Fallout continues for Weinstein and his former company
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fallout from sexual harassment and abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein continued Wednesday as the disgraced producer was hit with a new lawsuit, lost an honorary degree and his former company forced to sell off a major film asset because of the scandal.
Weinstein and his former company were hit Wednesday with a proposed class action lawsuit that targets what it called the producer’s “casting couch” harassment and abuses. The suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court by an unnamed aspiring actress who claims Weinstein harassed her in a building occupied by his former company, Miramax, also names The Weinstein Co. as a defendant and accuses its leadership of being complicit in Weinstein’s systematic harassment and abuse of women.
Representatives for Weinstein and the company did not respond to messages Wednesday seeking comment.
The company is reeling from the allegations against its co-founder, and on Wednesday announced it had sold the distribution rights to its biggest upcoming release, “Paddington 2.” Warner Bros. will now release the film, which is based on late author Michael Bond’s famous “Paddington Bear” stories.
“Paddington” producer David Heyman earlier said he intended that the Weinstein Co. name to be “nowhere near” ″Paddington 2,” which was wholly financed by Studiocanal.
Trustees from the State University of New York and the SUNY chancellor on Wednesday revoked the degree granted to Weinstein in 2001. He was an English major at the University at Buffalo from 1969-1973.
In a statement, the University at Buffalo says Weinstein’s alleged conduct is “inconsistent” with the values and policies of the university and “contradicts the spirit of the honorary degree” and “undermines the accomplishments” that were cited to bolster the awarding of the degree.
It is the latest honor lost by Weinstein, who has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and received lifetime bans from the television academy and producers guild.
Dozens of women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o and Ashley Judd, have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, while actresses Asia Argento, Rose McGowan and others have accused the Oscar-winner of raping them.
Weinstein’s representatives have denied all accusations of non-consensual sex, but no charges have been filed.
Weinstein, 65, is being investigated by police in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London.
The harassment and abuse allegations against Weinstein have led to numerous women coming forward with allegations of harassment and abuse against powerful men, including actor Kevin Spacey, numerous entertainment industry executives and politicians in the United States and abroad.
Actor Terry Crews named a talent agency executive he said groped him, likening the experience on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday morning to being a prisoner of war. Crews said he felt emasculated by the incident, and he has filed a police report.
The scandal in Hollywood has prompted Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to establish a task force to handle any forthcoming criminal complaints. The advocacy group Women in Film also plans to make a help line and panel of pro-bono legal experts available beginning next month to provide counseling, referrals and legal advice to harassment victims
The Workshop production company announced Wednesday it will begin work this month on an eight-part documentary series that will be called “Shame: The Story of Sexual Harassment in Hollywood.” The project aims to explore issues starting with the “casting couch mentality” that dates back to the days of silent films. It will stretch from the disgrace of “Fatty” Arbuckle nearly a century ago to modern-day offenders like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, shining a light on how actors, directors and producers have routinely used their power to engage in unsolicited, abusive behavior.
AP Film Writer Jake Coyle and Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy in New York and AP Entertainment Writers Sandy Cohen and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report.