Since the bombshell allegations of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein first came to light in 2017, Bob, his younger brother, longtime business partner and co-founder of Miramax Films and later Weinstein Co., has largely avoided the spotlight while distancing himself from his brother.
Now with Harvey, 67, sentenced to 23 years in prison, Bob, 65, has quietly started staging a comeback. He has announced the launch of a New York-based production company, Watch This Entertainment, focusing on comedies, family fare and high-end adult thrillers.
He tapped Pantea Ghaderi, a former publicity executive at Weinstein Co., as president of creative development. Their first project is the animated feature “Endangered,” with actress Téa Leoni producing and lending her voice. The French animation collective Illogic, nominated for an Oscar in 2018 for the animated short “Garden Party,” will direct.
The move has not gone unnoticed by Harvey’s accusers, who don’t believe Bob’s claims that he didn’t know what his brother was doing.
“I think that Bob is on the top of a pyramid of the many men and women who were Harvey Weinstein enablers,” said Rowena Chiu, a former assistant for Harvey who had worked in Miramax’s London office. She alleges that Harvey attempted to rape her during the 1998 Venice International Film Festival.
During Harvey’s trial, the Manhattan Supreme Court unsealed e-mails in which Bob excoriated his brother. In one he wrote: “U deserve a lifetime achievement award for the sheer savagery and immorality and inhumanness, for the acts u have perpetrated.” In another he fumed, “I pray there is a real hell. That’s where u belong.”
Despite Bob’s decoupling from his brother, those with claims against the company balk at his rehabilitation attempt. They say a code of conduct clause in Harvey’s last contract — approved by Bob and other board members — suggests he had knowledge of his brother’s behavior. Drawn up in 2015, it has a clause allowing for an escalating scale of fines from $250,000 to $1 million that Harvey was required to make if his “misconduct results in the Company making Obligated Payment to a person damaged by such misconduct.”
Chiu and another London assistant, Zelda Perkins, who also had accused Harvey of sexual harassment, split a $316,000 settlement. That payment, as was first reported in the New Yorker, came out of Bob’s personal bank account.
“Bob was the closest to Harvey, more than his lawyer,” said Chiu. “He didn’t sneeze without Bob knowing about it.”
Boom, then bust
In 1979, the brothers founded Miramax Films. Launched as a film distributor and named after their parents Miriam and Max, the venture changed the game for commercially successful indie movies. They dominated the market during the 1990s, producing a series of award-winning, critically acclaimed hits like “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
Harvey held sway over the art house films while Bob ran the numbers and Dimension Films, which produced commercially successful action and horror films like the “Scream” and “Scary Movie” franchises.
After they sold Miramax to Walt Disney Co. in 1993 for $60 million and subsequently established Weinstein Co., Bob remained in the background.
“Bob had his own skill set,” Bill Mechanic, a movie producer and former studio executive who worked with the brothers after they joined Disney, said in a 2017 interview. “He was making movies he liked. They were rougher, they were horror action pictures. He had a more commercial sensibility.”
Following the revelations of Harvey’s sexual misconduct, the Weinstein Co board, including Bob, fired him. Bob attempted to hold on to the film studio, but the scandal soon torpedoed that bid and it filed for bankruptcy.
In 2018, the private equity firm Lantern Capital Partners bought the studio for $289 million, including its 277-film library. Last March, former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Chief Executive Gary Barber joined Lantern Entertainment to create a new company, Spyglass Media Group, out of what was left of Weinstein Co.
Bob’s new film company, which was formed as a limited liability corporation in Nevada, has no publicly listed financial backers; it aims to develop two to three films per year.