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by Dana Harris
March 2, 2012 9:57 AM
20 Comments
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A Longtime Weinstein Employee Responds: ''Bully' is a step toward his own redemption'

Harvey Weinstein and bullied student Alex Libby.

Yesterday, we republished former Miramax executive Mark Lipsky's post about the parallels between the upcoming TWC release "Bully" and Harvey Weinstein's own behavior. Wrote Lipsky, 

If Harvey has, in fact, reformed, he needs to come out and say so publicly. He needs to own his past behavior, admit to his addiction – bullying is an addiction, after all, both to power and dominance – and pledge to never bully anyone again. If he’s looking for ink and controversy (and he certainly is) there’s no more honest or powerful way for him and the film to get it.

Today, I received this letter from longtime Weinstein exec Meryl Poster, acknowledging that Weinstein has a "history of a bad temper" but "has made more progress on those weaknesses than anyone I know."   

Writes Poster, "He feels BULLY is a step towards his own redemption. He’s made a valiant effort for a significant amount of change in himself over the last 10 to 15 years. He looks at this film as one of the great causes of his life and hopes it will have the same effect on the audience."

We're giving her letter, which follows in full, the same space as Lipsky's. 

Dear Dana, 

To my dismay, I just read the letter posted on your site from my former Miramax co-worker Mark Lipsky regarding his opinion of Harvey and our documentary BULLY. As you know, I spent 15 years as the Head of Production at Miramax and currently am the head of The Weinstein Company Television division. I was lucky enough to spend most of my career growing and learning under Harvey and Bob’s leadership, and while I was there Mark was working in the theatrical

Harvey knows his own weaknesses as any great leader does and has made more progress on those weaknesses than anyone I know.

division. He later, like me and many others who get the chance to work with the Weinsteins, was given the chance to move up into a more prominent role as the Head of Distribution. Even after his departure from the company, Harvey and Bob continued to give him a chance and continued to support his endeavors bringing him on as a consultant from time to time (and of course Mark never resisted their help). Mark has a history of being bitter over the years since he’s parted from the company.

It’s unfortunate that he feels the need to publicly tear down Harvey whose history of a bad temper makes him an easy target. In script meetings, Harvey always wanted the heroes to have flaws. I know he has flaws, he knows he has flaws, but as a mentor, employer, father and arguably one of the film industry’s most prominent trailblazers, Harvey knows his own weaknesses as any great leader does and has made more progress on those weaknesses than anyone I know. As a public figure and more importantly as a father, he realizes how important the example he sets is.

I want to thank Mark, though, for bringing to everyone’s attention the correlation between BULLY and Harvey. Although his points are not at all true nor deserved by Harvey, he opened the door to give me this chance to speak on behalf of all of the Weinstein’s longtime employees about one of Harvey’s many intentions with the film BULLY. 

When Harvey took on BULLY, he told the filmmakers and the children about his own bad temper and history of taking it out on other people -- he even opened his argument to the MPAA with this fact.

When Harvey took on BULLY, he told the filmmakers and the children about his own bad temper and history of taking it out on other people -- he even opened his argument to the MPAA with this fact, as he and one of the film’s bullying victims Alex Libby pleaded for a fair rating. He told the filmmakers that while his main intention with the film is to produce an unprecedented amount of progress and forward thinking on what’s become a social crisis for children everywhere, he feels BULLY is a step towards his own redemption. He’s made a valiant effort for a significant amount of change in himself over the last 10 to 15 years. He looks at this film as one of the great causes of his life and hopes it will have the same effect on the audience. 

I hardly see Mark’s point in feeling the need to put this unnecessary negativity out in such a public way about a man who's known for raising millions for the Robin Hood Foundation, AMFAR, 9/11 victims, schools, libraries, the list goes on. Aside from charitable work, he has a huge heart and values family more than anything. When he learned of the devastating news that NYPD Office Peter Figoski lost his life in the line of duty, he was compelled to do something for the Figoski family and subsequently planned trips for them to the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards to give them something to look forward to and to enjoy with their family following a very difficult period for them. I personally have been the beneficiary at times of his generous counsel and support – something he provides to those in need more than anyone knows. In script meetings, Harvey always said he liked heroes that aren't too good, he liked flawed heroes. Well, Harvey is certainly flawed, but he is also a hero.

