EXCLUSIVE: The allegations of sexual harassment and rapes against Harvey Weinstein has led to an unrelenting onslaught of nasty press for those left behind at The Weinstein Company following the firing of Weinstein by the board of directors. After being hit hard by a Variety article this morning over a business deal that happened over 20 years ago, TWC president and COO David Glasser wanted to set the record straight on that, and just about everything involving the troubled film/Tv company that I could think to ask him. This included why he won’t resign, and why The Weinstein Company as we know it is over.
DEADLINE: The Weinstein Company has become a toxic swirl, and Variety today published an article linking you to Roy Ageloff, a felon convicted of money laundering with ties to organized crime, who invested in early films with you. What do you have to say about that?
GLASSER: Anybody who knows me knows this isn’t factual, at all. It is a hype spin story, that makes headlines at a moment when everything is so toxic because of what is going on with Harvey. I was probably 24, and me and some friends met this charismatic guy from Wall Street. We went to his offices, with hundreds of employees, plaques on the wall with everything he had taken public. We were young foreign sales guys, and here was this guy who wanted to invest in Hollywood. It was your dream come true overnight. He wanted to make movies which meant we didn’t have to pre-sell them, you could just go and make a couple of movies. These were the days when all these Wall Street and international guys were coming in and money was everywhere. He seemed nice, and we made a deal to make a couple of movies.
DEADLINE: Who were your other movie business partners and are they still prominent in Hollywood?
GLASSER: They are very prominent people in the industry right now.
GLASSER: With everything that is happening in these stories right now, why would I want to drag other people through the mud? It’s not who I am, to connect them to this. They didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did I. We met a guy, borrowed money to make a couple movies. This guy wasn’t charged with anything then, or being sued by anyone. This was 1996. Google doesn’t come out until 1998, so it wasn’t as easy as typing in a name and seeing the one article, written about this guy. It wasn’t like I’d go to a fancy law firm and do a LexisNexis search. I was a young guy, what did I know? We signed a contract and that was it. We made the movies. One was successful, the other wasn’t. Later on, he gets into trouble for all kinds of stock stuff. We had no idea. We were like, okay, this guy we got in bed with was a bad guy. This town unfortunately has a lot of good and bad investments in it. At one point, the people prosecuting came in to ask me questions. I provided them all my emails, contracts, every document. They said, ‘hey, you should know this was not a good guy.’ I said I realize that now but you can look back to my contracts and see we did everything legitimately. What they feared was that this guy invested in movies that didn’t really exist. But they were real movies, they existed, they provided a return. That’s exactly what happened here. How this is some salacious headline today, doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve always disclosed this to any job I’ve had and been forthright about it. I was never in any trouble for doing anything. The money I owed I’ve been paying back.
This story has been around years, and you’ve written about it in the past. People have mentioned it in stories. But we’ve all done business with not great people in our careers and you don’t know it until you do. I’m looking at an email I just got from a prominent reporter telling me, “We’re not touching the Variety story. It stinks to high heaven, it’s a leak from somebody and I don’t think it hurts you.”
DEADLINE: Why did this leak now?
GLASSER: Somebody has taken this out of my employment contract at The Weinstein Company.
DEADLINE: How do you know that?
GLASSER: In my employment file, I have always disclosed this. I’ve been forthright that I did some business in 1994 and one of the guys that invested with me, I didn’t know about it at the time, but this is what happened. I wrote it in my own handwriting in the document I filled out, because I didn’t want anyone to come back and say, why didn’t you disclose this? That’s exactly what Variety was reading from, when they called me yesterday.
DEADLINE: How can you be sure?
GLASSER: They literally were reading it, verbatim, off of what I had written.
DEADLINE: Who do you think leaked your employment file?
GLASSER: I have my suspicions right now, as to what’s going on. There was an incident in the offices last Friday that leads me to believe you will soon be seeing something coming out about what exactly happened.
