UPDATED 9:06 AM With statement from Harvey Weinstein.
In the final frantic days before the New Yorker and The New York Times exposed his sexual misconduct, Harvey Weinstein allegedly spent his time searching for and deleting sensitive documents, scouring ex-employees’ online communications and hunting for the person who leaked incriminating information to the press.
A new piece in Vanity Fair details the one-time media mogul’s final hours, as Weinstein awaited publication. The producer veered from strategies that worked for him in the past — hiring a high-powered legal team to try to thwart publication — to hiring former intelligence operatives to identify his accusers.
Weinstein … oscillated between anger and acceptance, believing that he could muscle his way out of his predicament or, at the very least, contain the fallout. To some he appeared obsessed with seeking revenge. As one T.W.C. executive put it, “Harvey’s concern was who did him in, not what he had done.” [Weinstein publicity head Nicole] Quenqua added that Weinstein was determined to find out who was providing reporters with a road map to his personal life, angrily confiding in her, she said, even as he fished for information: “Somebody is giving The New York Times everything. They’re giving them my drivers’ phone numbers. My entire address book. . . . They’re calling people from my past. They’re calling people in Italy. They’re just calling everyone.”
As he braced for publication, Weinstein created a war room of sorts, consulting a veritable who’s who of legal advisors and crisis communications specialists, sometimes calling out of the blue, informally, to get their opinions. The list included celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom (daughter of defense attorney Gloria Allred), longtime political consultant Lanny Davis (Bill Clinton’s White House crisis manager) and Charles Harder, who recently represented Donald Trump in an unsuccessful attempt to stop publication of the West Wing tell-all book Fire and Fury. Also contacted experts who were neither engaged or paid, like communications strategist Matthew Hiltzik, who left Weinstein’s Miramax in 2005 and former sex-crimes prosecutor and novelist Linda Fairstein.
At one point, Weinstein allegedly tried to destroy one sensitive document, “HW friends,” that listed the names of 63 women broken down by location — New York, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom and Cannes, France. It’s not clear whether he “behaved inappropriately” toward those on the list — only, that he wanted this particular document deleted, though Vanity Fair said it obtained a copy.
Frank Gil, The Weinstein Co.’s vice president of human resources, made a rare Sunday trip to the company’s Greenwich Street headquarters, and a second visit to the Hudson Street facility that housed Dimension Films. He “may have been responsible for the disappearance of personnel files,” the company said in a statement. The dossier was found to be missing all material from 2016 and 2017, sources told the publication, as well as the file belonging to a former Weinstein assistant, Sandeep Rehal, who recently sued the company for discrimination and harassment.
At times, Weinstein exuded bravado, “Everything’s going to be fine,” TWC head of publicity Nicole Quenqua recalled him assuring her as he ate a serving of sorbet covered with colored sprinkles. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I mean, I might have done some things that are immoral. But I didn’t do anything that was illegal.”
Quenqua told Vanity Fair she was unprepared for the extent and severity of the allegations.
“When I got the ‘push’ notification and I read that story at my desk, my mouth dropped open and there were tears. I was shocked and shaking. Then Harvey called. I couldn’t believe he was calling me.” Weinstein, she contended, was requesting that she bring her PR squad to help manage the crisis. She responded, “My team? No, my team’s not coming over.”
Frank Gil reacted differently, according to sources who spoke to Vanity Fair. He supposedly called Weinstein and offered to provide proof — in exchange for a seven-figure payment — that T.W.C. president David Glasser and Weinstein’s brother, Bob, had leaked damaging details to the press. Glasser and Bob Weinstein both dismissed those allegations, describing them, respectively, as “preposterous” and a “total fabrication.”
Weinstein reportedly countered Gil’s request, promising to double Gil’s salary if he would share information, in person, with one of Weinstein’s attorneys. Gil did meet with Bloom, though the Weinstein Co. said he was suspended “after discovering that he sought compensation from Harvey Weinstein in exchange for private information about company executives.”
Gil resigned, and Weinstein was fired the following day.
Weinstein described Gil as “an invaluable employee and friend of the company.”
Come January, months after the damaging news accounts that sparked the #MeToo movement, investigators informed Weinstein Company executives that the company’s email had been compromised. Sources familiar with the breach said Weinstein hired an investigative firm to uncover potential online communications between former employees and reporters for the Times and The New Yorker in an effort to identify the source of the news leaks.
Weinstein issued the following statement regarding the Vanity Fair story.
“Mr. Weinstein has dedicated his life to building The Weinstein Company and before that Miramax, and he continues to want only what is in the best interests of The Weinstein Company moving forward. Because of ongoing litigation, however, Mr. Weinstein is prevented from responding to the many provably false assertions made, but looks forward to doing so at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.”