Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Judd’

Bob Weinstein Gets Emotional on “Depraved” Harvey

October 14, 2017
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Bob Weinstein

The Weinstein Co. exec insists he had no idea about “the type of predator that he was” and is sickened by Harvey’s seeming lack of remorse. “I want him to get the justice that he deserves.”

For nearly 30 years, Bob Weinstein has lived in the shadow of his older brother Harvey Weinstein. While Harvey, 65, was the very public face of Miramax and then The Weinstein Company from Sundance to Cannes to Hollywood, palling around with stars and schmoozing Oscar voters, Bob, 62, has served on TWC’s board and tended to Dimension, their genre label, turning out movies like the Scream and Scary Movie franchises, that routinely made more money than all but Harvey’s biggest hits.

Now, in the wake of the dozens of allegations charging Harvey with three decades of sexual harassment, abuse and even rape, Harvey is out, fired from the company he co-founded with Bob in 2005. And Bob, thrust into an unaccustomed limelight, is forced to try to pick up the pieces amid the growing chaos. He insists that the company — which is expected to undergo a name change — can survive. But four of his fellow board members have resigned, and his COO David Glasser and other key members of his 150-employee staff have yet to commit to stay with the company. Amid widespread predictions that the Weinstein Co. will be forced to shut down or sell all or parts, he maintains, “There is a plan to come out on the other side.”

But right now, even as he struggles to right the company (of which he and Harvey both own about 20 percent each), he’s also coping with his own sense of shame and betrayal, expressing sympathy for Harvey’s victims while also questioning whether he should have done more in the face of Harvey’s alleged abusive behavior. Bob, who worked mostly in Los Angeles while Harvey presided over TWC’s New York offices, says he’s barely spoken to his brother over the past five years. “I could not take his cheating, his lying and also his attitude toward everyone,” he says. While he says he knew his brother was unfaithful to wife Georgina Chapman, Bob insists he had no idea about “the type of predator that he was” and is sickened by Harvey’s seeming lack of remorse. “I have a brother that’s indefensible and crazy,” says Bob, adding, “I want him to get the justice that he deserves.”

Amid the chaos and uncertain future at TWC, Bob agreed to a 45 minute phone interview with The Hollywood Reporter. During the talk, he often became emotional when discussing his brother and the company they co-founded. He refused to discuss certain specifics, such as the claim in The New York Times that he and the board were aware of Harvey’s settlements with women during Harvey’s most recent contract negotiation, or the fate of certain TWC movies, such as the year-end title The Current War. But he opened up on the personal aspect of the scandal and said he believed the motion picture Academy should expel his “sick and depraved” brother.

How do you assess what has happened?

I find myself in a waking nightmare. My brother has caused unconscionable suffering. As a father of three girls I say this with every bone in my body — I am heartbroken for the women that he has harmed. I’m a fighter. For my entire adult life, I fought for the films I want to see the light of day. I have fought for my employees, who have dedicated their lives to achieving the vision of this company that me and my brother founded. But I cannot fight what is indefensible.

The members of the board, including myself, did not know the extent of my brother’s actions. I know him on a personal level better than anyone. It’s hard to describe how I feel that he took out the emptiness inside of him in so many sick and depraved ways. It’s a sickness but not a sickness that is excusable. It’s a sickness that’s inexcusable. And I, as a brother, understood and was aware as a family member, that my brother needed help and that something was wrong.

I was also the object of a lot of his verbal abuse — at one time physical abuse. And I am not looking for one bit of sympathy from anyone. I do not put myself in the category at all of those women that he hurt. But it’s a complicated situation when it’s your brother doing the abusing to you as well. I saw it and I asked him to get help for many years. And that’s the truth. He avoided getting the help. We begged him.

This hurts, but I don’t feel an ounce of remorse coming from him, and that kills me too. When I heard his written, lame excuse… Not an excuse. When I heard his admission of feeling remorse for the victims and then him cavalierly, almost crazily saying he was going to go out and take on the NRA, it was so disturbing to me. It was utter insanity. My daughters all felt sick hearing this because we understood he felt nothing. I don’t feel he feels anything to this day. I don’t.

Steve Bannon; Harvey Weinstein


Harvey Weinstein and Steve Bannon: The Troubled Business Relationship Revealed

One question that is on everybody’s mind: He is your brother, how in the world did you not know this was going on? 

First of all, let me tell you something that people don’t know. For the last five years, I’ve probably talked to my brother ten times on any personal level. That’s the fracture that’s gone on. Since Dimension started, we ran two separate companies. So many of the people that he does business with — actors, actresses — I’ve never even met and they know it. I wanted to lead a separate existence. So we were leading two separate divisions.

I actually was quite aware that Harvey was philandering with every woman he could meet. I was sick and disgusted by his actions. But that’s the extent of what [I knew]. I said, “Harvey, you’re just cheating. Why do you constantly cheat?” I could see it. But I wasn’t in the room with him.

