Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is taking a leave of absence from his company following a New York Times story that he sexually harassed female assistants, executives and actresses for decades. The Times report also says Weinstein settled complaints with at least eight women.
Weinstein is one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. He co-founded Miramax, which has produced such Academy Award-winning films as Pulp Fiction, Chicago, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. He and his brother, Bob, head The Weinstein Co. Along with movies, the Weinsteins have produced a number of Tony Award-winning shows on Broadway.
Harvey Weinstein is also known for his temper and, the Times story says, his inappropriate behavior toward women has been discussed within his companies for years. The story begins with actress Ashley Judd being invited to what she thought was a business breakfast with Weinstein at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles. Instead, she says, she was sent to his room where he asked her to give him a massage or watch him shower.
"How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?" Judd is quoted as saying in the article.
Weinstein released a statement in response to the allegations. He apologizes for some of his behavior by saying that times have changed since he began in the movie business:
"I came of age in the 60's and 70's, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.
I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.
I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.
I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it."
At the same time, one of Weinstein's lawyers, Lisa Bloom, released a statement saying "he denies many of the accusations as patently false."
Weinstein says he will take time to "conquer his demons." He also says he will use the time to fight the National Rifle Association. Weinstein is a longtime donor to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.