Abigail Disney described how her outrage over Harvey Weinstein’s conduct prompted her to launch a bid for The Weinstein Co. and ultimately led to the creation of a new type of entertainment company that blends creativity with a broader social mission.
The documentary filmmaker and granddaughter of Walt Disney Co. co-founder Roy O. Disney offered a blistering critique of Weinstein and of billionaire Ron Burkle, who backed a bid for The Weinstein Co. that was fronted by a Maria Contreras-Sweet.
Referring more broadly to the industry, Disney remarked, “If raping and pillaging is part of your business plan, it’s probably how you treat everything else in your world.”
In a video conference call with a handful of journalists, Disney said she was “filled with rage” by the allegations of rape and sexual assault against the once-powerful Hollywood producer. She said her anger motivated her to back a bid to take over the studio.
“I thought maybe just maybe we could get a group of women together to buy The Weinstein Co. and deploy the resources to benefit the women who were victims of sexual violence,” Disney said. “I fell in love with the beautiful symmetry and social justice of the idea.”
Disney found a partner in Killer Content CEO Adrienne Becker, whom she described as her “long-lost litter mate.” They were assembling a bid when they learned of a competing offer from Conteras-Sweet and Burkle, who subsequently was revealed as the backer and whom Disney described as “not in style or tone much different from Harvey Weinstein.”
The outcome of that frustrated effort to acquire The Weinstein Co. resulted in Level Forward, a new type of entertainment company that is neither a studio nor a film fund nor a talent agency. Level Forward seeks to tell authentic stories from a perspectives that are often are absent from the megaplex.
Level Forward will seek to partner with nonprofit and advocacy groups to accurately tell these new stories, promote conversation and even direct action. Among the executives joining the leadership team is Christina Norman, a former executive with Viacom and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network.