Monday, December 11, 2017

The film production company Harvey Weinstein co-founded is in discussions for a full or partial sale in the wake of the sexual assault allegations made against the Hollywood mogul. 

The Weinstein Company has announced it is discussing a potential sale to private-equity firm Colony Capital, an investment group owned by Tom Barrack, a ally of President Donald Trump. The equity firm will also provide an “immediate cash infusion”. 

“We will help return the company to its rightful iconic position in the independent film and television industry,” Mr Barrack said in a statement.

The Weinstein company has faced escalating turmoil in the past week and a half after the New York Times and New Yorker published reports alleging years of sexual misconduct by Mr Weinstein, who founded the production company alongside his brother. Numerous women in the entertainment industry have since come forward with allegations of their own about Mr Weinstein.

More than two dozen women have come forward to allege that Mr Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, and several allegations of rape have been made. Mr Weinstein denies those claims. Those allegations have led, in addition to Mr Weinstein’s firing from The Weinstein company, to his expulsion from the Motion Picture Academy. The Producers Guild of America board voted unanimously on Monday to expel him from that organisation, too.

Mr Weinstein has denied any non consensual sex occurred, and says many other allegations against him are also false.

One of Hollywood’s most influential forces since launching in October 2005, Weinstein Co produces and distributes films, scoring hits Shakespeare in LoveThe King’s SpeechSilver Linings Playbook and others. Its TWC Television arm produces the long-running reality series Project Runway. It does not operate a film studio and as such, has few physical assets.

If the deal goes through, it will be familiar territory for Mr  Barrack, the founder and executive chairman of Colony Capital.

His firm and the Qatar Investment Authority bought the Miramax studio, also founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob, in 2010 and sold the movie production and distribution company last year to BeIN Media Group.

Mr Barrack has been a close friend of the President’s for decades. He is known to be a Trump confidant who speaks with the President frequently, and gives him advice from outside the White House.

He has also been rumoured as a potential replacement for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, although the current holder of that office downplayed the idea last week. Mr Kelly said during a press briefing Thursday that he did not plan on leaving his post, and that he had not heard anything of the sort from the President.

In a candid interview this month with The Washington Post, Mr Barrack said he believes Mr Trump is “better” than what he has shown in office and that he tells Mr Trump “all the time” that he doesn’t “like the rhetoric” the president uses.

 

Mr Barrack gave the maximum amount legally possible to Mr Trump’s campaign in 2016, just days before he officially amassed enough delegates to become the eventual Republican nominee. Through two donations on one day in May, Mr Barrack donated $5,400 to the presidential campaign, and donated $1,350 to the Republican National Committee that same day, according to data provided by the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP) a non-partisan organisation that compiles campaign finance data.

Individuals who work at Colony Capital donated a total of $21,200 to Mr Trump’s campaign, according to CRP.

Mr Barrack’s donations were the first political giving Mr Barrack had engaged in 10 years. Then and in the months that followed, Mr Barrack and individuals in his firm gave a total of $81,636 to the Republican National Committee. Most of those donations came from Mr Barrack himself.