UPDATE, 1:15 PM: Adds statement from Diane Paulus, below.
EARLIER: Broadway, where Harvey Weinstein has worked for several years to establish himself as a major player, has begun responding to reports, last week in The New York Times and, today, in The New Yorker magazine, alleging that the producer had a long history of sexual assault on women.
“We must believe women who, often at great risk, expose harassment,” Beau Willimon wrote early today in a Twitter post. “Those who spoke out about Harvey Weinstein have shown great courage,” he added.
The posting was significant because the House of Cards creator is preparing for the Broadway opening of his play, The Parisian Woman, coincidentally top-lined by Uma Thurman, a star in the Weinstein orbit (Pulp Fiction). The show is slated to begin previews November 9 at the Hudson Theatre. Thurman has not so far made any public statement about the Weinstein reports. Responding to a request for comment from Deadline made through a spokesman for the show, her representatives offered no comment.)
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has been focussed on relief efforts for Puerto Rico, also weighed in on Twitter, even apologizing for taking so long: “I’m as appalled and repulsed by the Weinstein news as anyone with a beating heart,” he wrote.
Weinstein’s credits as Broadway producer go back to 2000, when Miramax Films co-financed a revival of The Real Thing, the hit play by Shakespeare In Love scripter Tom Stoppard. Miramax or The Weinstein Company were similarly investors in such varied projects as The Producers, Frost/Nixon and a revival of Hair, directed by Diane Paulus, that had first been presented at the Public Theater.
But it was with Finding Neverland, in 2015, that Weinstein angled to establish himself as a lead producer. Under the separate entity of Weinstein Live Entertainment, Weinstein honchoed the musical adaptation of the 2004 Miramax film, which starred Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in the Peter Pan origin tale. The production had a wobbly launch in the U.K. that Weinstein scrapped. He brought in Paulus to oversee a wholesale revamping of the show at a cost of millions.
Paulus is artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA (where the revamped Neverland had its tryout run). When Weinstein joined forces with the Madison Square Garden Company’s James Dolan (an investor in Finding Neverland) to rework the holiday stage extravaganzas at Radio City Music Hall, a Dolan property, Paulus was hired as an artistic advisor.
“While I never experienced this side of Harvey in my working relationship with him, I am appalled by his behavior,” Paulus told Deadline in an email Tuesday afternoon, “and I stand strongly with of all the women who have had the courage to come forward.”
Weinstein’s financial arrangement with the American Rep came under scrutiny recently when it was disclosed that money raised from the sale of a Weinstein gift package at an auction to support amfAR, one of his favored charities, was to be shared with the nonprofit theater. The money was promised as part of Weinstein Live Entertainment’s deal to support the Finding Neverland tryout. Disclosure of the arrangement, in which some of A.R.T.’s share of the money raised would be returned to Weinstein and his investors, led to an ongoing investigation, by New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman, of amfAR’s corporate governance, according to a report in The New York Times.
Finding Neverland closed on Broadway at a significant financial loss. A national tour of the production began its second year last week.
There are likely to be more allegations about Weinstein’s behavior from the Broadway side of the entertainment equation. Two executives working with talent on both coasts who were contacted by Deadline asserted that they long ago had stopped allowing female clients to take private meetings with the mogul. Both, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of damaging ongoing relationships, said Weinstein’s reputation was “an open secret,” and that they would not be party to even the possibility of exploitation.