Mark, we hope you read this and would love to hear about all of the positive things you have been doing to better those around you and charities you are involved in. As Harvey says: stop criticizing, start doing. 

Sincerely,

Meryl Poster

The Weinstein Company
President, Television

Go HERE to read the Mark Lipsky post that inspired Poster to reply.

20 Comments

  • Raymond Woods | March 7, 2012 10:32 AMReply

    Check out this great think piece about bully
    http://filmcycle.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/about-this-bully-situation/

  • Jon | March 5, 2012 3:39 AMReply

    In any case, all of this makes for great publicity for the film.

  • Mark Lipsky | March 3, 2012 6:19 PMReply

    K.A. - That's a really interesting point. I'm not sure the distinction as you've described it is necessarily accurate or definitive though. I personally believe "deliberate act of sadism" is too narrow a definition. For instance, dictionary.com broadens it out as follows: "a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people." Merriam Webster is pretty close to that: "a blustering browbeating person; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker." In my experience and according to many others who came ofter me, the dictionary definitions are right on in in this case. It may be true that once or twice someone came away from a 'Harvey incident' muttering to themselves about his bad temper rather than his bullying, but outside of testimony from a psychiatrist in a formal courtroom setting or a psychology master class lecture, it's my feeling that such distinctions are fairly trivial. I think we're better served looking to the victim and asking 'how do you feel?' and my guess is that overwhelmingly you'll find that they feel bullied which, to me anyway, is unacceptable and contemptible regardless of any technicalities or special circumstances. My own opinions aside though, I'm grateful to you for deepening the discussion in such a thoughtful way and inducing me check myself.

  • K.A. | March 3, 2012 2:08 PMReply

    (Of course, that distinction -- where a "bad temper" is a short fuse, but bullying is a form of manifested psychopathy -- may be why Weinstein and his reps are emphasizing the former term to minimize what he's actually doing, if bullying is indeed what he is doing.)

  • K.A. | March 3, 2012 2:02 PMReply

    I don't know enough about Weinstein's behavior to know if his issue is a bad temper or bullying, but I don't like how the two are treated synonymously. They are not at all the same thing: "bad temper" means being wired to react more quickly and intensely to irritation leading to unacceptable outbursts, and it's hard for a person to control. But the other is a deliberate act of sadism and cruelty because one derives pleasure from other people's suffering. It is born of a calm and intentional state. Neither make for professional or healthy work environments, but they are so different that it merits the distinction. A bad temper going unchecked due to power is unacceptable, but bullying is absolutely horrific.

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  • bugaloo | March 2, 2012 9:51 PMReply

    Exactly how, U.B. Illin, do you contribute to this discussion or even put it in context by simply putting down all participants and being more of a childish name-caller than than anyone else so far?

  • Slim | March 2, 2012 5:09 PMReply

    From an outsider observer, with no biases here (I work in the industry but have never worked for the Weinsteins; I have never met either Mark Lipsky or Meryl Poster):

    Mark Lipsky's letter and responses have read as honest, genuine, reasonable, and fair-minded.

    Meryl Poster's letter reads as sycophancy.

  • Count of Monte Cristo | March 2, 2012 8:31 PM

    Well said Slim. I agree Mark Lipsky's letter speaks the truth and in both these letters we can hear the one who is full of integrity and the one who lacks it completely. It's so interesting reading these two letters back to back.

