A leading Hollywood studio has launched an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment concerning one of its founders, the Academy Award-winning producer Harvey Weinstein.
The Weinstein Company’s board said it was taking claims contained in a piece published by the New York Times “extremely seriously” and it sought to “learn the full truth”.
Harvey Weinstein, who is co-chairman of the studio, issued an apology on Thursday and announced he was taking leave of absence following the emergence of allegations made by women with whom he had worked.
Those involved include Kiss The Girls star Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, who appeared in films including Scream, according to the NYT.
The producer said he appreciated the way he had behaved with colleagues in the past “has caused a lot of pain” and that he realised he “needed to be a better person”.
“I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then,” the 65-year-old said.
“I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.”
The money and the power behind some of the biggest Hollywood films of the past 25 years, Weinstein and brother Bob founded Miramax in 1979, building it into a major Hollywood player before selling it to Disney in 1993.
They continued to work for the firm until 2005 when they quit to set up the Weinstein Company, which spawned hits including The King’s Speech, Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook.
The firm’s board said on Friday that a majority of its members “strongly endorsed” co-founder Harvey Weinstein’s decision to step aside indefinitely while he receives “professional help for the problems he has acknowledged”.
What the future holds for Weinstein “depends on Harvey’s therapeutic progress, the outcome of the Board’s investigation and Harvey’s own personal decisions,” the board said in a statement.
“We take extremely seriously the accusation published in today’s New York Times about our Company’s co-chairman Harvey Weinstein,” the statement said.
“It is essential to our company’s culture that all women who work for it or have any dealings with it or any of our executives are treated with respect and have no experience of harassment or discrimination.
“We believe it is important to learn the full truth regarding the article’s very serious accusations, in the interests of the company, its shareholders and its employees.
“To that end, we have retained an independent and leading lawyer and firm… to undertake a thorough and independent investigation.”