Bob Weinstein Takes Reins as Embattled Brother Harvey Takes ‘Indefinite Leave’
Bob Weinstein, co-founder and co-chairman of Weinstein Co. and Miramax, has long been overshadowed by his older brother Harvey, even when his Dimension Films label was producing most of the profits through commercial hits such as the “Scream,” “Scary Movie” and “Spy Kids” franchises.
Now, in a sudden turn of events, Bob Weinstein is attempting to wrest control of the Weinstein Co. as his high-profile sibling fights for his professional life amid allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior stretching back decades. A scathing New York Times story published Thursday reported that eight settlements have been paid to alleged victims, including actress Rose McGowan, over the past two decades.
On Friday evening, the TWC board confirmed that Harvey Weinstein has been placed on “indefinite leave” and that a law firm has been hired to investigate the allegations. Bob Weinstein and chief operating officer David Glasser will jointly run the company in the interim. It remains unclear at this juncture if Harvey Weinstein will ever return to the company that he and his brother launched in 2005.
Sources familiar with the situation say Bob Weinstein and TWC chief operating officer David Glasser are united in pushing the company’s board to remove Harvey Weinstein from his co-chairman role. By multiple accounts, the brothers — who have been in business together since forming Miramax in 1979 — have become estranged in recent years. Glasser has been serving as a liaison between Harvey and Bob. However, Glasser has many detractors and sources close to the company say there is concern that he is mounting a power grab, taking advantage of the crisis moment.
Bob Weinstein has always kept a lower profile than his more gregarious and controversial brother for most of their nearly 40-year business partnership.
Weinstein Co. insiders are said to be frazzled by the uncertainty at the company. The sexual harassment scandal comes on top of a prolonged film slump and the persistent industry speculation that the company is in financial straits and needs to sell all or part of its television division to help longtime investors reap returns at along last.
Bob Weinstein is respected for his sharp instincts on marketing and distribution of films. He’s generally well liked among the staffers, with one former executive describing him as “a quiet warrior” in business, though he is known to have a temper as hot as his brother’s. “But there’s only one Harvey,” said another alumnus.
While for many years Bob Weinstein brought in the lion’s share of their company’s profits with his releases, which also included “Sin City” and the “Halloween” series, he has been curiously inactive on the movie side in recent times. Dimension has so far released no movies in 2017 and has only two horror films planned for the rest of the year: “Amityville: The Awakening” (Oct. 28) and “Polaroid” (Nov. 22).
Harvey Weinstein is seen as the creative engine of the company, whether working with filmmakers, hunting acquisitions or re-editing movies. He’s also been the driving force behind the company’s aggressive push in to TV. Weinstein has leveraged his reputation and his creative connections to package projects such as the Paramount Network drama series “Yellowstone,” about ranchers on the edge of the Wyoming national park battling land developers and conservationists. Kevin Costner landed an eye-popping $ 500,000 an episode for the show. The pilot was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, the filmmaker behind TWC’s summer release “Wind River.”
“That doesn’t happen unless you have Harvey in there banging on the table at the network,” an executive close to the project said.
On the TV side, however, Bob Weinstein oversaw MTV’s series adaptation of the “Scream” horror pic franchise that was a moneymaker for the Dimension Films banner he ran in the 1990s and early 2000s. “Scream” will wrap with an abbreviated third season early next year.
TV has become increasingly vital to TWC as the company has endured a string of underwhelming film releases during the past two years. But insiders emphasize that there is a void in leadership below the Harvey level both on the movie and TV sides of the business. Earlier this year, Dylan Sellers returned to the company to head the movie division and Patrick Reardon oversees unscripted TV for TWC as executive VP; Megan Spanjian runs scripted as executive VP. Reardon has stature in the unscripted TV world, but neither executive is seen as a candidate to take on the all-important role of selling and packaging new TV projects.
Weinstein Co. has been shopping its TV division on and off for months. It has sought a sky-high valuation of $ 700 million-$ 900 million that turned off numerous prospective buyers even amid the recent M&A frenzy among independent TV producers of size. The absence of a clear leader for the TV operation will further hinder the sale process. ITV kicked the tires on Weinstein Co.’s TV arm but ultimately decided against a deal. Weinstein Co.’s biggest TV property is Lifetime’s long-running reality series “Project Runway” and its spinoffs.
Industry observers say TWC under Bob Weinstein could have better luck recruiting a TV industry heavyweight to take charge of the operation. Harvey Weinstein’s reputation as a tough micro-manager has been an impediment to bringing in an outsider, industry sources said.
Harvey Weinstein’s reputation for exerting his will over the final cut of projects flared last year when he demanded the chance to assemble his own cut of several episodes of military drama “Six,” which TWC and A+E Studios produce for cabler History. Weinstein’s insistence on changes and additions to several episodes became such a struggle that a financial deal was made with TWC to ensure that Weinstein would only be a consultant on Season 2.
(Pictured: Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein)