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Why Hollywood’s lips were shut

TINSELTOWN is in turmoil.

After revelations accusing one of Hollywood’s most powerful men of sexual abuse towards actresses and former colleagues that span decades, Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein is in damage control.

As the chips start to fall for the once legendary mega-producer, the most powerful of the glitterati are banding together in what is fast becoming one of the biggest scandals in recent Hollywood history.

Actress Ashley Judd says she stands by her story after Weinstein claimed he “never laid a hand on her” and that she is “going through a tough time” after she made sexual allegations against him.

Actress Rose McGowan has also been vocal after an incident in 1997 led to a settlement of an undisclosed sum. McGowan is one of eight women whom The New York Times reports received such sums.

On Friday, the company board of directors will meet to discuss Weinstein’s future. The mogul is taking a leave of absence and acknowledged he has behaved poorly.

Weinstein released a statement saying “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain.” He added: “I want a second chance in the community but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it.”

However his lawyer Charles J. Harder said the story is “saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein.”

“We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish,” he said. The New York Times says it stands by its reporting.

But it’s not just famous faces who are beginning to share their stories. Writer-at-large for New York Magazin e’s The Cut, Rebecca Traister alleged Weinstein called her a “c***” and pushed her boyfriend — also a reporter — down a set of steps, subsequently dragging him onto Sixth Avenue, in New York, in a headlock.

In her piece, Why the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations didn’t come out until now, Traister details the decades in which she has had conversations surrounding Weinstein’s years of alleged abuse.

For Traister, those conversations began when she began working as an editorial assistant at a magazine Weiner financed, Talk.

Employees “told tales of hotel rooms, nudity, suggestion and coercion, and then of whispered pay-offs, former assistants who seemingly dropped off the face of the earth”, Traister wrote.

Her first altercation came in 2000 when working for the New York Observer on a “serious” story regarding the fact Miramax Films, of which he is co-founder, was sitting on a “violent reimagining of Othello” — O — for potentially political reasons.

Traister alleged he called her a “c***” and pushed her boyfriend down steps, dragging him along the street in a headlock.

“Such was the power of Harvey Weinstein in 2000 that despite the dozens of camera flashes that went off on that sidewalk that night, capturing the sight of an enormously famous film executive trying to pound in the head of a young newspaper reporter, I have never once seen a photo,” Traister wrote.

“Back then, Harvey could spin — or suppress — anything”.

Little did Traister know, though, that despite being labelled an “aggressive reporter barging into a party”, people began to come to her with stories.

Reporters, who Traister says, were working for “years” to find a way to expose Weinstein — and they thought she could help.

It took seventeen years, but Traister finally wrote her story.

“I never really thought of trying to write the story myself. Back then I didn’t write about feminism; there wasn’t a lot of journalism about feminism,” she wrote.

However Traister said the reasons allegations had been kept hushed was that it was almost too difficult to nail Weinstein; people still cared a lot about movies and the casting couch still held a romanticised notion. Despite the fact that Weinstein’s notorious ways were earning him a reputation, people felt “they would never be believed”.

Then there were the reported nondisclosure agreements, the pay-offs, or “gobs of money”, and the endless lawyers making it harder to press a case. Traister described it as a “sheer force and immovable power”.

“But another reason that I never considered trying to report the story myself… was because it felt impossible,” she wrote.

“I remembered what it was like to have the full force of Harvey Weinstein — back then a mountainous man — screaming vulgarities at me, his spit hitting my face. That kind of force, that kind of power? I could not have won against that.”

Producers inside Tinseltown are reportedly shocked it’s taken so long for the scandal to break. For them, Harvey Weinstein’s sexually charged behaviour was “one of the most open secrets in Hollywood”.

— Share your story — youngma@news.com.au

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