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Scraps from Weinstein’s table

Culture | A deal to buy The Weinstein Company has questionable benefit for victims
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 3/02/18, 03:40 pm

Just days after The Weinstein Company announced plans to file bankruptcy, a group of investors said it would save the company with a renegotiated sale. Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the Small Business Administration, said Thursday she and other investors had committed to a new buyout plan after walking away last month.

Contreras-Sweet’s group was the favored bidder for The Weinstein Company, but the original deal fell through under pressure from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Concerned that a sale of the movie production company would leave victims of sexual assault and harassment without redress, Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit last month. Scores of women have accused Harvey Weinstein of a range of nonconsensual sexual encounters, and some of them have sued in federal court, claiming Weinstein used a criminal enterprise to cover up abuse.

Contreras-Sweet announced Friday the deal was back on and she would form a new company with The Weinstein Company’s assets and Schneiderman’s blessing.

“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,” Contreras-Sweet said in a statement.

The deal is worth about $500 million and includes the assumption of about $225 million of the studio’s debt. The company has barely had enough cash to keep the lights on since Weinstein’s accusers began coming forward last fall. Several news outlets have reported the new company will dedicate $90 million to compensate Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, including $60 million from the buyers and $30 million from insurance proceeds. The buyers haven’t confirmed the amount.

“We are pleased to have received express commitments from the parties that the new company will create a real, well-funded victims compensation fund, implement HR policies that will protect all employees, and will not unjustly reward bad actors,” Schneiderman’s office said in a statement, noting that the civil rights investigation was still active.

One group has not weighed in on the sale: Weinstein’s accusers, who include prominent actresses. Is $90 million sufficient to compensate them? The number of women who have stepped forward is up to 84. Do the math and take out what they have to pay their lawyers, and then recall that former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly once paid about $32 million to one of his sexual assault accusers. The Weinstein Company has sexual abuse victims on the ropes and it knows it. Harvey Weinstein’s accusers face uphill battles in court due to lack of evidence and statutes of limitations on crimes committed years ago. Despite a massive campaign for women’s empowerment, it seems the victims of sexual abuse still have the smallest voice at the negotiating table.

Associated Press/Photo by Timothy D. Easley Associated Press/Photo by Timothy D. Easley Kim Davis

Her side of the story

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky whose convictions about the Bible and marriage briefly landed her in jail in 2015, released a book this week detailing her ordeal titled Under God’s Authority (New Revolution Publishers), co-written by Liberty Counsel’s John Aman and Mat Staver. After the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage, Davis would not sign her name to marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Rowan County, Ky. She was jailed for five days for refusing to follow a court order and was released on a compromise that allowed her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses without her signature or approval. After Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, assumed office in December 2015, he ordered clerks’ names removed from all Kentucky marriage licenses. Davis’ book coincides with her campaign for reelection. She won the job as a Democrat but has since switched to the Republican Party. Four other Democrats are running against her, including one of the men who, with his same-sex partner, attempted to get a marriage license from her in 2015. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke The Comcast Center in Philadelphia

Europe’s most wanted

Remember the ongoing saga of who owns whom among Disney, Fox, and the U.K. television group Sky? A new character showed up this week to make the plot even more complicated. Last year, Comcast, the U.S. megacorp that owns NBCUniversal, tried to buy Fox. Disney offered more and secured a deal to buy Fox’s film production side while billionaire Rupert Murdoch and his family held onto the cable networks, including Fox News. Fox was in the middle of a deal to buy Sky, the biggest cable operation in the United Kingdom, when Disney, the bigger fish, came along to gulp them both down. Now Comcast has offered 1.75 pounds ($2.41) more per share to buy Sky, unhooking it from the Fox deal and wresting it from Disney’s control. The move could be a revenge play by Comcast against Disney, but, regardless, it shows the importance of Sky—whose shares rose after word of Comcast’s bid got out—and the craving of U.S. companies for a share of the media business in Britain as an aging Murdoch divvies up his empire. —L.L.

Lost and found

French customs agents conducting a random search of a passenger bus Feb. 16 stumbled upon a painting by impressionist master Edgar Degas that was stolen more than eight years ago. Les Choristes, a small canvas roughly 12½ by 10½ inches, was stashed in an unclaimed suitcase in the luggage compartment. The painting disappeared from a museum in Marseille, France, in 2009. It depicts a scene from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni—L.L.

Little gold men

The Oscars are Sunday night, and if the last few years are predictive at all, long-winded political statements will dominate the night. If you want to catch up before the awards, WORLD Magazine has reviewed many of the best picture nominees, including Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Lady Bird; Darkest Hour; The Post; Dunkirk; and Phantom Thread. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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