For me, I thought he was literally just going out there cheating in a pervasive way. It wasn’t like he even had a mistress. It was one after another and that I was aware of. But as far as being in a room and hearing the description in The New York Times? No way. No F-in way was I aware that that was the type of predator that he was. And the way he convinced people to do things? I thought they were all consensual situations.

I’ll tell you what I did know. Harvey was a bully, Harvey was arrogant, he treated people like shit all the time. That I knew. And I had to clean up for so many of his employee messes. People that came in crying to my office: “Your brother said this, that and the other.” And I’d feel sick about it.

Why did you tolerate his behavior?

Because it didn’t rise to a certain level. I would often counsel people and say, “You know what, you have a choice here. Leave. Leave, please leave.” I don’t know why some of them stayed. So I would just try to mend a broken fence. There is no mending this. This is not a broken fence. [But] I will not quit and leave the business that I built, rightfully so, and leave the films and filmmakers that I was involved in.

When you guys were negotiating Harvey’s 2015 employment contract…

That I’m not gonna [discuss]. I’m sorry, I’m not gonna be litigated in this article. There is an investigation going on, let that investigation take its course.

Do you think Harvey should be kicked out of the Academy?

Yes, I do. I was gonna actually write [to the Academy]. And I will do it. I am gonna write a note to them saying he definitely should be kicked out of the Academy.

You issued a statement earlier today saying that the company is not for sale despite reports that it could be shut down or its parts sold off. If it’s not for sale, what is the plan to salvage this company?

We are thinking about how to do that. We had an employee meeting the other day, all 180 of the employees. And me and [COO] David Glasser addressed them all. Talk about emotions cascading. These innocent people are hurt, so many of them not knowing anything about my brother’s behavior.

But I was touched because — and I did not know this was coming — they said, “We don’t want Harvey to have the last word on this company. We want to stay. We believe in the films, we believe in you, Bob, David Glasser, we believe in ourselves. And we definitely don’t want to let him win.” And that’s a part of the human story that nobody is hearing.

I know they’re saying “Shut this company down.” Well, they didn’t shut Fox News down, they didn’t shut NBC down. My brother is the one that should pay with everything. And I mean literally — whether it’s criminal or otherwise — I will be supportive of all of that. But I don’t think the people that are the employees of this company or the company itself should pay.

Harvey was the face of the company. That’s what he loves. It’s actually part of his whole thing, being famous. This brother is not that brother. This brother made just as much money, ran a successful division, more successful financially than Harvey’s. But I’m a different guy and I run it differently and people know it and they know I can be successful and we don’t need to do any of the Harvey stuff. And there is a plan. All I’m trying to do right now is go forward, figure out a plan, me and David Glasser and the board members have an idea of what we’d like to do, that we think would be the responsible thing to do for all the critics, rightfully so, with regards to the TWC side and yet for people to keep their jobs. And the pieces of the business that still can be resurrected and continue, we think that they should.

Michael Moore


Michael Moore Slams Weinstein Over Alleged Behavior, Calls for a “World Without Harveys”

Do you have a new name for the company?

We’re coming up with one. And it won’t be familial, I promise you that.

Any effort to keep the company going will depend on financial backing. Aren’t the finances of this company in trouble?

We have good enough finances, the banks gave us their support today.

What does that mean?

With scandal, sometimes people can just say “We don’t want to be associated.” They’re supporting us. And in terms of surviving, we have enough good product and things on our slate. We are moving quickly, and there are people interested in participating financially on the condition, rightfully so, that Harvey Weinstein is out for good.

But you have people like Lin-Manuel Miranda trying to get In the Heights extricated from the company. You have Disney dropping you guys from producing Artemis Fowl. Apple and Amazon have scrapped big TV projects. Collaborators are turning their backs on you. How do you survive that?

We will, is my answer, and there are a lot of things in process with regards to a lot of those kinds of things that will get resolved in an amicable way and a good financial way. I really don’t want to get into the particulars of any one situation. All I can say is that there is a plan to come out on the other side. And also the other side that makes the public rightfully feel happy that what Harvey stood for exists no longer. The public deserves that. The victims deserve that. Everybody deserves that.

Those bankers, they look at my slate and they know that I’ve made them money for many, many years. And lately I have had a cold hand, there is no two ways about it, on the Dimension side, but I have a fuckin’ great slate coming up and they’re aware of it. And this is a business where all the sudden you walk into Stephen King’s It one day. And things change. It is that kind of business. I have Six Billion Dollar Man, I’m closing a deal on it. I have Paddington 2, Paddington 3 is coming two years later. I’m back in the wheelhouse of what I’ve done.

And when I’m back on, there is money to be made, there’s jobs to be had. Harvey knew how to take credit, win his awards. But for me, there are no Academy Awards. Bob’s not going to the Golden Globes or the Oscars unless somebody invites me.

