The Harvey Weinstein scandal has exposed the producer, who is the second most thanked individual at the Oscars (after Steven Spielberg and four ranks above God), as a more than just an alleged sexual abuser, but also as someone apparently deeply manipulative.
The New Yorker journalist Ronan Farrow, who has been investigating the Weinstein scandal for the last year, explained in a PBS interview, 'There is a vast machine set up to silence these women. We are talking about legal settlements, where women were paid to sign very restrictive non-disclosure agreements. We are talking about a public relations team that plants negative items about women.'
One of the recent allegations has not been about Weinstein himself, but one of of his protegés, Matt Damon. In so much as they apparently helped to squash a 2004 story which aimed to expose the super-producer.
Sharon Waxman said that when she worked for The New York Times, she reported on a story revealing Fabrizio Lombardo, who ran Miramax Italy in 2003 and 2004, procured girls for Weinstein.
Fabrizio Lombardo brought me to Weinstein's room when I was 21 in '97. He told me it was a Miramax party. Only Harvey was there.- Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) October 11, 2017
Actress Asia Argento has accused Weinstein of orally raping her in The New Yorker (something Weinstein denies) and Tweeted that it was Lombardo who brought her to Weinstein's room under a false pretext in '97.
In 2004, Waxman's story never ran, she alleged because of 'intense pressure from Weinstein'.
One of the ways the pressure was allegedly enforced was, 'having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.'
The suggestion has been that Matt Damon was complicit in the alleged Weinstein hush-up.
Damon's The Martian co-star Jessica Chastain - who has been publicly critical of Weinstein and tweeted her support for the women speaking against him - has put in a positive word for Matt.
I was warned from the beginning. The stories were everywhere. To deny that is to create an enviornment for it to happen again.- Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) October 9, 2017
On Monday, she posted a story that reported on Matt Damon's alleged involvement in the cover-up with the caption, 'This is heart shattering', showing her upset over her friend's alleged involvement.
However, since then Damon has been interviewed by Deadline recalling his version of events.
He states that he knew nothing of the behaviour Weinstein has been accused of and, more than that, called Waxman on request from Weinstein under the pretext that he was just giving his personal opinion on Lombardo as a reputable businessman.
He told Deadline:
My recollection was that it was about a one minute phone call. Harvey had called me and said, they're writing a story about Fabrizio, who I knew from The Talented Mr. Ripley. He has organised our premiere in Italy and so I knew him in a professional capacity and I'd had dinner at his house. Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it's really negative. Can you just call and tell her what your experience with Fabrizio was. So I did, and that's what I said to her.
And, this is exactly what Waxman stated in her article, which read, 'having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo.'
Once this clarification came to light, Chastain took to Twitter. She stated, 'I believe that Matt was manipulated. I've spent time with him on The Martian and he's a really good guy.'
Chastain explained in further Tweets that she will always stand for sexual assault survivors, but wants to make clear that she believes Damon was an unwitting passenger on Weinstein's journey.
To be clear, Weinstein has apologised for some of his behaviour, but has refuted many of the claims against him. In response to the accusations published in The New Yorker, a spokesperson for Weinstein issued a statement that he 'unequivocally denied' any allegations of nonconsensual sex, and added that 'there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.' View the full statement here.
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