Home Video Unwitting Player in Ronan Farrow Book ‘Catch and Kill’

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, which hits bookstores Oct. 15, outlines alleged efforts by NBC News in 2015 to quash Farrow’s story on alleged sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein — the former Hollywood powerbroker and co-founder of The Weinstein Company.

Farrow’s reporting eventually found its way into The New Yorker in 2017, resulting in Weinstein’s firing from TWC and subsequent criminal charges filed against him in New York on behalf of several women who alleged sexual misconduct. Events that would spearhead the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein has denied any criminal wrongdoing.

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In Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, home video makes a cameo appearance as an indirect player in Weinstein’s cozy relationship with NBC’s corporate partner Universal Pictures.

According to the book, Weinstein contacted Ron Meyer, chairman of Universal Pictures, looking to secure a home video and digital distribution deal with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for TWC movies.

TWC had previously distributed packaged-media content through a partnership with Steve Bannon-led (yes, that Steve Bannon) Genius Products — a relationship that ended when Genius filed for involuntary bankruptcy in 2011.

Genius later filed a $130 million lawsuit against TWC alleging fraud. The case was resolved in 2018 with TWC agreeing to pay a $2.5 million settlement.

TWC titles were subsequently shepherded to retail by Starz Media’s Anchor Bay Home Entertainment after TWC acquired a 25% stake in Starz Media.

“I wanted to talk to you about Universal doing our home video and VOD — we’re talking to your guys and I think it’s always good to have a word from the top,” Weinstein wrote in an email to Meyer, as reported by The Wrap from an advanced copy of the book.

“I would love to make this work,” Meyer wrote back to Weinstein. “I look forward to us being in business together. As I told you, if there is anything but a yes please let me know.”

The potential deal, as many in Hollywood, never materialized.

Regardless, Weinstein’s home video request occurred the same year NBC News decided not to air Farrow’s news story on Weinstein.

Farrow contends NBC News senior executives caved to pressure from Weinstein — charges both NBC and Weinstein deny.

 

Netflix’s Stephen Bruno Joins MGM as Chief Marketing Officer

Metro Goldwyn Mayer March 21 announced it has hired marketing executive Stephen Bruno as chief marketing officer. Bruno joins the studio from Netflix and will start in April.

Bruno, who has been VP, global marketing at Netflix since 2015, will oversee global marketing and brand strategy for MGM and its film and television properties. He will work with CCO Christopher Brearton, as well as Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM’s worldwide television group, Nancy Tellem, executive director, and Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM Studios’ motion picture group, to promote the MGM brand and all of the Company’s film and television projects and properties.

He will also work with teams throughout MGM to identify and execute on marketing opportunities that tap into the loyal following of its historic library while also attracting new audiences around the world.

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“Stephen is a creative industry leader and we are excited to welcome him to MGM as we build on our momentum as a leading independent content creator backed by an iconic library of brands,” Burnett and Brearton said in a co-statement. “He has been at the forefront of developing disruptive marketing executions in traditional and emerging media spaces across the globe.”

The executives said Bruno would be especially invaluable to United Artists Releasing as the newly-expanded venture furthers the studio’s legacy.

At Netflix, Bruno oversaw the global teams responsible for conceptualizing, creating and executing on the positioning and promotion of the streaming service’s originals across all verticals including series, “Stranger Things,”“13 Reasons Why,” “Orange is the New Black,” “The Crown,” “Narcos,” feature films, Bird BoxMudboundTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, documentaries and unscripted, Wild Wild CountryMaking a MurdererQueer EyeNailed It, and comedy specials.

Prior to Netflix, Bruno worked at The Weinstein Company and Miramax Films, supervising the execution of several theatrical releases including Django UnchainedSilver Linings PlaybookLee Daniel’s The ButlerThe Artist, and Fruitvale Station. Bruno also worked at HBO as a Director of Consumer Marketing working on titles such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Eastbound and Down.

 

 

The Weinstein Co. Files for Bankruptcy Protection

As expected, The Weinstein Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware – five months after allegations of improper sexual behavior by co-founder and co-chairman Harvey Weinstein derailed the venerable studio/distributor.

TWC reportedly is set to sell its assets to Dallas-based investor group Lantern Capital Partners.

“Under the agreement, Lantern will purchase substantially all of the assets of [TWC], subject to certain conditions, including approval of the bankruptcy court,” TWC said in a statement reported by NPR. “The [TWC board] selected Lantern in part due to Lantern’s commitment to maintain the assets and employees as a going concern.”

Notable to the deal: removal of non-disclosure agreements allegedly used by Harvey Weinstein to silence his female accusers.

“The company expressly releases any confidentiality provision to the extent it has prevented individuals who suffered or witnessed any form of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein from telling their stories,” read the statement.

Earlier this month, an investor group led by former Small Business Administration head (under President Obama) Maria Contreras-Sweet and investor Ron Burkle, had agreed to pay $500 million for the TWC, which included assumption of $225 million in debt.