Weiner, left, and Russell


David O. Russell’s $160M TWC-Produced Drama Dead at Amazon

There have been reports that Jay-Z might buy Harvey’s stake in the company…

I’d love nothing more than that, but as far as I know, that is not a fact.

There are predictions for a raft of civil litigation against the company and against Harvey personally. How can the company withstand that?

That’s for lawyers and people like that to go deal with. That’s what they do. And things end up getting resolved, they do. My hope is that the community will allow us the time to get it right for those that deserve to continue on. That’s all I can say and that’s what I’m trying to do. But it’s going take time. I cannot do it in a week.

Has anyone in Hollywood reached out to you with support?

Yes, they have. David Glasser had a meeting with David Hutkin, who is the CFO, and the banks have been supportive. They want to see us succeed and they see that there is a product line of many movies on my side. TV shows that have been done. That they say this company can still be viable. And there have been other people that have been supportive, other companies that are doing business with us, that are sticking by us.

What about the talent agencies? They are going to be key to any company going forward. Have they expressed support?

There have been men and women, actresses, actors, directors, but especially women I would say, who are so properly disgusted with my brother’s actions. Their attitude is when there is finally the entire divorce, when there’s the plan in place, when there is the separation in place…

I have a reputation that’s different than Harvey, obviously, and I work differently than him. And David Glasser is his own man. We have our own status in the industry. And they’re saying we will give the two of you a chance. You have to make the separation. [With] my brother having contractual financial rights in this company, the divorce is going to be as speedy as we can make it. It’s in process.

But Harvey’s going to fight his firing.

Anybody can do what they want to do. I cannot control other people’s actions. But he was fired by the board, okay? I was on that board. I fired him. He can fight. It will be a losing fight.

He may be fired but he still maintains his ownership interest in the company, correct?

That is correct and we are going to seek to sever that. It can’t be done that quickly. But I am on it 24/7 and so is David Glasser and so is the board of directors that remain and so are the shareholders. This is being dealt with.

Given your relationship with Harvey, there is a contingent out there who believe that you were responsible for the leak of this information, especially the internal HR memo that made it to The New York Times. Is that true?

That’s totally untrue. I could take a lie detector test on that. I didn’t and, you know, Harvey is suspicious of everybody. People that are liars — lying to his wife, to his children, to everyone — well, they have to turn around and say, “Who stabbed me?” It’s unbelievable that even to this moment he is more concerned with who sold him out. I don’t hear concern or contrition for the victims. And I want them to hear that. Harvey has no remorse whatsoever. I have spoken to him two times [since news broke], hoping to hear “Oh my God, what have I done?” I didn’t hear that.

What did you hear?

I heard a guy who still was fighting to get back and I was disgusted by it. Do you know how disgusted I am? I divorced my brother five years ago. Literally. And those that know me personally in this company understood how I could not take being around him on any level. And certainly my daughters and my family knew it. I could not take his cheating, his lying and also his attitude toward everyone. I had to divorce myself to survive. Nobody is perfect. I’m not perfect. If I made mistakes, I apologize to everyone for not standing up stronger and sooner. But if you want to take my head and the company’s and everybody else’s…. If I lose at the end of the day, then I lose it. But I’ll fight for what I believe is right. And I’ll apologize for my own lack of strength at times.

Do you believe that the 2015 incident with model Ambra Battilana and the NYPD investigation derailed the deal for ITV to acquire the company’s TV division?

Again, this is where I draw the line in terms of getting into a specific. I don’t want to comment on that kind of specific.

I’ll ask a general question then: do you believe that Harvey’s antics hurt the business in the past?

I’m being honest. I don’t know what hurt or didn’t. I haven’t had a relationship with him as a brother for many, many years. But I’m ashamed that he is my brother, to be honest, and I am ashamed that these are his actions. I’m not thinking at this moment about dissecting what may or may not have affected any past situation. I’m so in the here and now and feel sick.

Mira Sorvino came out and told her story [in The New Yorker]. I have been a personal friend of Mira for the last several years. We reconnected when I rented a house in Malibu. Mira, her husband and her kids have come over and spent many hours together with us. [But] she never told me. And now I literally was texting with her, and she said, “Are you mad at me?” And I said, “Mad at you? I’m so proud of you, but I feel sick that you had to hold that kind of thing in.”

[Harvey] should never be allowed back, ever. Ever. He lost his rights. He didn’t lose his rights to be rehabilitated as a human being. But as far as being in this town again? I mean, give me a break.

What do you think Harvey will do with the rest of his life?

He lived for this business and he lived for the outside [persona]. There were no insides to this, as far as I can see. So unless there becomes an inner person inside there, I have no idea what he’ll do.

Will you cooperate with any police investigation?

A hundred percent if it came to that. If I had anything to offer, I would. A hundred percent.

There have been stories that once, when Harvey got physical with you, he broke your nose?

He didn’t break my nose but he got physical and there were several people there, and he assaulted me. And I should’ve done something then.

Why did you not?

