For years rumours surrounded the movie mogul behind films such as Shakespeare in Love and Gangs of New York, but now his accusers are going on the record alleging sex assaults
On the day before news officially broke of alleged sexual harassment stretching back decades, Harvey Weinstein, the 65-year-old movie mogul, offered this comment: The story sounds so good I want to buy the movie rights.
In its blend of the glib, the acquisitive and plain braggadocio, it seemed an incredible response to a potentially career-ending expos. Yet those familiar with the man Meryl Streep called God at the 2012 Golden Globes, know that hes defined by an attitude of infallibility. In 2000, having allegedly assaulted a young reporter at a crowded party, Weinstein is said to have screamed: Its good Im the fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town. (Though several photographers were present, no images surfaced.) With more than 300 Oscar nominations to his name, he is one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, a formidable, even unrivalled mix of art, celebrity, politics, money and power.
The New York Times story, the result of a far-reaching investigation by two female reporters, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, includes allegations of sexual harrassment and unwanted physical contact and reveals eight previously undisclosed settlements. A statement from Weinsteins lawyer called the New York Times story saturated with false and defamatory statements and Weinstein is suing the paper.
Among the women who spoke on the record to the New York Times is actress Ashley Judd, who commented: I said no a lot of ways, a lot of times. Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time and its simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly. The implication that Weinsteins misconduct was known in Hollywood and beyond has been widely echoed.
The lack of surprise greeting the story is not, however, entirely attributable to Weinstein himself, but to the culture in which the word of a young woman tends not to be believed over the word of an older, much more powerful man. Within Hollywood, the casting couch remains a place of dubious transaction. In 2010, a website called Pajiba ran a post titled Harveys Girls, those starlets whose instant fame  comes seemingly out of nowhere and without any justification in terms of resum or skill set.