LOS ANGELES (AP) – Five years after women’s stories about him sparked the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein will stand trial in the city where he was once an Oscar juggernaut.
Already serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York, the 70-year-old former movie mogul faces multiple charges, including several that prosecutors say occurred during a crucial week of the Oscars in Los Angeles. Jury selection for an eight-week trial begins Monday.
Weinstein has been charged with four counts of rape and seven counts of sexual assault involving five women, who will appear in court as Jane Does to tell their stories. He has pleaded not guilty.
Four more women will be allowed to take the stand to give accounts of Weinstein’s sexual assaults that did not lead to charges, but that prosecutors hope will prove to jurors that he had a propensity to commit such acts.
Beginning in the 1990s, Weinstein, through the Miramax company he ran with his brother, was an innovator in running broad and aggressive campaigns to promote Oscar nominees. He had unparalleled success, propelling films like “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Artist” to Best Picture and becoming one of the most thanked men during Oscar acceptance speeches.
Miramax and its successor The Weinstein Co. they were based in New York, where Weinstein lived and did business, but that didn’t diminish his presence in Hollywood.
“He was a New York creature, but he was also a Los Angeles creature,” said Kim Masters, editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter and a longtime observer of the film industry. “He had this huge Golden Globes party that was always way beyond capacity when he was in his prime. He was the king of Hollywood in New York and LA.”
It was during Oscars week in 2013, when Jennifer Lawrence would win an Academy Award for the Weinstein Co.’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” and Quentin Tarantino would win for writing the company’s “Django Unchained,” which took away four of the 11 alleged crimes. place
Like most of the incidents in the allegations, they took place under the guise of business meetings at luxury hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, which Weinstein used as his California headquarters and where he could be seen during the season of awards and throughout the year. He was treated like more than a VIP. At a pretrial hearing, the chauffeur who drove Weinstein around Los Angeles testified that he was even allowed to take up to $1,000 in cash in Weinstein’s name at the front desk of the hotel where he was staying the tycoon
By the time stories about him in The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017 led to his downfall, Weinstein’s power to apparently want movies to win awards had waned and his company had fallen into financial trouble.
“His stature changed, he wasn’t the Oscar king anymore, which was really what made him vulnerable,” Masters said.
The Los Angeles trial is likely to be much less of a spectacle than the New York one, and not just because it’s a sequel and Weinstein is already serving a long sentence.
There is little foot traffic and no grand entrance to the downtown LA courthouse that hosts the trial. Weinstein will not be visible to any media hordes or protesters outside as he was in Manhattan, as he will be ushered into the courtroom directly from prison, having changed out of his prison garb into a suit, through a short corridor where there are no cameras. allowed him to be captured.
Only a dozen reporters, including two cartoonists, will be allowed into the small courtroom each day, compared with several dozen in New York.
Weinstein will also be represented by different lawyers in Los Angeles, Alan Jackson and Mark Werksman. They have expressed concern that the films may play a role in the trial.
The film “She Said,” which fictionalizes the work of two New York Times reporters and their explosive stories about Weinstein, will be released halfway through the trial on Nov. 18.
Weinstein’s lawyers lost a bid to delay the proceedings over the film, and the judge rejected their argument that publicity surrounding him would prejudice a potential jury against him.
“This case is unique,” Werksman said at a pretrial hearing. “Mr. Weinstein’s notoriety and his place in our culture at the center of the firestorm that is the #MeToo movement is real, and we’re trying our best to avoid having a trial when there will be a whirlwind of adverse publicity toward he ” Werksman said at a pretrial hearing.
The Weinstein trial is one of several with #MeToo connections that have begun or are about to begin as the fifth anniversary of the movement’s biggest moment passes, including the rape trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, right down the hall from Weinstein and the civil trial for sexual assault of Kevin Spacey in New York.