Harvey Weinstein Pleads His Case at Explosive Board Meeting

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the mogul's concern with taking a leave of absence was that there were no assurances he would be allowed to return at some point in the future.

While Harvey Weinstein told The New York Times that he is planning a leave of absence as co-chairman of The Weinstein Co. following the paper's exposé, the mogul doesn't want to be banished from his company permanently. 

Last night, the Weinstein Co. board held an emergency meeting — a scream-filled session of infighting among members — in New York with Weinstein present. At the meeting, Weinstein's concern with taking a leave from the board and his role as co-chairman was that there were no assurances he would be allowed to return in the future, a source tells The Hollywood Reporter. On Friday, Dirk Ziff resigned from TWC's board.

A statement from The Weinstein Co. announcing a leave of absence for Weinstein and an internal investigation is said to be forthcoming as early as Friday, this source says. Under one of the proposals discussed, co-chairman Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein's brother, and TWC president/COO David Glasser would take over the company.

The board convened hours after the publication of an investigation in the Times detailing allegations of sexual harassment by actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, as well as former female assistants and TWC employees.

Weinstein's quick action to step aside was intended, at least in part, to appease filmmakers, agents and producers who do business with TWC. But the stunning turn of events puts the fate of the company in doubt, since Harvey Weinstein — however polarizing — has been its figurehead, while Bob Weinstein has kept a lower profile.

Glasser has long been Harvey Weinstein’s No. 2, playing a key role in dealmaking and running all aspects of the company, including helping to guide the film slate.

In addition to Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the TWC board includes Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, financier Tarak Ben Ammar and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, as well as Richard Koenigsberg, Lance Maerov, Tim Sarnoff and Dirk Ziff. The board members are said to have challenged Harvey Weinstein directly, and the mogul fired back that he would survive the scandal. 

Earlier Thursday, Weinstein's lawyer Charles Harder announced that he would be taking legal action against the Times, writing in an email: "The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein. It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses." Lisa Bloom, famous for working with victims of sexual assault and harassment, is also representing Weinstein. 

The Weinstein brothers launched TWC in 2005 after leaving Miramax in an acrimonious split with Disney. Miramax, launched in 1979, was unparalleled in its success during the 1980s and 1990s, turning out such hits as Clerks, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love and scoring numerous Oscar nominations and best-picture wins for films such as The English Patient and Chicago.

TWC has likewise enjoyed success. The King's Speech (2010), one of the top-grossing independent films of all time, won the Oscar for best picture and was followed a year later by a best-picture win for The Artist. However, TWC has largely struggled in film the past two years while attempting to build its television business.