Executive producer Harvey Weinstein participates in the War and Peace panel at the A&E 2016 Winter TCA on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Resignations, terminations and even a hiring took place at a rapid pace over the weekend for several lawyers caught up in the controversy emanating from Harvey Weinstein’s alleged actions in Hollywood and elsewhere.
The stage was set on Oct. 5 when The New York Times published a story claiming that Weinstein, an Academy Award-winning film producer, had for decades pursued sexual favors from young women who came in contact with him, hoping to advance their movie careers.
According to The Times, Weinstein reached settlements with women who attempted to hold him accountable for his behavior. In exchange for the payouts, he had the women sign nondisclosure agreements. Weinstein has denied the allegations put forth in The Times’ story and threatened through one of his lawyers, Charles Harder of Beverly Hills-based Harder Mirell & Abrams, threatened to sue the newspaper for $50 million in damages.
Lisa Bloom, a high-profile plaintiffs lawyer and women’s rights advocate who has previously represented sexual harassment victims, defended Weinstein in The Times story and another published late last week by The American Lawyer. Bloom had joined a powerhouse legal team representing Weinstein that includes Harder and Boies Schiller Flexner chairman David Boies, a longtime adviser to the film executive and his namesake company.
But by Saturday, Bloom tweeted and told reporters that she had resigned from her role as Weinstein’s so-called feminist adviser. In the interim, critics, including her mother, attorney Gloria Allred, pounced on Bloom, who also had made a deal with The Weinstein Co. LLC to have a book she wrote serve as the narrative behind a future film. The Times reported that board members at The Weinstein Co. had also criticized Bloom’s role.
One board member, Lance Maerov, in an email obtained by The Times, wrote that Bloom was “fanning the flames and compounding the problem,” and asked that she step away from her representation of Weinstein himself.
The Weinstein Co. has since confirmed that it hired Debevoise & Plimpton litigation co-chair John Kiernan in New York to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations against Weinstein. Three board members—Marc Lasry, Tim Sarnoff and Dirk Ziff—have resigned from the New York-based company, one of the largest mini-major film studios in North America, since The Times’ first story was published last week. (Lasry, who began his career at New York bankruptcy boutique Angel & Frankel before starting his own hedge fund, paid $550 million in 2014 to buy the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks.)
By Sunday night, The Weinstein Co.’s four remaining board members, including Weinstein’s brother, Robert Weinstein, had chosen to terminate him, according to multiple news reports. Lanny Davis, a former White House special counsel and partner at several Am Law 100 firms, had also resigned from Weinstein’s legal team.