EXCLUSIVE: Bob Weinstein, the co-chairman of The Weinstein Company who was named along with his brother Harvey Weinstein in the civil rights lawsuit filed today by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, said that he was not contacted by the AG before the suit was filed. Weinstein said he feared that though well meaning in spirit, the suit might have dashed a potentially favorable outcome for a troubled company and its shot to rebound in the wake of crippling scandal under the new leadership of Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle.
“My personal feeling is, I understand the AG wanting to protect the rights of all the employees on a going forward basis,” Weinstein told Deadline. “What I don’t understand is why things couldn’t be negotiated to meet the needs of everyone. I am the seller. If buyers objects to something the AG wanted to impose, that is out of my control. That said, perhaps somebody did not understand we were taking a company forward and trying to save jobs. Maria was taking as a going concern and it was going to be run by women, with Maria the chairwoman. As a result of them pulling out of the deal [Weinstein based this on a New York Post article he had just read, claiming Contreras-Sweet had pulled out, though other sources said that is not the case], now there might not be any employees to have a monitor for. That would be a great regret for this board. We have worked really hard to see a soft landing for people who deserve it, and all the projects we have on a going forward basis and all the ancillary people that are involved and impacted by this.
“I am an eternal optimist and remain hopeful that all the parties can get together and make a deal. And save these jobs and do something special; have a company run by women. That’s the beautiful irony that is possible in this. They’ve thought these things out carefully, including a victim’s fund to supplement the insurance policies. None of this was done in the dead of night. Everything was transparent and upfront.”
Weinstein separately disputed reports that he denied Contreras-Sweet permission to speak with the attorney general.
“That is a lie, totally untrue,” he said. “In fact I vigorously supported Maria and Ron Burkle talking to the AG and being fully transparent.”
Weinstein was singled out of scorn in the AG’s lawsuit, mainly that he did not do enough to stop his brother’s alleged harassment of women when it was brought to his attention.
Said Weinstein: “I will have my lawyers speak to that. I have not had any discussions with the AG since the beginning of this investigation. I welcome the oppotunity to be heard, whenever he would like to speak to me.”