BREAKING: The board of directors of the beleaguered The Weinstein Company has just sent a statement announcing they’ve fired COO David Glasser for cause.
The board declined to elaborate on this simple statement: “The Board of The Weinstein Company has unanimously voted to terminate David Glasser for cause.”
The development is the latest turn in a turbulent week that began as bidders for the assets of the company — Maria Contreras-Sweet was to lead a majority female board with financing by Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa and Lantern Capital — were poised to close a $500 million deal. That deal stalled when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil lawsuit that named Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein and cited “a pervasive pattern of illegal activity.” In a subsequent press conference, the AG singled out Glasser for scorn, along with the Weinsteins and the board of directors, for not acting stridently on evidence that Harvey Weinstein was engaging in abusive and predatory behavior for years and had turned TWC into a hostile work environment. The bidders intended to name Glasser CEO of the new concern. Along with oversight on the construct of the new company, the AG sought a commitment stronger than the $10 million or so that the new company planned to allocate to compensate victims lining up to sue. Those funds were to be paired with insurance policies believed to be worth $60 million or so for the lawsuits.
Glasser has been the longtime COO who in July, 2015 resigned after seven years, to field other offers and because the board had severely tightened the TWC purse strings after an attempt to sell its TV division to ITV for between $300M-$950M, with the buyer cooling after Harvey Weinstein made headlines for being investigated for allegedly assaulting an actress in New York. Glasser was coaxed back that September by the brothers Weinstein, who pledged they were reupping and that the board was loosening those purse strings. Another attempt to sell the TV division by Moelis & Co was halted by reports about Harvey Weinstein’s misbehavior and alleged sexual assaults bared in The New York Times and The New Yorker. Glasser has continued to steer the company during a turbulent fall, including the facilitating of bids for its assets.
The company has been frozen in place since those articles and the resulting quick firing of Harvey Weinstein by the board (Weinstein has steadfastly denied charges of non-consensual sex, but the details of the 38-page lawsuit reveal a work environment that seemed absolutely toxic for women working there). The dire straits were evidenced by the company’s cornerstone filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, putting his latest film out to auction, with Sony Pictures acquiring rights to make an ensemble film about a summer in Los Angeles in 1969, with the Manson murders figuring in the plot. Tarantino secured Leonardo DiCaprio to star in that film in a reteam from Django Unchained, with Margot Robbie and Tom Cruise among the actors said to be circling other key roles. Harvey Weinstein always called Miramax/TWC “the house that Quentin built,” with the writer/director starting his career there with Reservoir Dogs, and making all his films, including Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, with the Weinsteins. Tarantino and his WME reps had little choice but to move the film elsewhere, effectively ending that relationship. It has not been the same house for a long time, as the board of directors looked for an exit plan and saw it evaporate with the exit of ITV. It is believed that the backers of the company will lose much if not all their investment when all is said and done.
All this comes as a cash infusion with the sale of rights to Paddington 2 to Warner Bros is running out with serious questions of whether the company can avoid a plunge into Chapter 11 bankruptcy that would have been avoided had the transaction been executed. It is unclear whether this means Glasser won’t be part of the new company planned by Contreras-Sweet, Burkle and Lantern Capital, as an exit by the remaining members of the board (the sale was being orchestrated by independent board members Tarak Ben Ammar and Lance Maerov) and Bob Weinstein, were part of the conditions of the asset sale.
If the bid is withdrawn from Contreras-Sweet, Burkle and Lantern Capital, bankruptcy is inevitable and the employment of upwards of 150 staffers is in jeopardy, as well as the welfare of numerous projects in development and in the can which would be placed in receivership. Other runner-up bids for the company were conditioned for a plunge into bankruptcy. The continued employment of the staff and the curation of these assets were part of the bid that was about to close when the AG instituted the lawsuit just before the deal closed after Schneiderman felt that his concerns had fallen on deaf ears.
A New York Times report noted that while the AG had the welfare of Weinstein’s victims at heart, that those victims might not be protected at all if they are forced to line up behind other creditors in a bankruptcy filing as unsecured creditors. A bankruptcy filing would certainly elicit more specific evidence on why the patterns of abuse by Weinstein fell on deaf ears, but that could be small comfort to victims if they have a harder road to collect judgements for the abuse. Gloria Allred, who is representing a group of those victims, had endorsed the bid by Contreras-Sweet/Burkle/Lantern Capital.
Attempts to reach Glasser were unavailing at this late hour.