  • Mark Lipsky | March 2, 2012 3:07 PMReply

    U.B. Illin - Thanks for the very appropriate segue into online anonymity which accounts for an alarming increase in the harshest and most destructive bullying. As you've kindly demonstrated, anonymity enables the worst and most dangerous bullying that untold numbers of kids around the world are now subject to. The kind that lives and breeds in hidden, fetid ooze into which they drag their victims and from which it's nearly impossible to escape or recover. If haters and bullies (yes, U.B. one of them) were made to crawl out from under their rocks and into the light before tossing their insipid grenades, few would have the courage. Who U.B. Illin?

  • Stewart | March 2, 2012 2:58 PMReply

    I'm assuming Harry Weinstein is capable of writing his own letters about himself, which he should rather than others doing this.

  • Kathy | March 2, 2012 1:37 PMReply

    Meryl, I do not agree with you at all., Harvey should speak about this, the movie puts $ in his pocket. I want to hear from HIM

  • skg | March 2, 2012 1:29 PMReply

    blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Now do something worthwhile and lobby to get this shown in every middle and high school in America.

  • Noah Langer | March 2, 2012 1:38 PM

    Seriously. Field trip to the movies? Kids will eat that up, and maybe learn something by accident. I remember when I was in 5th or 6th grade my class was learning about the Romanovs, so the school took them to see Disney's Anastasia. Talk about a waste of time. My mother wouldn't sign the permission slip, but I bet she would've for "Bully".

  • Mark Lipsky | March 2, 2012 1:18 PMReply

    Hi Meryl -



    Nice to hear from you albeit in defense of bullying by those who give
    to charity.



    My post wasn't intended to tear down Harvey or to infer that he's
    never done a good work. In fact, I've often written and spoken about
    the fact that he and Bob have worked hard for and deserve all of the
    success they've enjoyed over the years. My point - maybe you want to
    re-read the post for clarification - was that the imminent release of
    "Bully" presents Harvey a unique opportunity to come clean where it
    counts - in public - about his long history of bullying which would be
    one of his most selfless and meaningful good works. Instead, I guess
    he's taking the opposite tack and leaving it to the troops to defend a
    career of bad behavior by throwing out a smokescreen of good deeds.



    I well remember incidents where he'd beat someone down and then send
    them flowers along with an apology. Handing someone a bouquet of
    flowers is a generous and lovely impulse but don't you agree that the
    gesture becomes somewhat tainted by the beatdown that precipitated an
    otherwise thoughtful gift?



    Are you saying that the ends somehow justify the means. (No pun
    intended.) History is full of powerful people that throughout their
    lifetimes accomplished wonderful things for many people but who, along
    the way, raped and pillaged and committed other horrible acts without
    contrition. (No, haters, I'm not saying Harvey's ever literally raped
    anyone.)



    This has nothing to do with bitterness, Meryl. Am I tearing Harvey
    down by shining a light on the very clear irony of the moment and
    suggesting that he make the most of a rare moment and come out of the
    closet - publicly - as other powerful people have done in the course
    of history - thereby leveraging his contrition as a way of broadening
    out and deepening the conversation which will inevitably result in
    many, many more people seeing the film?



    Yes, I've written about Harvey in the past and it's never exclusively
    been to sing his praises. There are countless others, yourself, for
    instance, who are motivated to do that and have ad nauseum. As a
    staunch supporter of independent films for decades, when I point out
    how easily Harvey will claim to a national TV audience - as he did a few
    weeks ago - to have "made" rather than distributed "My Left Foot," am I tearing him down or
    simply setting the record straight and giving credit where credit is
    actually due.



    Miramax did a brilliant job releasing "My Left Foot" but I guess
    Harvey, like all bullies, has such low self esteem that he can't help
    but grab for more credit. More acclaim.



    No, my post wasn't about Harvey, it was about what I assume is a
    monumentally valuable and timely film that, yes, everyone should see.
    I'm simply suggesting a strategy for realizing that very worthy goal.
    Saying 'watch this movie, it's important' doesn't carry nearly the
    same weight as saying 'watch this movie, I've been there, I've lived
    it, I've been the Bully and I regret it.' I don't know the answer
    offhand, but how many films, including some from Harvey himself,
    scream out 'based on a true story'? Why do they do that? Why make that
    claim early and often in the marketing? It's because it tends to
    connect with folks more viscerally and it helps personalize it in a
    way that leads to a broader and more powerful want-to-see factor. Same
    thing here, Meryl.



