Frontline's 'Weinstein' docu: 'He's gearing up for the fight'

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in January 2017. (Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The new Frontline documentary Weinstein, premiering Friday night on PBS, is a pre-Oscars reminder of what a foul human being Harvey Weinstein is. The film, a co-production with the BBC, is airing the same week that the Weinstein Company announced the assets from the bankrupt company will be sold. The hourlong special is a summary of just about everything known about the movie producer’s predatory behavior, while moving the story ahead just a little bit.

The estimate of the number of women who’ve come forward to describe dreadful-to-criminal behavior by Weinstein now hovers around the 100 mark, says Frontline, and the decades-long pattern of abuse probably affected more than that. Frontline puts some of these women, many of whom had previously not spoken on television, in front of the camera. The producers also interviewed a few men who worked for Weinstein who enthusiastically acknowledge their ex-boss’s mendacity (“he was a dictator,” says former Weinstein Company exec Tom Prince) while claiming ignorance of the extent of his sins. To the small credit of one former employee of Miramax (Harvey’s company before the Weinstein Company), executive Paul Webster admits, “I knew I was making a deal with the devil … I knew he was a dangerous character … I think we were all enablers.” He acknowledges he chose not to find out about the grisly details.

Indeed, opting for self-selected ignorance seems to be the standard practice for an awful lot of people in Hollywood — including, we can assume, some famous performers who benefited from Weinstein’s power and creativity as a producer. It wasn’t until October 2017, when stories broke in the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing Weinstein’s piggishness, that the producer’s cycle of abuse was broken. Since then, Weinstein has mostly vanished from view, off to some sort of rehab while his business interests flounder. Late in Weinstein, the creepy gossip columnist A.J. Benza — who used to spread muddy dirt with a trowel at the New York Daily News and Newsday — says we have not seen the last of Weinstein. “I think he’s gearing up for the fight,” asserts Benza. Weinstein, through his legal team, contradicts and denied nearly every one of the claims against him in this edition of Frontline. In other words, Weinstein hasn’t learned a thing about accepting blame or acknowledging sins.

Frontline: Weinstein airs Friday at 9 p.m. on PBS. Check local listings.

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