All I can tell you is it’s like asking any other victim why they didn’t stand up. I regret that beyond all measure. I live with that. That was a defining moment for me of cowardice on my own part. Not easy to live with. It doesn’t absolve me of my own cowardice, but this is the thing that happens, this is the nature of that whole syndrome. And it’s disgusting on every level. But hopefully, the more it’s talked about — I was happy when people started to come out. It made other people braver.

Well, you’ve had some anger issues in the past as well… 

Yes, but I’ve done my work. Without getting into details, I’ve done enough work, and I’ve faced my own self. There are those that do the work and those that don’t. I did it. I’m not that guy and that’s not the way I operate.

Any last thing you’d like the entertainment community to hear from you with regard to this situation?

I’m mortified and disgusted by my brother’s actions. And I am sick for the victims. And I feel for them. I feel for them.



Weinstein: It took a split second for me to glimpse the predator in him

October 13, 2017

By Allison Pearson

Am I the only woman who has been in a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein and not been invited into the bathroom to watch him take a shower? If so, I count myself lucky.

In girth and mien, Weinstein is most like Tony Soprano, the fictional TV mafia boss.

Imagine a toddler, complete with temper tantrums, inside a Baloo the Bear costume, but possessed of vast wealth and limitless power, and you get some idea of the monstrosity.

I suppose the only upside for any young actress who felt she had to meekly follow Harvey into the en suite is that, so vast and pendulous is the mogul’s belly, she wouldn’t be able to see his Indiana Jones.

I met Weinstein several times when his company, Miramax (later the Weinstein Company), was making a film of I Don’t Know How She Does It, my first novel.

I thought of it as a unique insight into what life must have been like at the court of Henry VIII, except the Tudor monarch did not share Harvey’s Diet Coke habit.

At the mention of their master’s name, Weinstein’s retinue jumped to attention in a manner that suggested dread rather than devotion.

“But I’m in my pyjamas, I’ve just done kids’ bedtime, it’s a school night and I’m about to go to sleep.”

“Enough with the excuses, serf. Harvey has commanded it and thou shalt obey!”

I was one of the little people and, therefore, by definition, could not be inconvenienced by a studio head to whom I owed undying gratitude and, almost certainly, a soapy back-rub.

I worked closely with two female producers in the Weinstein organisation and, whenever Harvey’s name came up, nothing would be said explicitly, but eyes would roll.

They talked about their boss as you would about a badly trained and incontinent dog. If you hadn’t been savaged by him, it was a good day.

I will never forget visiting the set of I Don’t Know How She Does It back in 2010. My PA, Catherine, a lovely young brunette, was with me and Harvey locked on to her like an Exocet missile.

“Who’s she, who’s that one?” he demanded, pointing like a child in a sweet shop. It took a split second for me to glimpse the predator in him.

Just look at that chilling picture of Harvey with Ashley Judd at a premiere only a few months after he propositioned the actress in his hotel room.

The Beast isn’t so much holding Beauty’s hand as clutching it to stop her running away.

“Not everybody knew,” Meryl Streep said after allegations of Weinstein paying off and silencing women who accused him of sexual harassment appeared in The New York Times.

Harvey, she insisted, had always been respectful towards her, although actresses such as Judd and Rose McGowan who had spoken out against him, were “heroes”.

One of the more disturbing allegations of the past few days is that, when a reporter was working on an expose about “Slimy Weiny”, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe called her directly to get her to drop the piece.

Damon’s publicist will be in full damage-limitation mode after a furious McGowan tweeted: “Hey @Mattdamon what’s it like to be a spineless profiteer who stays silent?”

Listen. Can you hear that moan and creak of ancient timbers? It’s the sound of tables turning.

Hollywood, which has been far too timid about calling out abuse of power, is now even more afraid of falling foul of sexual politics.

Weinstein was ridiculed when he said that he grew up in a time when “all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different”.

In a searing letter to executives at the Weinstein company, concerning a distraught young assistant who gave Harvey a massage when he was naked, Lauren O’Connor wrote: “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world-famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”

Well, not any more.

He will be remembered as an ugly man who made some beautiful films.

But, lest we forget, his behaviour and what he was allowed to get away with for so many years, is a microcosm of what women in workplaces everywhere have to put up with.

Weinstein on ‘indefinite leave’ during sexual harassment inquiry

October 7, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) — Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is on indefinite leave from the company he co-founded while an internal investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations against him is completed, The Weinstein Co.’s board of directors announced Friday.

“We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Company, commencing today,” the board said in a statement. “As Harvey has said, it is important for him to get the professional help for the problems he has acknowledged. Next steps will depend on Harvey’s therapeutic process, the outcome of the board’s independent investigation and Harvey’s own personal decisions.”

The announcement came a day after The New York Times reported that the co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. has over the years reached at least eight legal settlements with women over alleged harassment.

Attorney John Kiernan of the firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP was named the head of the investigation. The Weinstein Co. board did not give a time frame for when the investigation would be completed.