DEADLINE: Were other employment files stolen? There is a feeling around town right now that Harvey feels he was rolled under the bus by his brother in those press reports, and he’s eager to return the favor. Is that what we’re talking about here?
GLASSER: I can’t say specifically. What I’m telling you is you will find out in the coming days. Me, as management of the company, I do not have access to employment files. I can’t check Harvey’s, or my own. If someone complains about me, I don’t have the right to touch it, to alter it. I can tell you, that something happened there.
DEADLINE: Police matter?
GLASSER: I think it will become one.
DEADLINE: This adds to the craziness that has been going on at The Weinstein Company since The New York Times article came out. People in the industry speculate and press has reported that Harvey blames Bob. The scenario sounds almost like a brother trying to burn his brother’s baseball card collection and realizing he might have burned down the whole house. The feeling is a feud between the brothers was exacerbated by the passing of their mother, and this is going to be a scorched earth feud that continues. Maybe your experience today is shrapnel from that?
GLASSER: Look, I can’t say exactly what happened or didn’t. I don’t know and I would be speculating. What I can tell you is no question somebody here wanted to make sure this got out. However they got the documents, The New York Times delivered a powerful story they worked on for some time. They got some amazing women to stand up and speak out and we’re still having a hard time here, understanding how this could go on for so long.
DEADLINE: Today’s article said that you returned to TWC after nearly going to DreamWorks Animation, but you didn’t pass the vetting process because of this old incident. What about that?
GLASSER: This became a rumor mill thing. I had not signed yet with DreamWorks, and Harvey was in the middle of a TV division sale. I was away on my 20th wedding anniversary and Bob Weinstein called me. We were a month away from closing this TV sale, and they gave me a huge incentive, a piece of equity in the TV business. What we’re going through right now with everything dwindling is so heartbreaking for me, because I pushed all my chips into the table, on the TV business, to come back. This town is full of rumors and I think people who know me know who I am. I have been the buffer over ten years between Harvey and Bob and the talent, the agents and everybody, across the board. I think I’ve earned a fair reputation. I feel hurt and angry about what’s going on, and very sorry for all the people out there who’ve been hurt by Harvey. I mean the people depicted in the articles, and also the people internally here. Me included.
DEADLINE: Explain the latter part.
GLASSER: I was the buffer. I absorbed his strong willed very harsh tactics, and made it a safe, strong place to work. Anybody says anything different internally, I’d be surprised. There’s not a single employee who ever came to me and said, David, I don’t feel safe working here, or I have a problem working here. We’re a strong group. One of the reasons I have not resigned yet is I have been trying to find a safe landing for my employees, and the filmmakers I have worked hard to protect. I have had five job offers in seven days. One I really like. I’ve chosen to wait, to sit here and take this and watch the burning of a building that every single employee in this company worked to hard to build. I walk down this office and look at each person and realize what they did along the way. The Weinstein Company was not built by one man. It was built by a team. That is why so many people have left and gone on to have successful careers. They’ve come out of here with incredible resumes and drive to do amazing things.
DEADLINE: To put a fine point on it, are you denying the DreamWorks Animation offer evaporated because of the vetting of that situation that got reported on today?
DEADLINE: The company took a major blow yesterday. Two days after the board issued a statement professing no knowledge of abuse and payoffs, board member Lance Maerov admitted to The New York Times yesterday that he knew of several settlements he thought were based on consensual acts. It made the town feel they weren’t told the truth and turned off agents who said they would not sell material to the company or put their clients in future projects. Can you explain the discrepancy between the board statement and what was said in The Times? And, what did you know as the right hand of Harvey for so many years?
GLASSER: There’s a big distinction that many people don’t realize. I do not sit on the board. My CFO doesn’t sit on the board. We’re involved in some matters with the board. But things like, when Harvey’s employment file was leaked and people asked how could these clauses have been negotiated…I was never involved in Harvey’s employment contract. I never saw Harvey’s employment contract and neither did the senior management of this company.
