My in-box and physical mailbox have been inundated with messages from people eager, finally, to reveal the real story behind former Miramax Italy head Fabrizio Lombardo and Harvey Weinstein.
Many of them are heartbreaking. They mostly involve models who say they were recruited, stalked and otherwise pushed into having sexual encounters with important people in the entertainment industry, Weinstein among them. I have already shared the stories of four such people, but there is a lot more to know.
Let us begin with what more I’ve learned about Lombardo.
“I met the overly ambitious street hustler Lombardo as a naïve young model first in Milan and then later in Paris where he stationed himself and operated his procurement talent… out of the apartment of Jean Luc Brunel of Karin Models,” a former model who wants to remain anonymous told me.
Jean Luc Brunel is the founder of a modeling agency who in news reports, including a 1988 exposé on “60 Minutes,” was connected to Jeffrey Epstein, a Florida billionaire convicted of seeking sex from a minor. Brunel subsequently sued Epstein in civil court in 2015, accusing him of being the cause of his losing millions of dollars because of his tarnished reputation.
Back to Lombardo. According to the model, he “learned the game from some of the best playboys and hustlers Europe produced…. He was a maverick at meeting rich, powerful men who liked his thick Italian accent, brash behavior and predominantly his talent to wrangle pretty girls. Unfortunately I was also one of them.”
She said that Lombardo moved to New York, which is where Lombardo befriended Weinstein in the early 1990s. Lombardo himself corroborates this in an interview he gave to the New York Times published on Tuesday, saying he first met Weinstein on St. Bart’s and became friends in New York.
A spokeswoman for Weinstein said they met during the making of “Pulp Fiction,” “when Mr. Lombardo was dating the actress Uma Thurman.” (“Pulp Fiction” was shot in 1993.)
Lombardo declined to respond to multiple emails and phone calls to his cell from TheWrap. His lawyer Bruno della Ragione sent a general statement: “I have been retained by Dr. Fabrizio Lombardo, who has already denied involvement in the ‘Weinstein case’ through the appropriate communication channels, to inform you that all news, third party interviews, statements and hypotheses that refer to Dr. Lombardo are unfounded and, accordingly, do not accurately represent the facts.”
He then said he would prosecute anyone “promulgating false information” about Lombardo.
According to the model, Lombardo moved to Los Angeles from New York a couple of years later seeking to become a film producer. “But after a few months of very bitter and cold reception,” she said, he realized that he would not be successful at that.
By the late ’90s, Lombardo was back in Europe. “At this point, Harvey owed him and at the same time needed him for his endless zest,” she said. “The timing was perfect considering how many new projects were being scheduled to shoot in Europe.” For example, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” shot in Italy, came out in 1999.
The model added, “He could deliver any girl or any actress as the proudly crowned head of Miramax Europe.” (Correction: Actually, Lombardo was head of Miramax Italy.)
In the Times, a former Miramax Italy executive said she received a call from her superiors urging her to use Lombardo in everything she did.
“I thought this was a way to legitimize his involvement in the company,” Elizabeth Dreyer told the Times, adding that his responsibilities amounted to setting up meetings and translating. (This tracks precisely with my reporting from 2004, by the way.)
The model described the activities of Miramax Italy, which she said had two female employees: “Endless castings for ‘upcoming’ movies, parties, dinners and of course all the notorious European movie festivals… Lombardo was in charge, looking important, moving the chess pieces as he pleased all blessed by HW. Everybody knew what was going on and a lot of the power players were rewarded by invitations to all this entertainment courtesy of Miramax Europe [sic]. Harvey would travel to Rome more frequently than ever, staying at the Eden Hotel. The game was on.”
This comment also tracks with what Dreyer told the Times. Years earlier, she recalled trying to book a room for Weinstein at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc outside Cannes and being told “that he was barred because the owner said he ‘brings too many girls.'”
The model observed what has been stated to me by Asia Argento, Zoe Brock, Sacha Voski and a producer who declines to be named, that Miramax in Italy “was basically a procurement operation to please its head Harvey Weinstein and all of his cronies courtesy of his ‘Boy-Friday’ Fabrizio Lombardo.”
For the record, Lombardo denied such allegations to the Times. “That’s absolutely not true. I completely deny it. It’s false,” he said, when asked whether he was “he was employed in part to help satisfy Mr. Weinstein’s voracious appetite,” as the Times put it.
A spokeswoman for Weinstein denied it too. “As the executive in charge of Rome and parts of Europe, Mr. Lombardo made contributions that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for the company,” she said.
Those are words that are easy to throw around. So far, in my years of reporting on this in the past and in recent weeks, I have seen no evidence of this at all. And Weinstein has never claimed this to me before.
In the Times, Lombardo did claim credit for getting Miramax to acquire North American rights to Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s 2000 film “Malèna,” which went on to gross $3.4 million domestically.
More to come.