“We believe it is important to learn the full truth regarding the article’s very serious accusations, in the interests of the Company, its shareholders and its employees,” the company said. The statement was signed by four board members: co-chairman Bob Weinstein, who is Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov and Richard Koenigsberg.

The statement was not signed by several businessmen who were part of The Weinstein Co. board before the story broke. They did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

Board member Dirk Ziff, a billionaire investor, resigned Thursday.

Representatives did not immediately respond to questions about Weinstein’s status with the film company. A person familiar with the board’s deliberations but unauthorized to speak publicly told The Associated Press earlier Friday that Weinstein would be suspended from the company. But Friday’s statement only said it “strongly endorsed” Weinstein’s decision to take the indefinite leave of absence.

Weinstein’s attorneys also did not respond to emails seeking comment Friday.

Weinstein has had a powerful perch in Hollywood for three decades, producing films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love,” for which he won an Oscar. But his stature has diminished in recent years and his company has suffered from a string of executive exits, layoffs mounting lawsuits and delayed releases.

The New York Times expose chronicled allegations against Weinstein from actress Ashley Judd and former employees at both the Weinstein Co. and Weinstein’s former company, Miramax, over the course of several decades. The report made an enormous impact felt throughout the movie industry and elsewhere.

“This abuse of power must be called out, however powerful the abuser, and we must publicly stand with those brave enough to come forward,” wrote actress America Ferrera on Twitter. Many others, including Lena Dunham and Brie Larson also added their voices to the uproar.

The board of directors has pressured Weinstein to step down from the company he helped create, said a person familiar with the board’s deliberations who was not authorized to speak publicly. Weinstein has resisted, hoping to weather the storm. Discussions between Weinstein and the board have been heated and contentious, the person said.

Leadership of The Weinstein Co. will be assumed by Bob Weinstein and David Glasser, the company’s chief operating officer.

Weinstein on Thursday issued a lengthy statement that acknowledged causing “a lot of pain.” He also asked for “a second chance.” But Weinstein and his lawyers, including Charles J. Harder, have criticized the New York Times’ report in statements and interviews, though neither has referenced anything specific.

“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting,” said a New York Times spokesperson in a statement. “Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full.”

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Weinstein attorney Lisa Bloom both defended Weinstein and acknowledged he’d been “stupid.” She saluted the women who have come forward to allege wrongdoing but said many allegations were overblown and consisted of Weinstein telling a woman she “looked cute without my glasses.”

Congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, on Friday began giving charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from the disgraced Hollywood titan.

Weinstein and his family have given more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle, nearly all of it to Democratic lawmakers, candidates and their allies, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The biggest beneficiary of funds from Weinstein and his family was the Democratic National Committee, which received about $800,000 in several of its accounts, according to the center. Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said the party plans to give more than $30,000 to Emily’s List, Emerge America and Higher Heights.

Rutgers University says it will not return a $100,000 donation from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein for a position named after women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem.

The university said Friday that Weinstein’s donation was one of more than 425 that has been used to Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at the school.

The school says it can think of “no better use” of the donation than to apply it to the position and its work.


Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington and Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report.

The former news reporter said she remained silent due to Weinstein's tremendous clout in the media industry (Weinstein is pictured here on October 6, 2017)

The former news reporter said she remained silent due to Weinstein’s tremendous clout in the media industry (Weinstein is pictured here on October 6, 2017)

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Update: The Weinstein Company’s board is planning to investigate sexual harassment complaints against Harvey Weinstein as he takes a leave of absence. Find more coverage here.

Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.

“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking.

In 2014, Mr. Weinstein invited Emily Nestor, who had worked just one day as a temporary employee, to the same hotel and made another offer: If she accepted his sexual advances, he would boost her career, according to accounts she provided to colleagues who sent them to Weinstein Company executives. The following year, once again at the Peninsula, a female assistant said Mr. Weinstein badgered her into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her “crying and very distraught,” wrote a colleague, Lauren O’Connor, in a searing memo asserting sexual harassment and other misconduct by their boss.

“There is a toxic environment for women at this company,” Ms. O’Connor said in the letter, addressed to several executives at the company run by Mr. Weinstein.

Read the rest:

Senator Mitch McConnell Target of Liberal Attack; Senator Demands a Criminal Investigation

April 9, 2013

Liberal news website Mother Jones on Tuesday morning published audio from a private February discussion between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides about the Kentucky Republican’s 2014 re-election campaign and potential Democratic challenger Ashley Judd.

The audio and transcripts—billed as a “secret tape” by Washington Bureau chief David Corn—show the McConnell camp discussing how to use the actress’ religious beliefs and history of depression against her in a potential campaign.

Judd announced March 27 that she would not be a candidate for the Senate, citing family obligations.

By | The Ticket

But how did the website get its hands on the audio?

McConnell’s team believes the tape was obtained illegally and has asked the FBI to investigate.

“Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”

Benton added, “We’ve always said the Left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond.”

Mother Jones didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo News’ requests for comment. During the discussion of Judd’s mental health on the tape, one individual said, “She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.

The group also poked fun at a reference Judd made about St. Francis, a revered Catholic saint, and other religious statements.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mother Jones also famously revealed secretly recorded comments made by Republican hopeful Mitt Romney where he said 47 percent of Americans were dependent on government and refused to take “personal responsibility” for their lives. Romney later apologized.

Ashley Judd (JB Lacroix/Getty Images)

Ashley Judd says she won’t run for Senate in Kentucky

March 27, 2013


Ashley Judd (JB Lacroix/Getty Images)

By | The Ticket

Ashley Judd, a Democrat who was mulling a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky U.S. Senate seat in 2014, won’t run after all, the actress announced Wednesday.

“After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities and energy at this time need to be focused on my family,” Judd said in an announcement on her Twitter page. “Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate. I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won’t be me at this time, I will continue to work as as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people and their needs, dreams, and great potential.”

Had she decided to run, Judd’s campaign would have faced an uphill battle against the Kentucky Republican. For starters, Judd’s family lives in Tennessee, not Kentucky, and Republicans had already begun to attack her for it. (Judd was a Tennessee delegate at the Democratic National Convention last year.) Her public history of liberal activism and repeated controversial statements—she said, for example, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell“—also may have made it difficult for her to connect with Kentucky voters.

With Judd out, Kentucky Democrats are still searching for a candidate to run against McConnell.

Ashley Judd Gives Some Democrats in Kentucky Pause in Senate Drive; Governor Says “She doesn’t fit the damn state.”

March 17, 2013

Hollywood actress-turned-Senate-hopeful Ashley Judd may have a harder time winning the hearts and minds of Democrats to support her campaign against Sen. Mitch McConnell after all.

Democratic Party leaders are stepping back and taking a clear look at the candidate, and some say she may not be best to run against the five-term Kentucky senator in 2014, Newsmax reports.

“She’s going to have a tough road to hoe,” said Jim Cauley, campaign manager for Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear in 2007, in a report. “She doesn’t fit the damn state,” which is a conservative stronghold. Fully 60 percent of Kentuckians voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Democrats have begun expressing concern about some of Ms. Judd’s statements and views. reports, “Democrats worry that Judd, a political neophyte, could cost the party a winnable race.”

And the National Journal reports, “the honeymoon is over for Ashley Judd.” The actress had traveled to Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago to meet with top Democratic Party officials, including those with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats.

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Ashley Judd dons a purple-licious sari at the YouthAIDS Benefit Gala at the Ritz Carlton in Mclean, Virginia. The 39-year-old actress is a “global ambassador” for YouthAIDS, a worldwide HIV/AIDS education and prevention effort. Ashley recently told press, “There is an extraordinary, compelling, urgent problem.”

Source: Ashley Judd moving forward with run for Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat in Kentucky

March 8, 2013

Ashley Judd dons a purple-licious sari at the YouthAIDS Benefit Gala at the Ritz Carlton in Mclean, Virginia.  The 39-year-old actress is a “global ambassador” for YouthAIDS, a worldwide HIV/AIDS education and prevention effort. Ashley recently told press, “There is an extraordinary, compelling, urgent problem.”



Ashley Judd has yet to officially announce her political aspirations, but a source with intimate knowledge of the situation tells FOX411’s Pop Tarts column the actress is preparing herself to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky seat in 2014.

“At least in Ashley’s mind, it is happening,” said the insider. “She has devoted herself to many important causes and stepped away from the Hollywood spotlight so this seems like the logical next step. I don’t know if she will be successful, but her heart is in the right place.”

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Judd, 44, has reportedly been meeting with well-financed Democratic donors, and last week ventured to Washington D.C for more public engagements.According to Don Peebles, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation, a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a Judd run is likely much more than a Hollywood fantasy.

“There looks to be a lot of noise around her running and she’s been active in commenting on politics of the day so it is certainly possible,” he said. “Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s approval ratings are low, and a lot of reports show that he is vulnerable to a challenge. While Kentucky leans right, it is not as conservative as most of its neighbors and the voters of Kentucky may be looking to send a message that they don’t feel fairly represented by Minority Leader McConnell.”

So is Judd’s move from Hollywood star to thoughtful humanitarian impressive enough for Kentuckians to take her seriously?

“Sadly, Hollywood celebrities often confuse the characters they play with their own selves and mistakenly assume they know something. They usually don’t. If she runs, it should be both a plus and a minus to Democrats,” surmised Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Institute. “She has name recognition and that’s always good. She is well known and will get lots of money, and that could make it close. Or maybe the people of the state will laugh at her and it will be a huge embarrassment to the left. We can always hope sanity will prevail.”

Yet others see Judd as an asset to the Democratic Party with the chops to offer up a fair fight.

