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Jeffrey Katzenberg has known Harvey Weinstein for more than 30 years, so it was with horror that he read the allegations of sexual harassment of multiple actresses and female employees reported by The New York Times last week.
Katzenberg, who now runs the digital media firm WndrCo, is the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios and CEO of DreamWorks Animation. In 1993, he even bought Weinstein’s Miramax production company on behalf of Disney.
Especially shocking for Katzenberg: receiving an email from a “desperate” Weinstein last weekend asking him and other top Hollywood executives to publicly vouch for Weinstein, “stating your opposition to the board [of the Weinstein Co.] firing me.”
Katzenberg was so unnerved by the request, which came amid the mounting allegations of sexual abuse by Weinstein over decades, that he didn’t quite know what to do. “I was paralyzed,” Katzenberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I didn’t know whether I should not respond, or respond and express the way I truly felt.”
So Katzenberg says he called a handful of friends and peers in the industry that he trusts, and he asked them for advice. “I have to say there was not a single person that didn’t say, ‘You need to answer this,'” he recalls. “So I sat down and wrote a response and I called them back and I read it to them. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t say, ‘Send it.'”
Katzenberg sent his response about an hour and a half after he received the email from Weinstein. A few hours after that, the board of The Weinstein Co. terminated Harvey Weinstein.
Now, Katzenberg is sharing that email publicly because he believes it’s important to show that many in Hollywood share this view.
Hey Harvey, Here is the bottom line. You stated in your email below that “A lot of the allegations are false as you know.” Well actually I don’t “know” and given the timing of the circumstances, I have no way of knowing.
However, you yourself, in your quotes, have acknowledged that you have behaved inappropriately…so it seems to me we are now down to degrees of horrible.
You have done terrible things to a number of women over a period of years.
I cannot in any way say this is OK with me…It’s not at all, and I am sickened by it, angry with you and incredibly disappointed in you.
There appear to be two Harvey Weinsteins…one that I have known well, appreciated and admired and another that I have not known at all.
As someone who has been a friend of yours for 30 years, I’m available to give you advice on how to at least try to make amends, if possible address those that you’ve wronged, and just possibly find a path to heal and redeem yourself. Having watched your reactions, seen the actions you have taken and read your statement, I will tell you, in my opinion, you have gone about this all wrong and you are continuing to make a horrible set of circumstances even worse.
I doubt this is what you want to hear from me and most likely you aren’t interested in my advice but this is the way I see it. I remain available. JK.
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