Networks

Weinstein TV Production Business Shaken Amid Harassment Scandal

NBC questioned for possibly bungling scoop 10/13/2017 9:42 AM Eastern
Harvey Weinstein
Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct scandal is forcing the television business to scramble as well.

Networks that air shows form the TV arm of The Weinstein Co. are considering what steps to take. Many are removing the Weinstein name from the credits they run. Some projects might be canceled.

And NBC News is under scrutiny for not breaking the story after one of its former anchors had obtained tapes and interviews documenting Weinstein’s activities.

The New York Times and The New Yorker last week broke the story of how Weinstein sexually harassed actresses and other women, threatening to hurt their careers if they didn’t agree to his advances. The New Yorker’s story was reported by Ronan Farrow, who had been an MSNBC anchor and continued to work as a freelancer at the network.

“We didn't feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air it,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim said during an internal Town Hall style meeting at NBC Wednesday. "We supported him and gave him resources to report that story over many, many months... The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us."

But when Farrow appeared on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, he said, "I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier," he said. "And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that, and it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC."

Reports continue to surface about whether NBC News told Farrow to drop the story and about the pressure that may have been applied to NBC by Weinstein’s powerful Hollywood allies.

Last year, NBC was scooped by the Washington Post on the story about Access Hollywood’s tape of then presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about groping women, even though NBC owns Access Hollywood and was aware of the footage.

In addition to award-winning movies, Weinstein’s studio, The Weinstein Co., produces TV shows on a number of networks and streaming services.

The Weinstein Co. is looking to take the mogul’s name off its door and has hired two ad agencies to create a new identity for the studio, the Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times reported that talent agencies would no longer do business with the company and that it might be put up for sale.

After the scandal hit, the studio’s TV division began reaching out to networks that air the shows it produces. The company let Viacom’s MTV and soon to be launched Paramount Network know that Weinstein’s name would no longer appear among the executive producers during the credits of shows, including Waco, which is expected to be a big part of the Paramount Network’s rebranding effort.

Peaky Blinders, which runs on Netflix, also won’t stream with the Weinstein Co.’s name at the start of the show, according to Deadline.com.

Apple terminated plans for a series on Elvis Presley that was going to be produced by The Weinstein Co., the WSJ reported.

Also in danger of getting pulled are two Weinstein projects for Amazon Prime: The Romanoffs, an eight-episode, $70 million production, and an untitled David O. Russell drama starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore with a two season $160 million price tag, according to Deadline.com.

The Weinstein Co. has made previous attempts to sell its TV business. In 2015 there were reports that Weinstein wanted $900 million for the business. ITV was reportedly in talks to buy The Weinstein Co.’s TV business but backed away. The cancellation of the big-budget series Marco Polo at Netflix left long-running unscripted hit Project Runway as the company’s main revenue generator in TV.

Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in the entertainment industry and over the years was slipped on the air, but in comedy bits rather than newscasts.

During the 2013 Academy Awards, host and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane told the nominees for best supporting actress, “You no longer have to pretend you’re attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”

And in an episode of NBC’s sitcom 30 Rock, set at a network comedy show, Jane Krakowski’s character illustrates a claim that she’s not afraid of anyone in Hollywood by noting she “turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions out of five.”

Payoffs were made to women who complained about unwanted touching, sexual harassment and other improper activities by Weinstein while Weinstein ran both The Weinstein Co. and its predecessor, Miramax.

Miramax was acquired by the Walt Disney Co. Both Michael Eisner, who was Disney CEO when Weinstein worked there, and current Disney CEO Bob Iger made comments about Weinstein.

“Fired Weinsteins because they were irresponsible, and Harvey was an incorrigible bully. Had no idea he was capable of these horrible actions,” Eisner said in a tweet.

"Harvey Weinstein’s reported behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable, and it has no place in our society," said Iger in a statement.

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