Its a strange day for Harvey Weinstein. On Friday, Greek columnist Panagiotis “Taki” Theodoracopulos published an interview with Weinstein for The Spectator that included a bizarre admission.
“You were born rich and privileged and you were handsome,” Taki quoted Weinstein as telling him in a recent conversation that took place at the producers new office in Manhattan. “I was born poor, ugly, Jewish and had to fight all my life to get somewhere. You got lotsa girls, no girl looked at me until I made it big in Hollywood. Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone. But I never, ever forced myself on a single woman.”
Hours later, Weinsteins lawyer, Ben Brafman, released a strongly worded denial that his client ever made such comments.
“I was present for the conversation; it was not an interview, but a social meeting between old friends,” Brafman told The Hollywood Reporter. “Harvey and Taki did not discuss the case, nor would I allow him to. They talked about old Hollywood and the contrast to European culture, and I think Taki sees Harvey in that older light. Mr. Weinstein never said anything about trading movie roles for sexual favors. You have my word that Harvey did not say that.”
Taki issued his own statement, saying, “After 41 years as a Spectator columnist without a single retraction, I believe that I may have misrepresented Harvey Weinsteins conversation with me in New York last month. It was my mistake. We were discussing Hollywood and I may have misunderstood certain things about the methods of that place. I had nothing to do with the headline of my article and I hope I have not damaged his case. It was, after all, a social visit.”
In his original column, Taki claimed that Weinstein reached out to him with a “world exclusive”—the exclusive being Weinsteins opinion on the relationship that one of his accusers, Asia Argento, had with Anthony Bourdain, the chef, author, and beloved TV personality who committed suicide last month. But the resulting piece was more of a 780-word head-scratcher suggesting the producers seduction techniques were innocent and leaving the reader with more questions than answers. Chief among them: why would Weinstein, who is entangled in myriad sexual assault allegations and multiple legal battles, offer an interview in which he piles onto his grieving accuser? And why was he offering any interview at all?
Taki explained that his relationship with Weinstein dates back to a time when the producer wanted to make a documentary about the writers life. Though Taki passed on the opportunity for a collaboration, he adopted Weinstein as a friend—inviting him to his annual Christmas party. (“He hits on every young woman but in a naïve way,” Taki wrote, describing Weinsteins yearly holiday-celebration showing. “Will you give me your address and Ill make you a star, is the theme of the pickup. Some say yes, some say no. His reaction was always the same. Smile and laugh and hit on the next one.”) For American readers unfamiliar with his byline: Taki is the 81-year-old son of a shipping magnate who has written pieces like “The difficult art of finding the right yacht” during his decades-long career at The Spectator. The Independent identifies him as an “aging womanizer” whose “advice to lovelorn men is to pursue a girl until she gives in, even if its out of sympathy.” He has written sympathetically about another alleged serial predator in Hollywood—James Toback, before his avalanche of allegations—and even appeared as himself in Tobacks 2013 film Seduced and Abandoned. He is also, as evidenced by his closing sentiments, unabashedly Team Harvey.
Hes lost everything and is called a monster even by my concierge at a London hotel who overheard me discuss this story with my editor. Hollywood has always treated women like dirt. In my book the one that got caught should not pay for the rest of the bums that make these horrible films of today. At least Harvey made good ones. Very good ones at that.
In May, a grand jury moved to indict the disgraced mogul on charges of rape in the first and third degree, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. At the time, Brafman told press, “Mr. Weinstein intends to enter a plea of Not Guilty and vigorously defend against these unsupported allegations that he strongly denies. We will soon formally move to dismiss the indictment and if this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr. Weinstein to be acquitted.”
On Monday, Weinstein pleaded not guilty to three new charges—including predatory sexual assault and a criminal sexual act. The predatory sexual assault charges carry a minimum sentence of 10 years, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
In spite of the charges—and the allegations of sexual misconduct from over 60 accusers—Weinstein is still hopeful about reviving a career in Hollywood so much so that he is reading scripts for potential new projects.
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