DEADLINE: You mean the 2015 contract that reportedly allowed Harvey Weinstein to financially settle these kinds of disputes, but not lose his job?
GLASSER: Yes, I never saw that or was given a copy. That was between the board, and Harvey. I can’t speak of why the board does certain things, and what they did and didn’t know. What I can tell you is what I, and we, knew.
DEADLINE: Tell us.
GLASSER: Here’s what I knew, just so we are clear and it’s in black and white, on the record. I would never, ever, allow any employee to walk into the doors of this company, or a piece of talent to work with us, if I knew my boss was sexually assaulting women. That is unacceptable, in every way. I hate what he did and it makes me sick to my stomach. What I was aware of was a verbal argument he had in 2009 or around then with a woman in publicity. I was aware of Emily Nestor, a receptionist who complained to one of my guys in distribution, that Harvey had asked her out, and then had breakfast with her and that was the extent of it. I and other senior managers went to HR and checked this out. There are emails from me that back this up. I emailed my office manager, I asked to meet with Miss Nestor, all documented in emails saying I wanted to know what happened and if there was anything to worry about. I was given a letter back, from my HR department after I sent the emails, that Miss Nestor thanks us, she does not want to continue the conversation or do anything in any way shape or form.
I knew about the Ambra [Battilana Gutierrez] situation, the whole world did. We were all concerned about it because it started in our offices. We were told by the HR team, and the attorneys, that there was going to be no charges against him. I don’t want to quote it wrong but I think the term used was ‘un-credible witness,’ and we couldn’t do anything about it. We are all aware of, and the one that caused us grave concern, was the 2015 email about Lauren O’Connor, which launched an investigation. We as management had asked for things. For example, the board had ordered at one point — because there were questions — was there anything we needed to know in [Harvey’s] employment file to worry about? We didn’t hide from this, we wanted to know and so did the board. So the board hired, I think the attorney’s name was Rodgin Cohen from Sullivan & Cromwell, to do a review of Harvey’s employment file. That letter came back which we as management received a copy of, that said there was nothing in there other than the Emily Nestor situation; there was nothing to worry about, there were no concerns. The letter said Harvey was perfectly fine to manage this company. Senior management received a copy from the board to look at.
Look, we always thought and heard he was unfaithful, but we always thought those relationships were consensual and never heard otherwise. I only wish I knew these singular events were part of a much bigger pattern, so we could have done more to stop this. But I can tell you that within the walls of our environment, within the walls of our offices, with the talent…I’ve never had an agent call me up and say, ‘Oh my god, we have a problem.’ I never had any talent call me up and say that. Or an employee or a board member tell me, other than what I just told you we knew. There have been tons of complaints about Harvey’s brashness, the yelling and screaming. That happened all the time. But I don’t think there’s a single person in this industry who had not been subjected to that. We all took it. Probably wrong now, going back and looking at it, and I wish I had done more to change that. But I and my entire staff took it, too. I’m one of the people who took it most because I tried to be the buffer. When an employee came to me after a tough fight with Harvey, I was the guy who stepped in, and took the hit with Harvey and told him the bad news. When an agent called up to say a client had pulled out of a movie, I’m the one who delivered that message to Harvey. When someone quit and didn’t want to tell Harvey, I was the one who told Harvey. When we lost money on a deal and it was really bad, I’m the one who went and told Harvey.
People didn’t want to do that and I became that buffer. But to insinuate that the management of this company hid stuff, or swept stuff under the carpet, it’s simply not true. It’s not who I am, it’s not what we are, as a company. By that, I mean the senior management of this company.
DEADLINE: We read in The New Yorker about a honeypot scenario where meetings started with female assistants who would disappear, and then Harvey would appear in a bathrobe.
GLASSER: I never saw any honeypot setup. I’ve never seen Harvey Weinstein in a robe, or in a set up like that.
DEADLINE: You read about the private planes, and Harvey living like a sultan and doing all this stuff with money provided by Disney or the TWC backers. How did all this stuff, eight payoffs get made, under the noses of this corporation?
