As the scandal-ravaged Weinstein Company looks to secure a financial lifeline, board members Tarak Ben Ammar and Lance Maerov blame attorney David Boies for failing to disclose that he had invested $30 million in three TWC films while simultaneously negotiating Harvey Weinstein’s 2015 contract extension. They also contend that Boies denied them access to key documents in Weinstein’s personnel file during an inquiry in late 2014 and early 2015.
The pair told the Wall Street Journal that Boies did not disclose that he had personally invested in TWC’s slate, including $20 million in star-crossed Natalie Portman Western Jane Got a Gun. Boies issued a statement to the newspaper insisting, “the board was aware of the investments” through a film production entity called Boies/Schiller and further contends there was no conflict of interest.
The directors say that had they known of Boies’ personal stake in the films, “We would have immediately said to David Boies, ‘You can’t negotiate Harvey’s contract,’ ” Ben Ammar was quoted as saying. Jane Got a Gun finally got a release in 2016, grossing just $1.5 million, after surviving lawsuits, cast changes and Relativity’s bankruptcy. Boies personally also put $5 million into Matthew McConaughey drama Gold and Boies/Schiller another $5 million in upcoming Kevin Hart-Bryan Cranston film The Upside, a title not yet released.
Boies, Ben Ammar and Maerov did not respond to requests for comment from Deadline. The news comes a week after the New York Times cut ties with Boies after The New Yorker revealed details of the elaborate spying efforts he orchestrated on behalf of Weinstein.
Ben Ammar and Maerov appeared to be moving to insulate themselves from liability as the company lurches toward a likely morass of lawsuits triggered by the avalanche of accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct by Harvey Weinstein. The board, which now includes just the two independent directors and Bob Weinstein, fired Weinstein on October 8. Bob Weinstein offered no comment to the Journal. A spokeswoman for the disgraced ex-mogul has consistently maintained his denial of all allegations of non-consensual sex.
While the greatest crisis for TWC has unfolded over the last month and a half, Harvey Weinstein was already involved in situations that had the board concerned ahead of his 2015 contract renewal. This period is when the dual role Boies played damaged the company, Maerov and Ben Ammar assert. Board members had flagged questions about Weinstein’s expenses and then had a keen interest in material relating to an allegation he had groped an Italian supermodel, which received coverage in the New York media in the spring of 2015.
Rather than give direct access, Boies pushed to have a third party, Rodgin Cohen of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, review the personnel file and write a report to the board, the Journal reported. The directors agreed to the review reluctantly after failing to obtain the file themselves, the people familiar with the matter told the Journal. Cohen’s report found “no unresolved claims that could result in liability to TWC or its directors” and “no pending or threatened litigation.”
The Weinstein Company has been abandoned by would-be saviors, including Colony Capital and Fortress Investment Group, each of which have considered investments in the company. Colony withdrew last month, and Reuters reported that Fortress has also passed, but a person familiar with the talks says the private equity firm is still in the mix.
Reuters also noted that Goldman Sachs has written down its investment in TWC to zero, though the stake had already been reduced to a fairly insignificant six-figure sum, so the move seems to have little more than symbolic weight. (Goldman had led the Weinsteins’ fundraising efforts before the 2005 launch of the company and had a long affiliation with the company before selling is stake in the library to AMC Networks in 2015.)
Last week, TWC was also hit with a lawsuit demanding repayment of a $45 million loan.
Mike Fleming Jr. contributed to this report.