Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s namesake film studio filed for bankruptcy shortly before midnight Monday, a few weeks after a $500 million deal to sell itself fell through amid questions about undisclosed additional debts.
The Chapter 11 filing in Delaware by The Weinstein Co. Holdings LLC states that the company has both assets and liabilities of between $500 million and $1 billion. The New York-based debtor, which has turned to Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Delaware’s Richards, Layton & Finger to represent it in bankruptcy court, owes nearly $20 million to a half-dozen other law firms.
The Weinstein Co. has also entered into a stalking horse agreement with Lantern Capital Partners LP for the Dallas-based private equity firm and turnaround specialist to acquire all of its assets. The Weinstein Co.’s board of directors said in a statement that its proposed bankruptcy sale is “an important step toward justice for any victims who have been silenced by Harvey Weinstein.”
As part of that effort, The Weinstein Co. also announced that it would void all of its non-disclosure agreements as part of its negotiations with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office filed suit in late February against the company and its two founders, brothers Harvey and Robert Weinstein. Sexual harassment and assault allegations levied against Harvey Weinstein late last year sparked the nationwide #MeToo movement, which has since expanded beyond Hollywood into a variety of other industries, including Big Law.
Several large firms appear on a list of The Weinstein Co.’s 30 largest unsecured creditors. Boies Schiller Flexner, a firm whose work on behalf of Harvey Weinstein has come under intense scrutiny for tactics allegedly used against both his alleged victims and journalists looking into Weinstein’s purported misconduct, is listed twice on the listing of largest unsecured creditors.
Boies Schiller is cited as being owed nearly $5.7 million as a “film participant vendor,” a possible reference to its Boies/Schiller Film Group unit, which has done business with The Weinstein Co., as well as nearly $4.5 million for “professional services” rendered to the debtor. A spokesman for Boies Schiller, which was accused in court papers in December of helping cover up widespread sexual misconduct at The Weinstein Co., did not return a request for comment on the matter.
O’Melveny & Myers, a firm known for its entertainment industry prowess and reportedly retained by The Weinstein Co. last November when it first began mulling a potential bankruptcy filing, is owed another $3.2 million. The Weinstein Co. also owes $1.82 million to Los Angeles-based Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, where name partner and high-profile Hollywood litigator Bertram Fields dropped the company as a client in December as a result of unpaid legal bills.
Debevoise & Plimpton, where litigation co-chair John Kiernan led a team of lawyers retained by The Weinstein Co. last fall to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, is owed nearly $1.44 million. Seyfarth Shaw, a firm where leading labor and employment partner Gerald Maatman Jr. was hired by The Weinstein Co. earlier this year to help ward off sexual harassment suits, is owed another $1.11 million.
Barnes & Thornburg is the last unsecured creditor on The Weinstein Co.’s top 30 list. The firm, whose contact is civil litigation and compliance of counsel Leasa Woods Anderson in Washington, D.C., is owed $858,994.84. The Weinstein Co. also notes another $2 million as being owed to a client trust maintained by Lavely & Singer, a well-regarded entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles whose name partner Martin Singer is known for advising prominent individuals in Hollywood.
Cravath, a firm that former Harvey Weinstein counsel David Boies left in 1997 to start Boies Schiller, has previously represented The Weinstein Co. in litigation over box office releases and a dispute with its namesake. Paul Zumbro, head of Cravath’s financial restructuring and reorganization practice, is working with corporate department managing partner George Zobitz and litigation department managing partner Karin DeMasi in advising The Weinstein Co. in bankruptcy court.
Mark Collins, chair of the bankruptcy and corporate restructuring department at Richards Layton in Wilmington, Delaware, is serving as local bankruptcy co-counsel to The Weinstein Co., along with partner Paul Heath and counsel Zachary Shapiro. Neither Richards Layton nor Cravath have yet filed billing statements detailing their work on behalf of the debtor.
Jason Weltman, director of business and legal affairs with The Weinstein Co. in New York, did not return a request for comment about how the company came to choose Cravath and Richards Layton to handle its Chapter 11 case or whether it would be able to fully compensate other unpaid advisers, unsecured creditors and alleged victims.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Pepper Hamilton have entered appearances in The Weinstein Co.’s Chapter 11 case on behalf of Lantern, which is offering $310 million in cash for the bankrupt company’s assets, according to Deadline.com.