Harvey Weinstein desperately tried to enlist some of the country’s most powerful billionaires in a failed bid to keep his job with the movie studio he co-founded, newly unsealed court filings revealed Tuesday.
Weinstein emailed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Lloyd Blankfein, then the CEO of Goldman Sachs, and others to plead for help as he was engulfed by the #MeToo scandal in early October 2017, the documents show.
“My board is thinking of firing me,” Weinstein wrote in a form letter sent from his email account at The Weinstein Company.
“All I’m asking for is, let me take a leave of absence and get into heavy therapy and counseling whether it be in a facility or someplace else, and allow me to resurrect myself with a second chance.”
Weinstein claimed that “a lot of the allegations are false” and that “what the board is trying to do is not only wrong, but it might be illegal and would destroy the company.”
“If you could write this letter backing me getting the help and time away I need and also stating your opposition to the board firing me, it would help me a lot — I’m desperate for your help,” he added.
Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook both got differently worded pleas, with the disgraced movie mogul telling them that “right now I’m the poster boy for bad behavior” and “I’m in a tough spot,” respectively.
But the emails, sent Oct. 8, 2017, were all in vain, as he was fired the same day and the Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2018.
Its assets — including a 277-film library featuring the hits “Django Unchained,” “The King’s Speech” and “Silver Linings Playbook” — were later sold for $289 million to Lantern Capital, a Dallas-based private equity firm.
Most of the bigwigs who were contacted by Weinstein didn’t return requests for comment, but a spokesman for Bloomberg — who last week abandoned his $500 million-plus bid for the White House — said that “Mike didn’t reply to the email.”
In addition to contacting titans of industry, Weinstein engaged in an email exchange with veteran Democratic strategist Anita Dunn, who reached out and asked how he was doing in the wake of defense lawyers Lisa Bloom and Lanny Davis “jumping ship” from his case.
“I’m sick — I need your advice,” Weinstein wrote.
Dunn, now a top official in former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, told Weinstein that his admission was “a great first step.”
But Weinstein ultimately rejected her recommendations, which included being “as brave as those who have found the strength to stand up to you.”
“You should accept your fate graciously, and not seek to deny or discredit those who your behaviour [sic] has affected,” she added.
Other emails from late July and early August 2017 also show that Weinstein was sent a spreadsheet titled “Miramax Master List 1987-2004” that contained an evolving list of people apparently affiliated with his former production company.
The emails note that the list contains people identified as “red flags” — presumably because they could make misconduct allegations against Weinstein — although the photocopied spreadsheets don’t make clear who they were.
The names on the spreadsheet include Weinstein accusers Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, along with men including Ben Affleck, who was ultimately removed from the list.
The emails were contained in a massive trove of Manhattan Supreme Court filings that were unsealed following his Feb. 24 conviction and ahead of his scheduled sentencing Wednesday.
His lawyers convinced Justice James Burke to prevent prosecutors from introducing them as evidence by arguing they weren’t relevant to the charges and could prejudice jurors against the accused sex fiend, the records show.
The documents also contain a text message that Weinstein sent gossip columnist AJ Benza in which he suggested he was the victim of childhood sexual abuse.
“It is an incident when I was a very young boy,” Weinstein wrote.
“I’m having a hard time I beg u not to say anything.”
On Nov. 5, 2017, Benza emailed the text to Dylan Howard, then the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, who the next day told Benza, “Hold fire on this,” the records show.
Other documents that are part of the unsealed records reveal that if Weinstein had decided to testify in his own defense, prosecutors were prepared to call 11 witnesses to rebut his self-serving claims.
Prosecutors also planned to cross-examine Weinstein over allegations that he used a friend’s social security number without permission to obtain a passport in 1998, and that an employee used a pen to jab him in the stomach when Weinstein, while naked, allegedly grabbed her breasts in London during the late 1990s.
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