There may or may not be smoke in crisis PR maestro Michael Sitrick’s legal dispute with former client Harvey Weinstein over outstanding bills, but the whole thing is likely to have water poured on it within days.
Despite a recent fiery court filing by Sitrick & Company alleging that the disgraced and now indicted producer has been squirreling away assets to avoid paying his debts, the two sides are actually close to ending the matter, we hear.
In fact, the parties are continuing in private arbitration over fees owed to the recently New York Times Magazine-profiled Sitrick for its work for Weinstein after the NYT published its expose last October detailing decades of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault by the producer. The disagreement could be settled by as early as Tuesday, a source close to the situation tells Deadline.
Claims have been floating around for several weeks that Weinstein has been late or absent altogether in paying his bills to individuals and companies since his allegedly vile conduct went public last fall, but it seems in this case to be not so black and white. Several hundred thousand dollars have already been doled out to Sitrick for services rendered, and there were questions about what charges were outstanding.
Reps for Weinstein didn’t respond to a request for comment today, but in a move that runs counters to Michael Sitrick’s past stated advice to clients that one should never have no comment, Sitrick & Co. said it had no comment.
Sitrick’s storefront resigned as Weinstein’s representative earlier this year, after serving as his advocate in dozens of stories alleging sexual misconduct by the once-powerful executive. At the time, the crisis PR firm was said to be owed in excess of $350,000 by Weinstein and took the matter to arbitration.
Sitrick also reportedly needed to retain an attorney in connection with a subpoena issued by a New York grand jury investigating allegations of sexual assault by Weinstein – and tellingly he wants compensation for that.
No bad deed clearly goes unpunished.
Not that Weinstein’s legal problems are any where near over.
On July 2, the Manhattan District Attorney hit Weinstein with heavier charges than he had previously been facing in New York, including a more serious degree of sexual assault which could potentially put him in prison for life. The charge of committing a forcible sexual act in the first degree pertains to the allegations of a third woman, following the previous case based on the accounts of two other women. Having already posted $1 million bail and given up his passport, the producer put in a not guilty plea July 13 and is expected back in court in the fall.
As well as being accused by dozens and dozens of women and being investigated by federal prosecutors, the Manhattan D.A. and the NYPD, allegations against Weinstein have been reviewed by the LAPD, which sent a trio of cases to the L.A. County D.A. on February 8. As UK police continue their investigation, the Beverly Hills Police passed two cases of sexual assault that they say occurred in their jurisdiction to Jackie Lacey’s office January 2.