BREAKING: David Glasser is hitting back. After being vilified in the press by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and subsequently fired for cause last Friday night by The Weinstein Company’s Bob Weinstein and board members Tarak Ben Ammar and Lance Maerov as the trio presses for a completion of the sale of assets of the beleaguered company, Glasser has retained the legal firm Sauer & Wagner. The lawyers will file suit against TWC, Bob Weinstein and Ammar and Maerov alleging wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract and defamation. The suit seeks in excess of $85 million in damages.
The lawsuit will be filed as early as tomorrow, but the announcement was made just now, not coincidentally before a scheduled 2:30 PM meeting in New York today between Schneiderman, Yucaipa’s Ron Burkle and Maria Contreras-Sweet to see if there is some common ground to be found to salvage their attempt to buy the assets of The Weinstein Company for around $500 million. Issues on the table will likely include raising a commitment to a victims fund that will be tapped by class action lawsuits, as well as the question of whether Glasser should be named CEO of the new company. If no compromise is reached and the bid is withdrawn, the inevitable next step will be a plunge into bankruptcy that will imperil the employment of about 150 staffers, and put a laundry list of completed and percolating project into receivership.
The transaction was halted in its tracks by the AG’s civil rights lawsuit that targeted TWC and co-founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein, filed because Schneiderman felt his concerns were falling on deaf ears. In comments that followed the lawsuit filing, Schneiderman singled out Glasser for overseeing a company where Harvey Weinstein was able to engage in a pervasive pattern of illegal activity that was hushed up by intimidation, and payments to silence victims. The AG felt that the new deal would have rewarded Glasser and others.
Glasser has maintained he was not complicit in that payout scheme or that he had knowledge of any sexual assaults. Now, his attorneys are positioned to tell his side of the story. Said Sauer & Wagner founding partner Eve Wagner in a statement:
“My client’s sudden termination was nothing more than a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from the very people who were empowered to halt Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behavior– Chairman Bob Weinstein and the two other members of the TWC Board of Directors [Ben Ammar and Maerov]. Throughout his tenure at TWC, Mr. Glasser worked tirelessly to protect the employees of the company from Harvey Weinstein’s frequent outbursts. Numerous documents and emails clearly show that Mr. Glasser acted appropriately and responsibly whenever allegations of misconduct were brought to his attention.
“The Board has yet to provide a single fact or detail explaining its decision to terminate Mr. Glasser on February 16,” Wagner said. “The simple truth is that the Board had no grounds to justify his firing. Through this lawsuit, we intend to bring to light facts and evidence to demonstrate that the Board acted precipitously and with malice. We are confident that a complete airing of all of the evidence will show that our client was scapegoated by the TWC Board of Directors.”
Before Glasser was ousted with a terse one line statement issued late Friday night, Deadline had reported on a memo that was sent on October 11 by TWC’s Irwin Reiter to the board, outlining attempts that he, Glasser and other execs claimed they made to get the board to act on Weinstein’s excesses. At the time, Ammar and Maerov responded angrily to the missive, which they said conveniently came after the fact, following revelations about Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults and harassment in The New York Times and The New Yorker. They felt the memo was deeply misleading, and said that the moment they were in fact the ones who ousted Weinstein the moment they learned of his extensive misbehavior and alleged sexual assaults detailed in those articles.
TWC has been in disarray ever since as those board members have presided over an auction that elicited over 20 bids. An exclusive negotiation began in January with Contreras-Sweet led bid, about the only one that didn’t call for TWC to first move through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
If Glasser’s lawsuit elicits a release of earlier emails, it could lift the lid on who really knew what and when, and shine a light on how Weinstein’s misbehavior, silent payouts and non disclosure agreements could have gone on for so long.
It might also shed light on whether Glasser should be permitted to resurface as a leader of the new company, if in fact the AG unblocks the deal and it closes before the whole thing implodes in bankruptcy.