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Harvey Weinstein once was one of the most active buyers on the indie film circuit. Nearly a year after his epic downfall, his presence is still being felt, albeit in a much different form.
Three films are being shopped whose storylines are built around the disgraced mogul. On the narrative side, a secret script by Kitty Green (Casting JonBenet) is making the rounds and has Toronto buyers riveted. Currently untitled, the story is told from the perspective of a real-life Weinstein underling. James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain), who often competed with Weinstein for prestige movies when he ran Focus Features, is on board to produce alongside Scott Macaulay.
“It’s sort of Devil Wears Prada-esque — a young girl begins working for a monster boss,” says an executive who landed a watermarked copy of the script. The assistant is never named, but for those who worked at The Weinstein Co., they think she is easy to identify. But project insiders say she isn’t one single person and that Green spent 10 months scouring thousands of stories in the public record and talked to scores of people to create the fictional character (UTA is repping Green). While employed at TWC, many allegedly suffered such indignities as coordinating Weinstein’s erectile dysfunction medicine injections and cleaning up his office after actress meetings, both of which are featured in the script.
Weinstein’s ex-wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, is a character in the script, which depicts the Shakespeare in Love producer having sex in his office with an unnamed actress (it is unclear whether it is consensual).
On the documentary front, Embankment Films is selling U.S. rights to Weinstein (formerly titled Citizen Harvey) from two-time Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man, Man on Wire). BAFTA nominee Ursula Macfarlane (Charlie Hebdo) is directing. The company already has sold out most of the world since it introduced the project to buyers in Cannes.
“The film is an account of one of the greatest Hollywood scandals of all time, but it goes far beyond Hollywood and should pose challenging questions about global society, its leaders and where we go from here,” says Embankment’s Hugo Grumbar.
Also being shopped is Barry Avrich’s The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst Kept Secret. Vertical Entertainment already acquired U.S. rights to the doc and is planning a fourth-quarter release this year. CBC is handling international territories at the market.
Those three films will be competing with at least one other high-profile project about Weinstein. In April, Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and Brad Pitt acquired rights to Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s series of New York Times articles that started the avalanche of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Weinstein.
Though the Weinstein story has sparked news coverage worldwide, it remains to be seen if international audiences will want to see Weinstein in a multiplex. For one, Polina Schlicht, who buys for Ukraine, remains skeptical.
“Personally, I would enjoy watching [these films], but it’s not really for Ukraine because his behavior isn’t seen as a big deal there, and the story hasn’t found much traction,” she says.
This story also appears in The Hollywood Reporter’s Sept. 7 daily issue at the Toronto Film Festival.