12:05pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Harvey Weinstein May Be Forced to Address Rape Claims at Upcoming Trial
In the first week of December, at a trial that might have otherwise flown under the radar, Harvey Weinstein could take the witness stand to be questioned under oath about the sexual assault allegations that have been circling the embattled movie mogul.
The trial concerns a fraud claim from director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley and Me) asserting The Weinstein Co. buried his 2014 film One Chance after allegedly agreeing to a wide release. Frankel is seeking millions of dollars in damages after the film wasn't put on a minimum number of screens as allegedly called for by contract. One Chance starred James Corden, who caused an uproar for making Harvey Weinstein jokes at a charity event in Los Angeles last month.
Although the One Chance case seemingly has nothing to do with Weinstein's female accusers, Weinstein's "unfavorable reputation" and "bullying tactics" have been discussed in the litigation. What's more, Weinstein's honesty also seems to be front and center. Frankel asserts that Weinstein never intended to pay an agreed-upon penalty for the movie not going wide. This could be an opening to exploring what's been circulating in the press in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, in a motion filed last week, The Weinstein Co. asked the judge to preclude evidence and testimony related to "highly inflammatory and widespread news stories alleging Mr. Weinstein was involved in sexual harassment, assault, or other incidents," plus criminal investigations, Weinstein's removal from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, settlements, and more. It's argued these references are "irrelevant, highly prejudicial, and would lead to substantial delay and confusion at the trial."
The attorney charged with fighting the motion and potentially the one who will be interrogating Harvey Weinstein about sexual assault is none other than Marty Singer, who is not exactly identified with this sort of thing. After all, Singer was Bill Cosby's longtime lawyer, and he has been recently and aggressively responding to sexual abuse allegations against clients Brett Ratner and Danny Masterson.
Singer tells THR that he will definitely be opposing TWC's bid to keep the allegations against Weinstein from trial. He wants Weinstein on the witness stand, and if Weinstein doesn't show up, Singer teases the videotaped deposition he's got in his back pocket.
The Weinstein Co. is desperate to avoid all of this. Knowing that the mere mention of the Weinstein name at trial could be a loser, the judge is also being asked to do something rather extraordinary.
The company's lawyers at Fox Rothschild write, "Based upon the Weinstein Allegations and the media onslaught arising from them, TWC seeks through this motion that no reference be made to Mr. Weinstein and that 'The Weinstein Company' be referred to wherever possible by the initials 'TWC.'"
The One Chance trial also involves another attorney whose appearance could raise eyebrows given the circumstances.
Patty Glaser is representing William Morris Endeavor, Frankel's talent agency, in the litigation. She, of course, has also been representing Harvey Weinstein himself in a wrongful termination arbitration against The Weinstein Co. A win for Frankel would likely benefit WME since it gets a commission on his earnings.
Is that a conflict? Would The Weinstein Co. attempt to treat it as such?
The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Glaser and Harvey Weinstein's representative to hear their perspective. This elicited a response from crisis publicist Mike Sitrick, who said, "This is not a conflict. She is representing a witness in the case."