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Anthony Bourdain got through almost an entire panel at the Producers Guild of America’s Produced By Conference NY on Saturday morning without commenting on the sexual assault and harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, which have dominated the news since the publication of a New York Times report exposing decades of alleged inappropriate behavior by the disgraced mogul. The CNN host’s girlfriend is actress Asia Argento, who has claimed that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her. Bourdain has been a frequent, outspoken defender of Argento’s since she went public with her story in The New Yorker. And he’s slammed Weinstein and those who may have covered up his misdeeds.
At the end of the panel — with Lydia Tenaglia, the co-founder of the production company behind Bourdain’s TV shows and films, Zero Point Zero Production — Bourdain began talking about how he has a “no assholes” rule when it comes to picking people to work with. He explained that there’s no amount of money that could make it worth working with someone truly unpleasant whose name you’d dread seeing on the caller ID. While Tenaglia joked that they can both be “assholes” from time to time, Bourdain admitted that he loves and cares about her and will answer the phone when she calls.
He recalled one specific experience with someone offering them “untold wealth,” but after the meeting they just couldn’t go through with the offer, telling each other that they didn’t want him calling them. While Bourdain didn’t reveal who that person was, it seemed he did have Weinstein on his mind on Saturday.
“It would have eaten us alive and destroyed us ultimately,” Bourdain said of the potential partnership. “It would have been a lethal compromise.”
When talking about the consequences of doing business with someone terrible, Bourdain took aim at frequent Weinstein collaborator, Quentin Tarantino.
Discussing the prospect of working with that unnamed partner, Bourdain said, “It would have been a slow-acting poison that eventually would have nibbled away at our souls until we ended up like Quentin Tarantino, looking back on a life of complicity and shame and compromise,” he said as the crowd laughed.
Tarantino has made all of his movies with Weinstein and finally broke his silence on Oct. 19 about the decades of allegations against Weinstein, telling The New York Times that he knew about the disgraced mogul’s alleged misconduct toward women and is ashamed he didn’t take a stronger stand and stop working with him.
“I knew enough to do more than I did,” Tarantino said, recalling several stories he heard about Weinstein’s alleged behavior with prominent actresses. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”
Despite hearing alarming stories, the filmmaker continued to make movies with Weinstein, which he told the Times he regrets.
The Produced By discussion, moderated by New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, explored Bourdain and Tenaglia’s creative partnership in producing such as series No Reservations and Parts Unknown and such films as Wasted!
Argento claimed in a New Yorker exposé that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her 20 years ago. In 1997, the then-21-year-old Italian actress, who had twice won the Italian equivalent of the Oscar, was invited to what she understood to be a party thrown by Miramax at the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc on the French Riviera. But when she got to the party location, it was just Weinstein alone in a hotel room. He asked her to give him a massage and after she agreed, she said, he pulled her skirt up, forced her legs apart and performed oral sex on her as she told him to stop. In the New Yorker piece, Argento said she felt guilty for years because she didn’t physically fight him off.
“The thing with being a victim is I felt responsible,” she said. “Because, if I were a strong woman, I would have kicked him in the balls and run away. But I didn’t. And so I felt responsible.”
Argento went on to have consensual sexual relations with him multiple times over the next five years, which she admits complicates her story. But she told The New Yorker, “I felt I had to. Because I had the movie coming out and I didn’t want to anger him.”
Argento’s 2000 film Scarlet Diva, which she wrote and directed, features a scene in which a heavyset producer corners Argento’s character, asks for a massage and tries to assault her. But in the movie, Argento’s character escapes.
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The Fien Print
William Jackson Harper