GLASSER: I’ve asked the same question and that is why we launched a full investigation, to get those answers. New York Times did a great job describing who got money. For me and what I’ve seen, I never signed off on any payment going out the door for a settlement. Nor did I ever sign off on a settlement on its own, for sexual harassment or any of these things he’s being accused of.
DEADLINE: Rose McGowan has hinted for years she had been assaulted. There are so many prominent actresses who came out with horror stories. How could this have been a secret?
GLASSER: I have heard consistently this week, how could The Weinstein Company in the time I was here allow for all these high profile names to happen? If I had known about it, I would have done something about it. I can’t speak for the regime at Miramax, where the majority of these things happened.
DEADLINE: Harvey’s name was stripped off the movie and TV projects. Is that enough? Will these series get made with The Weinstein Company a part of it?
GLASSER: No. My opinion is that The Weinstein Company as it sits today, is done. The reality is, in its current form, the name, the brand has been completely torpedoed and destroyed. I do feel there are probably other incarnations we have to look at. The most important thing, the number one thing I want out there…the reason I am still standing today when everyone out there who knows and likes me is saying, you don’t deserve deserve this, jump ship, get out…is because I want to make sure the films and television shows and staff here can land in a great place. There might be some other version of this company that makes sense, and that’s what the board needs to review right now to figure out what the best options are.
DEADLINE: Are you part of those discussions, or will you leave? There have been rumors that you and Bob Weinstein might leave [Weinstein subsequently issued a statement that the company will continue releasing the finished films].
GLASSER: I can’t speak for Bob but he has made an incredible amount of money under the Dimension label. For me, I have been heavily focused these days on TV and film. We’re not really sure how the board will decide to proceed.
DEADLINE: There is expectation of a big legal showdown between Harvey, Bob and the board. There could be class action lawsuits. We broke a story the other day you were hiring an ad agency to change the name of the company. What will happen over the next few days as this fire continues to burn out of control?
GLASSER: I think at the end of the day, the board and the shareholders have to look at every option available to them. Do they rename the company? Maybe, but that’s just a shift and it’s the same company and so it might not be the best idea. Do they sell the company or parts of it? That’s probably a more real conversation. My reason for staying, I want to see what they want to do. I have some amazing filmmakers and TV shows I need to be sure are handled right. I gave my commitment to my employees and to those filmmakers that before I do my next chapter, I will make sure they land safely, even if it comes at the expense of a job opportunity for myself.
DEADLINE: So you won’t resign? You intend to hang in?
GLASSER: For a small period of time, I want to be clear. To make sure everybody is taken care of. I would be doing an injustice to every agent, attorney and partner of mine, because I was that buffer. I can’t just say thanks, I’m taking this job, I hope it works out for you.
DEADLINE: As for other things hanging in the air: what happens to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary sequel that was supposed to release on the one year anniversary of Donald Trump next month?
GLASSER: Two things. He’s still working on that movie. He made a Broadway play and literally just returned to it this week. I’ve heard he has some incredible brand new things he’s adding because so much has changed along the way. But that film is owned by Bob and Harvey. The Weinstein Company only had distribution rights; the film is owned by Bob and Harvey. [Moore last night slammed Harvey Weinstein in a statement on his Facebook account].
DEADLINE: Because of the way Fahrenheit 9/11 got released when Disney rejected it?
GLASSER: Correct. That’s a Bob and Harvey personal decision, left to the two of them to figure out.
DEADLINE: What about Quentin Tarantino’s next film, reportedly about the Manson Family murders?
GLASSER: Again, Quentin is in the midst of it and we haven’t heard from him about it. When that does come up, the conversation will be had internally. It hasn’t come up yet.
DEADLINE: Do the films and TV projects get sold? We hear creatives are making stands and saying they won’t move forward unless the projects go elsewhere.