    I'm not bitter. I'm just someone who believes that bullying is among
    the most destructive acts that one human being can inflict on another.
    It can be devastating. It lingers and festers and affects the bullied
    their whole lives. I had a conversation with my sister about this
    yesterday and she reluctantly dredged up what I'd consider a typical,
    perhaps even trivial-sounding incident of being bullied in grade
    school. Decades later that incident remains tattooed on her psyche.
    Just as the multitude of bullying incidents that occurred in the
    hallways of Miramax will never be forgotten by Harvey's and Bob's victims.



    I bullied someone in grade school once and hated myself for. Luckily,
    my victim confronted me about it years later and I had the opportunity
    to apologize. Here's Harvey's opportunity to not only apologize to
    everyone he's ever bullied, but to serve the film and issue at the
    same time. Nothing will drive more people into the theater to see
    "Bully" than for Harvey Weinstein to stand up in front of the world,
    in front of all his powerful and celebrated friends and business
    partners, in front of all the bullies and potential bullies of the
    world and their victims, and say enough is enough.



    This time Harvey, you can do well by doing good and in doing so,
    you're sure to make the world and the lives of many thousands of
    children a better place.



    Come on Harvey, what do you say?



    Btw, Meryl, my charitable contributions can hardly compare to those
    made by Harvey. He and Bob have made enormous sums of money over the
    years and I have not. I do what I can, though, and thanks for asking.

  • Claudio Medina | March 3, 2012 11:26 AM

    Well said Mr. Lipsky.
    I also think Mr. Harvey would set a great example by coming clean. Himself, not through others.

  • Noah Langer | March 2, 2012 2:30 PM

    Well said, Mark and David. Speaking of the internet age, how about a viral campaign a la "It Get's Better," only in reverse? Where bullies can express their remorse, and their dedication to positive change? I'd take part. I'm sure we could all think of times when we were pricks for no good reason. I'd say that Harvey could start the whole thing up himself, but then I found this (hope no one's offended that it's bootlegged):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SSWhEuWaRc

  • David | March 2, 2012 2:12 PM

    Kudos, Mark. I think your points are salient, and as with many (past and present) bullies, Mr. Weinstein may need to see and hear it several times, seen several different ways, before that tipping point is found.

    Mr. Weinstein, now that one of your employees has defended you, fire your advisors who should have warned you of the PR fallout (not suggesting you requested or required it - but based on what people know about you, it's not that far fetched). In any case, in THIS case, the only one who can speak for you or defend you on THIS issue, is yourself. You are an intense and intelligent man, I'm shocked you didn't realize that the only option is to stand up for yourself in either the mea culpa, or to defend yourself in where Mark missed the boat (if he in fact did).

    We live in a different world, Mr. Weinstein, where social media and the like have an opinion on EVERY issue at the speed of light. If that troubles you, then perhaps it's time to retire. But my sense is you are a fighter, and we respect that too! As Mark suggested, you have a brilliant opportunity for personal, never mind financial and social, gain.

    I hope my comments have come out less bitter than instructive/constructive from a person who tries to see all sides of the issue.

    Thank you,

    A fan

  • Jumbo | March 2, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    Must be a really busy news day. Seriously.....

  • U.B. Illin | March 2, 2012 2:30 PM

    This exchange speaks for itself. You're both sickening and petty. I do have to commend the two of you on having this exchange out in the open, though. Having spent some time in LA working on television production, I observed this level of nastiness just about everywhere I went, but it was always behind backs and closed doors. Yes, Harvey's a d-bag and a bully, but you two are just as bad, if not worse: the bitter ex and the simpering, defensive toady. You deserve each other. Blech.