Magazine article Screen International

'Working with Weinstein' Doc: The Key Revelations

Magazine article Screen International

'Working with Weinstein' Doc: The Key Revelations

Article excerpt

C4 film narrated by Zelda Perkins told the story of Weinstein’s 30-year relationship with the British film industry.

A new documentary about Harvey Weinstein, which aired on Channel 4 last night (Feb 20), investigated how the disgraced mogul worked with the British film industry over a 30-year period.

The film was narrated by Zelda Perkins, who was Weinstein’s UK-based assistant at Miramax until 1998. She left the company after a new assistant told her that Weinstein had tried to rape her at the Venice Film Festival. Perkins was made to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she broke in an interview with the Financial Times last year.

Directed by Alice Perman and produced by Tigerlily Productions, the film contained a number of revelations and featured interviews with producers Stephen Woolley and David Parfitt as well as former employees of Miramax and The Weinstein Company.

Weinstein has been accused of rape, sexual assault and harassment, but has denied any allegations of non-consensual relationships.

Odd behaviour

Woolley, who first worked with the US mogul on 1989 Palace Pictures production Scandal, said of Weinstein at that time: “[Harvey was] not only charming, but very knowledgeable about film.”

He added about the Scandal shoot: ”When everybody was taking their clothes off [for scenes], Harvey seemed to be around. It was kind of comical in a way. I don’t think anyone thought it was freaky or odd, but on reflection it does form a pattern.”

Later, when Weinstein was at the peak of his powers following Shakespeare In Love’s multi-Oscar win in 1999, and had firmly established himself as a UK power player, Woolley admitted that the executive’s abusive behaviour was tolerated by many in the UK industry: “We allowed him to be our bully. He was shouting at staff, waking them up at two in the morning. That I think is a failing that I have as a human being and other producers at the time, of allowing him to quietly bully his own people.”

Madden allegations

Laura Madden, a former executive at Miramax, who started as a runner on Into The West, described her first encounter with Weinstein, when during a meeting in his hotel room he asked her for a massage. ”I was shocked by this request,” said Madden. “He said: ‘This is a normal, all my staff do this’ and I felt I was the one who was sexualising this.”

Madden, who ended up working for the company for eight years, described the subsequent upsetting encounter in detail, at the end of which she was left in tears as Weinstein finally heeded her request and left the room.

According to former Miramax producer Susan Slonaker, she confronted Weinstein about his harassment of Madden. “I thought it was misuse of power, but I thought it was an aberration of the Harvey I knew,” Slonaker admitted.

Working for Miramax UK

Zelda Perkins recounted how the Miramax UK office was an exciting place to work, but that Weinstein’s arrival always cast a “black cloud”. “When he called the whole office would shut down and go into panic,” she said.

Madden added: “It was a bullying environment: there was a fear of the wrath of Harvey. Every time I was summoned to The Savoy, where he would work from, there were always requests for massage. He never stopped trying it on. It was consistent and constant. But we also always tried to go in twos or threes so there would never be one person left alone there, and we all wore our coats, massive puffer coats, just tried to make ourselves as unattractive as possible. …

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