Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg was scheduled to discuss “The New New Hollywood” at the WSJD tech conference Monday evening. But under the cloud of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations, Katzenberg ended up focusing much of his talk on a scourge that goes back to the early days of Hollywood: the casting couch.
Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company, the company he co-founded, just days after an Oct. 5 New York Times story first brought to light sexual harassment allegations involving dozens of women. While offering an insider’s perspective of the Hollywood producer at the center of the scandal, Katzenberg noted that sexual harassment and abuse is larger than just Hollywood, referencing recent scandals involving Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Fox TV personality Bill O’Reilly, and even .
“The casting couch has been in Hollywood from the beginning,” Katzenberg said. “The complicity around the acceptance of it and silence about it is the crime. Harvey Weinstein, make no mistake about it, he is a monster.
“The problem is there’s a pack of wolves. He’s not a lone actor in this.”
Katzenberg, who was chairman of Walt Disney Studios when Disney acquired Weinstein’s Miramax Film in 1993, suggested during the discussion, as he did in a recent letter to Weinstein, that there were two Harveys at work in Hollywood. While being clear he wasn’t defending Weinstein, Katzenberg said he never witnessed the abusive behavior that has become legend in recent days, leading him to do some “soul searching” in recent days.
“I’ve had hundreds of meetings with Harvey Weinstein, and literally not a single time was Harvey abusive to someone in my presence,” Katzenberg said. “Somehow this behavior was masked by him.
“The tragic part is these women masked it from us too because they were intimidated,” he said.
But Katzenberg is optimistic that good things will come from this bad situation.
“The silver lining out of this is that we can’t tolerate this,” he said. “I think you will see in these coming weeks, real action, we can’t go on this way.”
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