GLASSER: I think the position the creatives have taken to say they don’t want to be part of the current Weinstein Company, is the right thing for them. People have mixed feelings, but I totally understand and respect that. I understand this is a tainted house and not something people want to be associated with. I understand and respect that and support that. Next step: how do we make sure everyone is okay with their projects? That is what we have to figure out. Is there something that happens where certain projects get sold and certain employees go with them? That’s what the board has to decide and they will do that very quickly. You can see, it’s become a war in the press. What I want is to make sure it’s done very quickly. The board is working around the clock to find the best solution.
DEADLINE: Have there been overtures to sell the projects, like the David O Russell TV series?
GLASSER: Not necessarily the TV stuff, I have been in the middle of those things, but yes on the movies, to do various things, whether it’s filmmakers who want to take them or partners who want to come in. The board is looking at all these things. [Amazon announced hours later it had severed ties with TWC on the David O Russel series]
DEADLINE: Thursday night, Lin-Manuel Miranda and his In The Heights co-writer Quiara Alegria Hudes came out on social media and asked for the musical back. They don’t want The Weinstein Company involved. Will that happen, and what about artists who demonstrate publicly they want their projects back or won’t participate further?
GLASSER: The goal is to hear Lin-Manuel clearly. He is a phenomenal talent and we’ve had a long history with that project. I understand why he would not want The Weinstein Company and its brand attached. I respect that and will help find the best branding spot that makes him comfortable.
DEADLINE: Will TWC stay in the Tribeca Film Center, where the company became an anchor tenant?
GLASSER: I don’t know. That 375 Greenwich piece is owned personally by Harvey and Bob and I can’t speak for them.
DEADLINE: You spent eight years tethered to Harvey Weinstein, who accomplished so much in the indie film sphere. And now he is re-defined by this scandal. Can you characterize your feelings about him? It must be complicated.
GLASSER: It is. People get confused about what I did for Harvey. Some say, you were alongside him, you must have seen everything. I didn’t. There are people in the business who went out clubbing with Harvey. I didn’t go out with Harvey or go on vacations with him. My relationship with him worked well because I had a very defined role. I was the right hand, in the business operation of this company. I did not get involved in his personal life, in his family life. I know his kids, and we were very nice to each other. My job was specific. I took his creative genius, the craziness, and bottled it and sold it in the marketplace. It was a hard job. I was available to him, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I came home from more vacations, holidays broken, baseball games missed. I lived 181 days on the road, between China and Dubai and everyplace he sent me that he didn’t want to go, or was unavailable to go. I went. I was the guy. I busted my ass for this company, for the employees and the agents and managers around town. With it came incredible success. I’m hurt right now. Not like the victims, of course. But I gave my entire life the past ten years to this company. I would like to see anyone say differently. I bled for this company to make sure things got done. Every deal, movie, marketing, every expense. Every time he was angry and frustrated, I defused the bomb and was able to get us across the finish line. So I sit here today thinking, that was what I did for the last ten years. What do I do now? Do I leave the business? Find the inner strength to try again? If so, how would I do it differently?
DEADLINE: How much of that future TWC decision is yours, since the decision rests with the remaining board members representing investors who are watching the value drop with every passing day and each new unsavory revelation?
GLASSER: I’m talking about me personally and whether I stay, leave, go sell real estate, which I enjoy. These are my raw feelings. Now, one of the decisions that will be in front of me will be what the board does, how I land people safely. Those decisions won’t be mine, but they will be in front of me and I will have to pick from the options.
DEADLINE: Any points we should be considering here?
GLASSER: Yes. There are a lot of amazing employees and filmmakers and partners at this company who did not deserve this, at all. We’ve all worked hard here. This is not a company where you walk in at 10 am and clock out at 5 pm. That is not what the Weinstein Company has ever stood for. A lot of people are sitting here, me included, just exhausted for the amount of time they put in here, who now are trying to figure out what they are going to do going forward. I’m not perfect, we all have flaws. But I’ve done my best to protect people within and around this company and my priority is to make sure they land okay.
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