“Ashley would add enormously to issues confronting Americans, especially women. She grew up in a home headed by a single mother and through hard work and sacrifice, she pulled herself up, graduated from college and went on to have a successful career,” said D.C-based attorney and political advisor, Margaret Cone. “As a favorite daughter from the state of Kentucky and with her ability to fund raise, she could give Senator McConnell a real run for the seat.”

Litigation and crisis communication expert Gene Grabowski of Levick Strategic Communications was left with a positive impression after watching Judd speak before an audience of George Washington University Public Health students last Friday, but noted there is much more to a successful Senate run than giving a good speech.

“She is poised, confident and knows how to tell moving stories about her experiences working with orphans and diseased children in Africa. She will be a very attractive candidate in a primary election and will have no problem raising money,” he anticipated. “Ms. Judd is coy about the issue of whether she will run, but she is obviously infatuated with the idea and probably will pursue the idea. In the short run, she will be a plus for Democrats. In the longer run however, she will be extremely vulnerable in a general election facing a veteran Republican who knows the issues inside and out.”

There is also some debate as to whether Judd’s status as a screen siren, one who has repeatedly flashed her flesh and romped around in the bedroom for art’s sake, will haunt her. In 1996’s “Norma Jean and Marilyn,” and 1999’s “Eye of the Beholder,” Judd went full-frontal and bared her backside, she went topless and bottomless in 1999’s “Double Jeopardy” exposed her breasts in 1996’s “Normal Life” and performed a lesbian sex scene in 2002’s “Frida.”

“Of course every movie and TV appearance she has ever made will be analyzed for clips to use against her. A conservative state won’t like a senator who has gone naked in front of millions of people,” Gainor observed. “America has a celebrity culture. We pay too much attention to them, from Honey Boo Boo to Dennis Rodman. We also tend to forgive their idiocy, and that’s Judd’s only real hope of getting elected.”

However, Peebles pointed out that Judd’s raunchy movies have all been seen so there is “no shock factor like there is with revealing a secret or scandal.”

“Character attacks are entrenched as part of the political process these days so I don’t think it will be unexpected. Presumably she would be ready for any attack on this matter,” he said. “And from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Jesse Ventura to Al Franken, folks that enter public service with a celebrity status have had success. Many people feel connected to these folks because they’ve followed their careers or appreciate their talents and it never hurts to be a known quantity before entering a race.”

Grabowski cautioned that if Judd does throw her hat in the Senate ring, she’ll find it much more challenging than memorizing a movie script.

“She will have a steep learning curve. One major stumbling block for Ms. Judd will be selecting the right people to guide her through the political and communications process. Right now, her handlers are relatively inexperienced publicists and friends,” he added. “She, and the Democratic Party, will have to ensure that she has far more experienced and capable advisors as soon as possible because she is being observed carefully right now to see if she has the right stuff to run for office.”

A rep for Judd did not respond to a request for comment.

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Protective husband: Senator Mitch McConnell, right, defended his wife, Elaine Chao, left, following a racially charged attack by a liberal super PAC.
Protective husband: Senator Mitch McConnell, right, defended his wife, Elaine Chao, left, following a racially charged attack by a liberal super PAC

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Senator Mitch McConnell defends his Taiwanese born wife over ‘racist’ Twitter attack

March 3, 2013

By Snejana Farberov
Daily Mail and AFP

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell struck hit back at a Democratic Kentucky super PAC that criticized his wife’s Asian heritage, calling the group’s Twitter messages ‘racial slurs’ and “the ultimate outrage.’

Addressing some 100 home-state supporters at a Republican dinner in Winchester Saturday, McConnell said the group Progress Kentucky ‘will not get away’ with attacking his wife on the issue of her ethnicity.

The controversial tweet posted February 14 said McConnell’s marriage to Elaine Chao, the former Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush, ‘may explain why your job moved to (hash)China!’

Protective husband: Senator Mitch McConnell, right, defended his wife, Elaine Chao, left, following a racially charged attack by a liberal super PAC.
Protective husband: Senator Mitch McConnell, right, defended his wife, Elaine Chao, left, following a racially charged attack by a liberal super PAC
Harsh words: The group Progress Kentucky fired off a tweet February 14 accusing Elaine Chao of pushing McConnell to outsource American jobs to China .
Harsh words: The group Progress Kentucky fired off a tweet February 14 accusing Elaine Chao of pushing McConnell to outsource American jobs to China

The tweet linked to the website of conspiracy theorist and radio host Jeff Rense, who has accused Chao of discriminating against American workers during her White House tenure, the Huffington Post reported.

McConnell described the tweet as ‘a racial attack’ against Chao, who was born in Taiwan and emigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was eight years old.

‘Elaine Chao is just as much an American as any of the rest of them,’ McConnell said. ‘In fact, she had to go through a lot more to become an American.’

Progress Kentucky removed the tweet after Louisville public radio station WFPL-FM aired a story setting off a firestorm online.


