The Weinstein Company board of directors fired the company’s COO and President David Glasser in a surprise move on Friday night.
In a statement, the board — diminished by the sex scandal tied to the Weinstein brothers — said: “The Board of The Weinstein Company has unanimously voted to terminate David Glasser for cause.”
There was no explanation of what constituted “cause.” Glasser could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Weinstein board now comprises Bob Weinstein, Lance Maerov and Tarak Ben Ammar. The move comes amid rising turmoil for the scandal-plagued independent film and TV company.
An expected sale to new buyers, led by Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle, stalled last weekend after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the company over civil rights violations.
The lawsuit came on the heels of the board of directors rejecting a settlement offer by Schneiderman over a long list of sexual misconduct accusations against ousted CEO and co-founder Harvey Weinstein.
Contreras-Sweet and Burkle had been intending to name Glasser the CEO of the new company. But this too was thrown into question after Schneiderman made it known this week that he considered Glasser to be an unacceptable candidate for CEO. This was largely because of Glasser’s previously close relationship to Harvey Weinstein, and the implication that he permitted sexual misconduct to go unchecked.
The board has been at loggerheads with Glasser, and the decision to fire him on Friday did not necessarily mean the end of the road for the executive should a new buyer — and board — emerge in the near future.
The board rejected a settlement offer from Schneiderman that potentially left them open to liability over sexual harassment claims against the company, according to an individual with knowledge of the talks.
Representatives for TWC, who still speak for Bob Weinstein, would not elaborate beyond their provided statement. Representatives for Ben Ammar and Maerov did not immediately return requests for comment.
An insider told TheWrap this week that the independent studio faced “instant bankruptcy” if Contreras-Sweet formally withdraws from the bidding process. Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, had been expected to buy the company for $500 million, leading to a complete overhaul, including a new name and a female-majority board of directors. But that deal is now in jeopardy because of the civil rights lawsuit.
Only hours before Glasser’s dismissal, insiders close to the attorney general and the Contreras-Sweet Group told TheWrap the deal was in a holding pattern. People close to Schneiderman said he would be open to a meeting with Contreras-Sweet but would not budge on an adequate victims fund and “suitable” leadership for the company. Glasser is not suitable, the politician has said numerous times in statements and on social media.
An individual close to Contreras-Sweet said she has been attempting to “resuscitate” since the lawsuit stalled their efforts last Sunday.
Since the Weinstein scandal broke, TWC has frozen its film release schedule and sold off films in an effort to stave off bankruptcy, including selling Warner Bros. domestic distribution rights to “Paddington 2.” While other bidding groups were waiting for a bankruptcy sale, the Contreras-Sweet group had agreed during its negotiations to assume all the companies liabilities — estimated at $225 million — in addition to its assets.
Among the titles that would be inherited by the new owners of TWC include the already completed Benedict Cumberbatch/Michael Shannon drama “The Current War,” the Dev Patel/Armie Hammer thriller “Hotel Mumbai” and a planned film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical “In the Heights.”