Weinstein’s reputation for sexual intrusion had begun early, when he was a concert promoter in Buffalo. As he got older, his influence waned – the entire movie industry dwindled – just as he sought out younger prey, from a cohort that “increasingly spent their free time on social media like Facebook,” Auletta recalls, “rather than going to the movies.”
After the producer, then in his 60s, rushed from his office sofa to Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a 22-year-old Miss Italy finalist, in 2015 – “when he reached for her breasts as if he was at an all-you-can-eat buffet,” as Auletta puts it — she did what many previous women who had been in her position, frightened by Weinstein’s towering power, had shied away from doing: she called the police A publicist’s attempt to discredit Gutierrez was met with outraged cries that she was ‘bitch-shamed’ The fourth wave of feminism had arrived with a big splash, dragging Weinstein and his ilk into the surf.
And yet the male jury foreman who convicted Weinstein, Auletta points out, cited the testimony and behavior of male witnesses, not female victims — “suggesting,” Auletta writes, “that ‘believing women’ can do facing a steep climb.” Instead, he suggests “listening to women”; but the voice of a key woman is overwhelming.
In search of Rosebud, Auletta lands, for lack of a better explanation, on the Weinstein brothers’ fiery-haired and seemingly fiery-tempered mother, Miriam (from whom their company was named, along with their sweeter father, Max , a diamond cutter who died of a heart attack at age 52). A childhood friend told Auletta that Harvey called Miriam “Momma Portnoy,” after the shrill character in Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint.”
Bob, who has somehow avoided becoming a “beast” as Harvey is repeatedly described here, admits the possibility of Miriam’s frustration with the limitations of her life. “She could have been Sheryl Sandberg or one of those corporate CEOs. She had that kind of intelligence,” he told Auletta. Instead, she proudly brought rugelach to headquarters of his sons, and had an epitaph worthy of Dorothy Parker: “I don’t like the atmosphere or the crowd.”
As there was a roving “fifth Beatle”, so there was a series of Miramax executives dubbed the “third brother” – loyalists who helped enable bad behavior – and, chillingly, a kind of “system ferry to funnel women” to Weinstein’s hotel suites. If you’re not interested in NC-17 and the often disgusting details of what happened in those sequels, or the jaw-dropping convolutions of nondisclosure agreements, you might prefer one of the recommendations. of the disgraced protagonist of the finer era he adored, Elia Kazan’s autobiography, “A Life,” or a book Weinstein was often seen carrying while preparing for trial: “The Mankiewicz Brothers by Sydney Ladensohn Stern. Herman Mankiewicz is credited with the screenplay of “Citizen Kane”; his brother, Joe, wrote “All About Eve”.
Remembering those great films, and even some of Miramax’s glory days of the 90s, is daunting, as the pictures, to paraphrase “Sunset Boulevard,” continue to dwindle. Accompanying Weinstein’s slow rise and fall, even with the capable Auletta by his side, can feel even more daunting, like riding one of those creaking roller coasters in a faded municipal playground.