Actress and liberal activist Ashley Judd, who is considering a run for McConnell’s seat next year, came to Chao’s defense, firing off a tweet that read: ‘Whatever the intention, whatever the venue, whomever the person, attacks or comments on anyone’s ethnicity are wrong & patently unacceptable.’

McConnell’s colleague from across the aisle, Michigan Senator Carl Levine, also took to the social media site to denounce the verbal attack, writing: ‘Shame on KY group for repugnant attack on Sen. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao. No place for that in America.’

Backlash: Actress Ashley Judd, who may be running to unseat McConnell in 2014, came to Chao's defense, denouncing the liberal group .
Backlash: Actress Ashley Judd, who may be running to unseat McConnell in 2014, came to Chao’s defense, denouncing the liberal group

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon said the comments were ‘deplorable’ and ‘have absolutely no place’ in Kentucky politics.

In response to the public outrage, the beleaguered group issued two apologies over the past week for what they described as ‘inappropriate tweets sent by our organization.’

In a statement published on its site on February 26, Progress Kentucky executive director Shawn Reilly wrote that in an effort to educate voters about Senator McConnell’s ties to government interests in China, the group shared information online that included ‘an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity of former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao.’

‘We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question,’ the letter stated.

The super PAC promised that going forward, all of its tweets will be reviewed and approved prior to posting.

Power couple: Chao, left, emigrated with her family from Taiwan when she was eight years old, and she married McConnell, left in 1993 .
Power couple: Chao, left, emigrated with her family from Taiwan when she was eight years old, and she married McConnell, left, in 1993
U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
U.S. President George W. Bush walks from the Oval Office with Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao

Trailblazer: Chao served as a labor secretary under President George W. Bush, becoming the first Asian American woman to occupy a position in the a White House cabinet

Initially, Progress Kentucky spokesman Curtis Morrison denied that any of the group’s tweets had mentioned Chao specifically. Later, however, he told WFPL that a volunteer had sent out the messages targeting the former secretary.

Jesse Benton, a spokesman for McConnell’s re-election campaign, responded to the controversy by calling Elaine Chao and her family ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘shining examples of the American Dream’ who came to the United States with little and built successful businesses.

McConnell and his wife have faced similar slights in the past. In 2001, former state Democratic Party chairwoman Nikki Patton apologized for saying that McConnell ‘passed up some good Kentucky pork to chow down at the Chinese money buffet.’

Over the years, the senator’s opponents have raised questions about his ties to his father-in-law, New York shipping magnate James Chao, whose company has been trading with China.

Stalwart: Chao, seen posing for a souvenir picture with her nephews Ben (L) and Tyler, was the only member of Bush's cabinet to have lasted his entire eight-year administration.
Stalwart: Chao, seen posing for a souvenir picture with her nephews Ben (L) and Tyler, was the only member of Bush’s cabinet to have lasted his entire eight-year administration
New phase: Chao serves as a distinguished fellow at the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation. During the presidential campaign, she was a representative to Asian Americans for Mitt Romney .
New phase: Chao serves as a distinguished fellow at the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation. During the presidential campaign, she was a representative to Asian Americans for Mitt Romney

Chao became the first Asian-American woman to be appointed to a cabinet-level White House position. McConnell and Chao married in 1993.

Chao currently serves as a distinguished fellow at the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation. During the 2012 presidential election, she acted as a representative to Asian American voters for Mitt Romney. AFP reported.

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India’s Hidden Plague: Lust for Young Girls Explodes HIV, AIDS

February 25, 2013


Ashley Judd dons a purple-licious sari at a YouthAIDS Benefit Gala and Fundraier

In INDIA’S HIDDEN PLAGUE, Hollywood superstar Ashley Judd is on a mission. Far from her glamorous life in Hollywood, she is on a journey to Mumbai, India in her role as Global Ambassador for Youth AIDS and Population Services International (PSI) Board Member.

Mumbai is a city of shocking contrasts, where extreme poverty sits next to huge wealth, the poor next to millionaires. It’s a place where HIV is rife.

Ashley’s mission becomes a rollercoaster of emotions as she meets the people for whom AIDS is a frightening reality. As they tell their stories candidly and openly, Ashley hopes to take their voices and experiences back to a world that might take notice. She meets people such as Kausar, a gritty single mother of two, now helping others that have been affected; Geeta, who was kidnapped and sold into the sex trade and many others. All of them are trying to cope everyday with this deadly virus. Through this emotionally overwhelming story, Ashley tries to come to terms with the fragile way of life and the dire consequences resulting from the instability that the forgotten people of India face daily.

Lead by her heart and guided by the voices of those she meets along the way, Ashley takes her experiences to influential thinkers and policy makers to raise awareness and funds for PSI’s HIV programs throughout India. In her mission, Ashley recruits the help of fellow Bollywood stars like Shahrukh Khan, Sushmita Sen and Akshay Kumar, all of whom want to play their part in this war against AIDS.

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