For months now, Harvey Weinstein has been pretending that this whole #MeToo thing was going to blow over, that eventually he’d be back, somehow.
On Friday that fantasy came crashing in with the force of a thousand news cameras. It’s probably a day Harvey Weinstein thought would never come. But it did. He was marched into the New York criminal court like some low-level thug — like some mob operator, like some drug dealer, like some terrorism suspect — charged with three felonies, saddled with an ankle monitoring device and forced to hand over his passport.
And then marched out in handcuffs.
So after months at an Arizona spa where no one knew him, he is now confined to New York and Connecticut, where everyone, everywhere knows him. Where the media will stalk him like the click-bait he is, where restaurants won’t take his reservation, where people will hiss if he goes to the theater, where every corner holds the reminder of the power and glory he once had and that is now gone. It will be much harder to hide.
He entered Manhattan’s first precinct clutching a book about Elia Kazan, a famous director exiled from Hollywood for ratting on Communist colleagues, as a slim ray of hope that he might see a way through it all. Kazan eventually won an honorary Oscar in 1999 and we study his masterpieces like “On the Waterfront” in universities.
But this isn’t the Red Scare. It’s rape. And the victims are not one or two colleagues, but dozens of women. There isn’t a path forward for Weinstein anymore. It is stunning to say and believe this since he reigned as a force of nature for close to four decades.
One year ago, Weinstein was swanning around the Cannes Film Festival as he always did, his posse of minions and executives around him, talking up his movies, making deals, hanging on yachts with billionaire pals and movie stars.
He even stopped by a Wrap event with the director of “Bend It Like Beckham,” Gurinder Chadha. On this day last year he was at his favorite lair, the Hotel du Cap in Cap d’Antibes, for the AmFar AIDS gala, with Georgina Chapman, the fashion designer who is no longer his wife.
He knew then what the rest of us did not, that a storm was brewing in two investigative projects, at the New York Times and the New Yorker. I’m sure he believed then that he’d find a way through any thicket of accusations — because he always had in the past.
When I tried to write about Weinstein keeping on the Disney payroll a man who served essentially as his pimp (Weinstein was then a Miramax chief, owned by Disney), he tried everything from cajoling me with movie stars to paying a personal visit to the New York Times executive editor to legal threats to keep it out of print.
He didn’t kill my story, but it landed like a tree in the forest. Utter silence. So he bought more time. (He never tried buying me off with a book deal, and I still keep on a bulletin board in my office what he told one of his directors about me: “That dame won’t play ball.”)
He won that round like he won most rounds.
At this month’s Cannes Film Festival, Weinstein accuser Asia Argento correctly called the festival his “hunting ground.” (She and others who came forward on the record knew Fabrizio Lombardo, the aforesaid procurer, who was often by Weinstein’s side at parties in Europe.) And she stood at Cannes’ closing ceremony and swore Weinstein would never return.
But Weinstein probably didn’t believe it. For months I’ve been hearing from multiple sources that he was not standing down. You could tell this was true because he would insert himself into public debates when he should have been hiding in shame — apologizing to Meryl, defending himself from Lupita N’yongo.
If he ever planned to flee the country, he didn’t act like it. Now that he’s surrendered his passport it’s too late to try the Roman Polanski route — which can lead to its own set of heartbreaks.
Up until his arrest this week, I suspect he really believed that eventually he’d fight his way back into Hollywood’s good graces. Maybe not to his former status, but that he’d at least have a fighting shot at a comeback.
At this point, though, it’s hard to imagine Harvey Scissorhands cutting a happy ending for his own story.