close
close

Weinstein’s reputation for sexual assault began early on when he was a concert promoter in Buffalo. As he got older, his influence waned – on the entire film industry dwindled — just as he was looking for younger prey, from a cohort that was “increasingly spending their free time on social networks like Facebook,” Auletta recalls, “instead of going to the movies.”

After the producer, then in his 60s, jumped off his office couch on Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a 22-year-old Miss Italy finalist, in 2015 — “as he grabbed her breasts like he was at an all-you-can buffet.” eat,” as Auletta puts it — she did what many previous women in her position were reluctant to do for fear of Weinstein’s preeminent power: She called the police. A publicist’s attempt to discredit Gutierrez was met with indignant cries that she was ‘slut-shamed’. The fourth wave of feminism had arrived in great turmoil, dragging Weinstein and his ilk into it.

And yet the male foreman of the jury that convicted Weinstein, Auletta, cited the testimonies and behavior of male witnesses, not female victims – “suggesting that ‘believe women’ may be a steep climb ahead.” He suggests instead, ” to listen to women”; but a key woman’s voice is so soul crushingly loud.

In search of Rosebud, for lack of better explanation, Auletta ends up with the Weinstein brothers’ red-haired and apparently temperamental mother, Miriam (after whom her company was named, along with her milder father Max, a diamond cutter who died of a heart attack at 52). A childhood friend told Auletta that Harvey referred to Miriam as “Momma Portnoy,” after the strident character in Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint.”

Bob, who has somehow avoided becoming a “beast” as Harvey is repeatedly described here, allows for the possibility of Miriam’s frustration with the limitations of her life. “She could have been Sheryl Sandberg or one of those CEOs of a company. She had that intelligence,” he told Auletta. Instead, she proudly took Rugelach to her sons’ headquarters and had an epitaph worthy of Dorothy Parker: “I like neither the atmosphere nor the crowd.”

Just as there was a roving “fifth Beatle,” so there was a slew of Miramax executives nicknamed the “third brother” – loyalists who helped make bad behavior possible – and, chillingly, some sort of “encouragement system.” “To Conduct Women” to Weinstein’s Hotel Suites. If you’re not interested in the NC-17 and the often disgusting details of what happened in those suites, nor the breakneck intricacies of non-disclosure agreements, you might prefer one of the disgraced protagonist’s recommendations from the more tasteful era that he adored Elia Kazan’s autobiography, Ein Leben, or a book Weinstein often carried with him while preparing for the trial, Sydney Ladensohn Stern’s The Mankiewicz Brothers. Herman Mankiewicz is credited with writing the screenplay for Citizen Kane; his brother Joe wrote “All About Eve”.

Remembering those great movies, and even some from Miramax’s glory days in the ’90s, feels daunting as the frames, to paraphrase Sunset Boulevard, get smaller and smaller. Riding the ride of Weinstein’s slow rise and fall, even with the able Auletta by your side, can feel even more daunting, like boarding one of those creaky roller coasters in some faded urban playland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.