Harvey Weinstein ignited the #MeToo movement

Harvey Weinstein, the fallen Hollywood ‘god’ who ignited #MeToo movement

/ 07:37 PM April 26, 2024

Harvey Weinstein

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, California, on Oct. 4, 2022. For decades, Harvey Weinstein was untouchable until 2017, when he was toppled by rape allegations that lifted the lid on widespread sexual abuse in Hollywood and beyond. ETIENNE LAURENT / POOL / AFP

NEW YORK — For decades, Harvey Weinstein was untouchable, reigning over Hollywood as the mega-producer Meryl Streep famously called “God.”

So when “God” fell in 2017, toppled by rape allegations that lifted the lid on widespread sexual abuse in Hollywood and beyond, the shock waves were felt worldwide.


The #MeToo movement was born, and with it a huge outpouring of accounts of the kind of sexual abuse and routine harassment that women around the world endure—on movie sets, on the street, in the office, on public transport.


But the so-called Weinstein affair, a watershed moment in the fight against sexual violence, took a stunning turn on Thursday, April 25, when New York’s highest court overturned his 2020 conviction for rape and sexual assault, saying he did not receive a fair trial.

The “Pulp Fiction” producer with a knack for making Oscar-winning movies had been three years into his 23-year sentence. He now faces a possible retrial.

Last year, he was sentenced to a further 16 years in prison in Los Angeles for the 2013 rape of an actress there, to be served after his first sentence.

He denies all the allegations against him.

Pariah overnight

Weinstein’s 2020 sentencing capped a sensational downfall for Weinstein, almost three years after The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017 published the first allegations against him, turning him into a pariah overnight.


Nearly 90 women, including Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, have since come forward alleging 40 years of predatory behavior by Weinstein.

Once the darling of film festivals such as Cannes and Sundance, Weinstein was quickly expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the institution that awards the Oscars.

The one-time Democratic Party donor, who hobnobbed with Hillary Clinton, disappeared from public life, surfacing occasionally from reported sex addiction treatment, his name toxic and his reputation in tatters.

81 Oscars

In May 2018 images of him arriving at court in handcuffs to face charges of predatory sexual assault were beamed around the world.

He maintained that all his sexual relationships were consensual but was convicted in 2020 of forcibly performing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and of raping ex-actress Jessica Mann in 2013.

Weinstein, in a wheelchair following heart surgery and considerably lighter than the 300 pounds (136 kilograms) he carried at the height of his success, appeared unrepentant.

“I’m totally confused,” he said, suggesting he was a victim of the #MeToo movement.

“I was the first example and now there are of thousands of men being accused. I’m worried about this country.”

In their decision Thursday, the New York judges cited errors in the way that trial had been conducted, including admitting the testimony of women who were not part of the charges against him.


Born in Queens, New York, on March 19, 1952, the son of a diamond cutter, Weinstein studied at Buffalo University and initially produced rock concerts until he and younger brother Bob went into the movie business.

They co-founded Miramax Films, a small distribution company named after their mother Miriam and father Max, in 1979.

Their hits included 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love,” for which Weinstein shared a best picture Oscar. The company was sold to Disney in 1993 and the brothers left in 2005 to start up The Weinstein Company.

Over the years, Weinstein’s films received more than 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.

The movies he steered to Academy Awards glory include “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Iron Lady”—which won best actress for Streep as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Through it all, the burly executive was famous for his hard-nosed approach to work and Oscars campaigns. He was nicknamed “Harvey Scissorhands” for his aggressive editing of movies.

He once had a personal fortune estimated at $150 million, but it evaporated following his fall from grace.

The Weinstein Company was declared bankrupt in March 2018 under an avalanche of lawsuits related to sexual misconduct claims.

Prosecutors at his initial trial said Weinstein has sold five properties totaling $60 million in the last two years to pay legal fees and support his two ex-wives.

The second, English fashion designer Georgina Chapman, divorced him following the scandal.

Weinstein spent 10 days in hospital following his conviction after complaining of chest pains and had a stent installed.

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TAGS: Harvey Weinstein, MeToo Movement

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