That deal fell apart reportedly after additional liabilities totaling more than $60 million were discovered.

The Weinstein Co. Sale Off Again as New Fiscal Liabilities Emerge

The rollercoaster sale of The Weinstein Co. has apparently gone off the rails again after buyers reportedly discovered undisclosed liabilities totaling more than $60 million.

The setback could see the famed studio/distributor (and home entertainment unit) co-founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein filing for bankruptcy, putting the jobs of 130 people in doubt, according to The Los Angeles Times.

TWC troubles began last year after Harvey Weinstein was accused of improper sexual behavior, including rape, by dozens of accusers – charges he denies.

The buyers, spearheaded by former Small Business Administration head (under President Obama) Maria Contreras-Sweet and investor Ron Burkle, had agreed to pay $500 million for the TWC, which included assumption of $225 million in debt.

Contreras-Sweet envisioned running the company with a female-centric board of directors, among other management moves.

“All of us have worked in earnest on the transaction to purchase the assets of the Weinstein Company. However, after signing and entering into the confirmatory diligence phase, we have received disappointing information about the viability of completing this transaction,” Contreras-Sweet said in a statement. “As a result, we have decided to terminate this transaction.”

New fiscal liabilities reportedly included $20 million in accounts payable, $17 million due in an arbitration award, and $27 in residuals, according to The Times.

The Weinstein Co. Board Confirms Asset Sale

Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the Small Business Administration in the Obama Administration, has reached an agreement with the New York State Attorney General’s office to purchase The Weinstein Co. – less than a week after the embattled studio’s board said the deal was off and that it would file for bankruptcy.

The award-winning studio – including The Weinstein Co. Home Entertainment – founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, is embroiled in myriad allegations of improper sexual conduct, including rape, by Harvey Weinstein – charges Weinstein denies.

Contreras-Sweet, together with billionaire investor Ron Burkle, had offered $500 million for TWC – a deal that apparently fell through after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against TWC on Feb. 11.

Schneiderman subsequently voiced his disappointment that TWC was looking at filing for bankruptcy.

In a statement, reported by Reuters, Contreras-Sweet said investors had reached an agreement to purchase TWC assets, launch a new company, majority led by women, save about 150 jobs, protect small businesses that are owed money and create a victims’ compensation fund, among other objectives.

“We are grateful to the New York State Attorney General’s office for their efforts in helping us reach an agreement and we are grateful to our investors who have believed in this process and in the compelling value of a female-led company. We also want to thank all the parties who returned to the negotiating table to help reach this development,” read the statement.

The Weinstein Co. board later issued a statement confirming the deal.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Ron Burkle and his team at Yucaipa for bringing about this agreement,” read the statement.

Schneiderman, in a statement, reiterated his support for the deal.

“Our office will support a deal that ensures victims will be adequately compensated, employees will be protected moving forward, and those who were responsible for misconduct at TWC will not be unjustly rewarded.”

The Weinstein Co. Eyeing Bankruptcy

Embattled independent studio The Weinstein Co. is set to file for bankruptcy protection after a planned $500 million sale to an investor group fell through.

The Feb. 25 announcement – disclosed by TWC’s board of directors – follows months of turmoil that saw co-founder Harvey Weinstein fired from the company last October after myriad complaints of sexual misconduct – behavior that helped spawn the nationwide #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

With a content legacy that has generated 341 Academy Award nominations, 81 Oscars and 12 Emmy nominations for TV productions, TWC generated significant interest throughout Hollywood. The company includes TWC Home Entertainment, which launched in 2005.

Last November, Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the Small Business Administration under President Obama, together with billionaire investor Ron Burkle, placed a $275 million offer for TWC, which included assumption of $225 million in debt. Contreras-Sweet sought to have TWC led by female management, in addition to the establishment of a victims’ fund.

Then on Feb. 11, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against New York-based TWC, Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein, alleging violations of civil rights, human rights and business laws.

Schneiderman questioned components of the deal, including actual existence of a victims’ fund and alleged tone-deaf response to sexual harassment complaints from COO David Glasser, who was fired by the board on Feb. 16.

With the deal collapsed, TWC board issued a statement critical of the bid and bidders. Specifically, the board lamented failed fiscal guarantees that it said would have helped sustain the studio during the sale process.

“While we deeply regret that your actions have led to this unfortunate outcome for our employees, our creditors and any victims, we will now pursue the board’s only viable option to maximize the company’s remaining value: An orderly bankruptcy process,” said the board.

How events impact home entertainment remains to be seen. TWC licensed retail distribution to Genius Products, then sold them to Vivendi Entertainment in 2009 following the former’s bankruptcy. In 2010, TWC inked retail distribution with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which then moved to Anchor Bay Entertainment (and Starz Distribution) in 2011.

Lionsgate assumed the rights following its $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz in 2016.