Three hours after The New York Times published its investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s alleged pattern of sexual misconduct, another of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Steven Spielberg, demurred when asked to comment. “I think that is a subject that is not on keynote for what we’re talking about here tonight,” he told the Associated Press Oct. 5 while standing next to “Spielberg” director Susan Lacy on the red carpet of that documentary’s New York Film Festival world premiere. “It’s a subject I don’t shy from, but it’s not relevant to what we’re discussing about Susan’s movie today. I have a lot of opinions about that, but not for this event tonight.”
Spielberg and Weinstein have known each other for decades. Last year, news broke that they were preparing competing films about Edgardo Mortara, a Jewish child who grew up to be a Catholic priest after the Papal States took him from his family in 1858. As a producer of “Shakespeare in Love,” Weinstein notoriously beat Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” for the best picture Oscar in 1998. Nonetheless, they seem to be on fairly cordial terms; this April, Weinstein told The Hollywood Reporter that he and Spielberg “once talked about producing [the Academy Awards] together. If we could survive each other, we’d do a great job.”
In his first interview following The Times article, Weinstein told Page Six that he intends to sue the newspaper for its “inability to be honest with [him], and their reckless reporting.” Sources told Page Six that the suit could be worth $50 million.
On the NYFF red carpet, Spielberg briefly acknowledged criticism of the two-and-a-half-minute “Ready Player One” trailer he released at San Diego Comic-Con, where it is extremely tough to spot a woman, despite the fact that Ernest Cline’s source novel prominently features two, Aech and Art3mis. “There are many women in the movie” he told IndieWire. “You’ll see.” Back in June 2017, Elizabeth Banks chastised Spielberg at the Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards because “he’s never made a movie with a female lead.” Banks released an apology the next day, explaining that she’d forgotten his 1985 drama “The Color Purple.” The dearth of female protagonists in Spielberg’s filmography is not broached in “Spielberg,” which airs tomorrow night on HBO.
Several female stars did address the scandal and show solidarity with Weinstein’s accusers on Twitter, including Brie Larson, who memorably did not clap when she presented this year’s Best Actor Oscar to Casey Affleck (who settled sexual harassment lawsuits brought by two women he worked with on “I’m Still Here”) and recently spoke out against similar allegations at Cinefamily; date rape survivor Lena Dunham, and Amber Tamblyn, author of the September Times Op-Ed “I’m Done With Not Being Believed,” in which she describes being asked out by actor James Woods when she was 16 and he was 52 (Tamblyn’s Weinstein response was retweeted by Judd Apatow, one of Bill Cosby’s loudest and most persistent critics). Rose McGowan, who The Times reported accepted a $100,000 settlement from Weinstein in 1997 related to an encounter in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival, tweeted, “Women fight on. And to the men out there, stand up. We need you as allies. #bebrave”