax hadn't crossed a line with the payoffs; but in confirming he'd signed the checks, he also confirmed his involvement in a cover-up.

"Bob convinced himself that his brother's problem was sex addiction, and that no one could stop Harvey Weinstein other than Harvey Weinstein," write Kantor and Twohey. "It was a convenient, and arguably disastrous, moral choice, by which Bob justified his failure to do more."

Their wording is crucial. Did Bob Weinstein make a "moral choice"? Or did he genuinely misunderstand what was taking place?

Unfortunately, it's evident he knew a lot and knew it long before The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed Harvey's actions. Other Weinstein Co. executives were so appalled that they'd started warning employees to keep notes. Finally, in 2015, the situation got so out of hand that the board put a new code of conduct in place and Harvey agreed to a revised contract, including financial penalties if he transgressed, with "$250,000 for the first settlement, $500,000 for the second, and so on, up to a million dollars, a whole fee structure for potential future allegations."

The contract, the reporters observe, "almost read as if the company expected Weinstein to keep accumulating allegations." If so, that was both morally repugnant and ethically unjustifiable. Rather than walk away, it appears, Bob simply dug himself deeper in.

The history of the world is full of men and women who stood silent, chose not to confront the crimes of others, believed that avoidance was quite a different thing than involvement. From the horrors of the Holocaust to the predations of pedophile priests, we've seen good people turn aside, blind themselves to things they should have seen. If that's what Bob did, he can't get away scot-free; if his brother is found guilty (and he's maintained his innocence), he must bear at least a ripple of responsibility.

Without a genuine apology, without a major act of restitution, he shouldn't resume his professional life as if nothing occurred. It was wrong for him to enable his brother, and it would be wrong for others to enable him now.