The disgraced Hollywood producer left Miramax in September 2005 to set up The Weinstein Company
A number of former Miramax employees have described an alleged atmosphere of “manipulation and fear” at the company during Harvey Weinstein‘s tenure, with one former executive remarking that “the sex allegations [against Weinstein] are the rancid tip of the iceberg at the company”.
The Hollywood producer – who has been accused in recent weeks of rape, sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct by numerous women (allegations he “unequivocally denies”) – founded Miramax with his brother Bob in 1979, before leaving in 2005 to start The Weinstein Company.
Three former Miramax employees have now come forward to offer their testimonies about Weinstein’s alleged behaviour while at the company.
Speaking to The Guardian, Paul Webster – who was head of production at Miramax between 1995 and 1997 before leaving the company to co-create Film Four – said that he believed the mounting allegations against Weinstein are “just the particularly rancid tip of the iceberg at the company”.
“Miramax was absolutely a cult, the cult of Harvey, and that’s how he got away with his behaviour for so long,” Webster said. “It was crude but very effective. People became brainwashed, some people had nervous breakdowns. People would be hired and then destroyed for no apparent reason, and then their careers and lives would be in tatters.
“Everything Harvey did was all about manipulation and fear,” he continued. “He was a massive bully. He would flatter people, get the best out of them and then dump on them really, really hard to destroy them. It was this whole thing of breaking people down so you could build them up in your own image.”
“I feel so ashamed because I knew, everyone knew,” Webster added. “I’ve been saying it for years that he’d eventually get done for rape, because it’s that pattern of bullying behaviour combined with the sex stuff. I can say now I did think he was a rapist.”
Jesse Berdinka, another former Miramax employee, said that the “mental weight” of the occasionally “sadistic” experience of working at the company would affect him for the rest of his life.
“You see stories of domestic abuse on the news and think, how can people keep subjecting themselves to that? And then I would walk into the office the next day,” Berdinka said. “For me at least it was the drip, day after day, of never knowing if you are good enough or if you are going to be at the top of the world or the bottom of the shit list.”
Another former executive – who wished to remain anonymous – said that she believed she suffers from PTSD, and alleges that she once had a glass frame thrown in her direction by Weinstein, narrowly missing her head.
“It wasn’t just sexual abuse. Everyone got abused,” she said. “It didn’t really matter how high up you were, you got the same treatment.”
On Tuesday (October 24), actress Dominique Huett sued The Weinstein Company – claiming that the company knew about the alleged inappropriate behaviour of Harvey Weinstein.