Hollywood reacts to Weinstein harassment claims

Harvey Weinstein was fired from the company he started after a New York Times expose alleged decades of crude sexual behaviour.

The Hollywood establishment, slow to react to the initial sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, began speaking out against him more forcefully Monday after the powerful studio boss was fired by his own company.

Among those weighing in were his longtime allies and beneficiaries Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Kevin Smith and Judi Dench. They spoke up with a combination of disgust over his alleged behaviour and remorse or defensiveness over their own business entanglements with him. Even the actors’ labour union SAG-AFTRA joined the chorus in condemning the disgraced movie mogul, calling reports of his alleged conduct “abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Director Kevin Smith, whose movies “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” were produced by Weinstein, noted on Twitter that the producer financed the first 14 years of his career.

“Now I know while I was profiting, others were in terrible pain,” Smith wrote. “It makes me feel ashamed.”

Weinstein, 65, was fired Sunday by the Weinstein Co., the studio he co-founded, three days after a bombshell New York Times expose alleged decades of crude sexual behaviour on his part toward female employees and actresses, including Ashley Judd. The Times said at least eight settlements had been reached with women.

Jennifer Lawrence condemned Weinstein in statement released late Monday, writing that she had never experienced any harassment by him and had not heard allegations of inappropriate behaviour before the Times story was published.

“I was deeply disturbed to hear the news about Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour. I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations. This kind of abuse is inexcusable and absolutely upsetting,” Lawrence’s statement said.

The actress won an Academy Award for 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” which was produced by The Weinstein Co.

“My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions. And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward,” Lawrence said.

Streep, who once called Weinstein “God” while accepting the Golden Globe for “The Iron Lady,” condemned his alleged conduct as “inexcusable” while also saying she did not know about it before.

“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported,” Streep said in a statement.

Stories of his behaviour, she said, were not universally known in Hollywood.

In a HuffPost report, TV anchor Lauren Sivan detailed an alleged 2007 encounter with Weinstein. Sivan, then working at a New York cable channel, said Weinstein cornered her in the hallway of a New York City restaurant closed to the public and masturbated in front of her.

Sivan said she had rejected an attempt by Weinstein to kiss her, and he responded: “Well, can you just stand there and shut up?”

The swift fall of one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures has turned up the pressure on many in the industry to speak out.

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