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Bob Weinstein Harassment Claim: The Scandal Spreads (Analysis)

It was another rough day at the Weinstein Co. As Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault scandal continues to worsen as more and more victims come forward, his brother Bob Weinstein has become ensared with troubles of his own. With his older brother being fired from the indie company they co-founded, Bob Weinstein had hoped to retain a leadership role if the Weinstein Co. is sold to Colony Capital.

Those ambitions have been complicated after Amanda Segel, an executive producer of  the “The Mist,” revealed in an interview with Variety that Weinstein repeatedly made unwanted romantic overtures to her while she worked on the Spike TV series. The Weinstein Co. produced the show.

The story comes days after Bob Weinstein said in a Hollywood Reporter Q&A that he was surprised and unaware of the extent of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged harassment. It also raises questions about Bob Weinstein’s own future with the company given that he too now has to contend with his own harassment allegation. Under one scenario being raised in the press, he would continue to run Dimension, the studio’s genre label, after Colony Capital buys the company. At the very least, the latest accusation signals that a company name that that was already irredeemably tarnished by its association with the brothers Weinstein is moving into the smoldering ruin phase of its rapid devolution.

A spokesman for the Weinstein Company board did not respond to questions about a possible investigation into Bob Weinstein’s behavior. Of course, the board is getting ever more intimate. Five members resigned in the wake of the scandal and Harvey Weinstein stepped down from the board on Oct. 17 after being fired on Oct. 8. That leaves the board with a total of three members, one of whom is Bob Weinstein himself.

So far, Bob Weinstein is hitting back. He’s hired Bert Fields, a prominent attorney who has represented a number of big Hollywood names including Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and John Travolta. In a statement, Fields said that Segel’s claims were “riddled with false and misleading assertions” and hinted that emails would exonerate his client. He also seemed eager to debate the definition of harassment. Segel’s account to Variety did not describe any unwanted touching, he noted.

“There is no way in the world that Bob Weinstein is guilty of sexual harassment, and even if you believed what this person asserts there is no way it would amount to that,” Fields said.

Of course, taking a scorched Earth approach to battling Segel’s claims will only further alienate the company from actors and directors who are already recoiling from the idea of working at the studio. As it stands, there’s an apocalyptic atmosphere at the company’s offices. Employees continue to come into work, but a pall has been cast over the entire operation, according to insiders. They say the Weinstein Co. staffers aren’t sure how much longer they will have jobs, and are treating each check like hazard pay. They also wonder what Colony Capital wants to do with the studio if it buys it at what will likely be a fire sale price. Colony Capital was a one-time owner of  the Weinsteins’ former company Miramax, which it acquired from the Walt Disney Co.

Despite Bob Weinstein’s public insistence that it’s business as usual at the company and that many employees remain committed to staying in the fold, resumes are being circulated all over town and chits are being called in as the nearly 200 staffers look for a safe landing spot. Smelling blood in the water, rival distributors have started reaching out to producers of finished, yet-to-be released films that are housed at the Weinstein Co. to see about extricating them from the morass.

“The Current War,” a historical biopic with Benedict Cumberbatch, and “The Upside,” a dramedy with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, are among the projects that other studios think could have some commercial upside if the Weinstein Co.  should decide to sell them.

Even before Segel accused Bob Weinstein of harassment, agents were advising their clients to steer clear of TWC.  It’s viewed as toxic, and there is a widespread belief that any reps for any films that get released under the studio’s banner (even in a rechristened form) will face a barrage of questions from reporters about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, as well as likely inquiries about his younger brother. That could lead to some uncomfortable moments as actors go on the talk show circuit to pitch Weinstein-backed projects.

With Harvey Weinstein gearing up for a legal challenge, an ugly situation stands to get even more hideous. More dirt will be flung, as the two brothers face off in some kind of corporate Cain and Abel struggle over their greatly diminished empire. No one emerges unscathed.

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