‘She Said’ Scoops Weinstein Sex Scandal

She Said is an intriquing title. On one hand, it’s the other side to the phrase “He Said, She Said,” which is often used to dismiss two sides of a story when you don’t want to examine that one side might be making better points. On the other hand, it’s part of the phrase “That’s what she said,” one of those jokes men throw up whenever someone says something that isn’t vulgar or ditry to make it sound vulgar and dirty.

She Said is about the investigative reporting by New York Times into allegations that Harvey Weinstein, a popular and successful media mogul, had been sexually assaulting and harassing women for decades while the entire film and TV industry looked the other way. I remember watching people in the K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly when I was working summer jobs looking the other way when some redneck went nuts and starting smacking around their kids for wanting a cereal or a toy. There was no cell phone video. Twenty years ago, a security camera caught a woman beating and punching her child in the parking lot and things slowly changed.

As of today, Jan. 9, Weinstein was scheduled to be sentenced in L.A. Superior Court after being found guilty last month on sexual assault charges. But that has been delayed. He’s also been convicted during a trial in Manhattan and was sentenced to 23 years in 2020. At 70, it’s a good bet that unless there is a good appellate case, Weinstein will remain in prison for the rest of his life. What’s odd is how long it was allowed to go on.

At one point, Weinstein and his brother, Bob, were distributing mostly independent and low-budget movies that would never be played outside of the arthouse cinemas and end up on the shelves of Blockbuster Video. But in the early 1990s, their studio Miramax began to gain some blockbusters and popularity as movies like The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction and Clerks won awards and acclaim and scored big at the box office.

By the end of the 1990s, the Weinsteins were two of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. But there were already rumors abound about Harvey’s behavior behind the scenes with young women. Up and coming actresses like Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Mira Sorvino suddenly found themselves persona non grata among a lot of other producers, directors and actors in Hollywood. Those big movies people expected to see them in were released with other actresses in key roles. Well, that happens. Negotiations don’t work out. There are scheduling conflicts.

But little did we know that Harvey was apparently telling the actress they had to do something to help him if they wanted the role. When She Said begins, Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), a reporter for the Times, has just published a story about the sexual assault and harassment allegations against Donald Trump during the last few months of the 2016 campaign cycle. There’s negative feedback as Megan finds herself criticized on Bill O’Reilly and getting hateful calls from men saying they are going to rape and kill her.

As 2017 begins, Megan is on maternity leave with her first child as fellow reporter Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) receives a tip that McGowan (the voice of Keilly McQuail) has been sexually assaulted by McGowan. The actress refuses to comment but calls back and describes an incident that she says happened when she was 23. Jodi also speaks with Judd (playing herself) and Gwyneth Paltrow (whose voice is heard over phone calls but she doesn’t appear on screen) who also say they were sexually assaulted by Harvey (Mike Houston).

When Megan returns from maternity leave, Jodi convinces her to work with her as she is lacking progress. They notice that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as L.A. area prosecutors didn’t do the best looking into the accusations against Harvey. Worse, they keep hitting dead-ends. Someone tells them to contact another person and that person says contact another person. Working in newspaper and media myself, I know this frustation as you make phone calls, being told no or some document isn’t available or someone just can’t or won’t comment.

Much of the movie consists of Megan and Jodi talking to people on phone or trying to meet with people in restaurants or diners. At other times, they are just having to show up on people’s doorsteps. But director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz are smart enough to know this is more than Megan and Jodi’s story. When they do get to interview some of the people who worked for Miramax is when the movie really puts faces to the names.

Zelda Perkins (Samanta Morton) speaks to Jodi about the awful way she was treated in her home England as she settled the case but she gives her some documents to use. They also find two other women, Laura Madden (Jennifer Ehle) and Rowena Chiu (Angela Yeoh) who have reported sexual assault by Harvey. Laura is hesitant at first but after being contacted by another former colleague, a woman, about all the positive things about Harvey, she rethinks. By making this movie their stories as well as the stories of Megan and Jodi, it helps show it wasn’t just big-name actresses.

And the movie moves with tension even if it’s just a phone call being made. During a conference call where Jodi, Megan, editor Rebecca Corbett (the always great Patricia Clarkson) and executive editor Dean Baquet (Andre Bagher) are on the phone with Harvey and his attorney, Lisa Bloom (Anatasia Barzee), the frustration is on display as Harvey threatens and stonewalls them. He keeps wanting to know if Paltrow is in the story. The way he keeps insisting to know as well as calling it a smear tactic shows that Harvey is used to getting what he wants but feels the noose tightening.

Paltrow was only in her mid-20s when she started out in movies like Emma and Shakespeare in Love which helped her career. Her boyfriend at the time, Brad Pitt, went after Harvey as he had heard the accusations. Pitt functions as a producer on She Said as through his production company Plan B. This has been criticized when Pitt is facing domestic violence accusations himself and he also appeared in Inglourious Basterds which was released through The Weinstein Company in 2009. Pitt said the only reason he made the movie was to work with Quentin Tarantino, but it still makes you wonder where the line is drawn.

Dean as the top boss seems to be brought in fom time to time to help and it’s used to show how some men are more intimidated by other men. But this movie isn’t anti-man. Megan’s husband, Jim Rutman (Tom Pelphrey), and Jodi’s husband, Ron Leiber (Adam Shapiro), are very supportive even though they’re mostly used in the background. But what’s the difference from the supportive wife on the phone trope in other movies?. There is a scene where Megan, Jodi and Rebecca are in a restaurant where a dudebro comes on to Megan where she tells him off, but this isn’t an anti-man movie. It shows how the use of “Boys will be boys” and toxic masculinity has allowed so many people to be assaulted while others looked the other way.

And who is going to step up and stop them? Working with Harvey meant Oscar nominations. Or they could be some bigger returns at the box office. Basterds was Tarantino’s highest grossing movie at the time with $321 million worldwide. And a good part of that was Pitt getting people into theaters.

Harvey did what many predators do, he went after the people he knew he could demean and who he could wash his hands of. I wonder to myself why Judd, who was a rising star 20-25 years ago, just went away almost overnight. Sorvino, who isn’t featured here, won an Oscar and was dating Tarantino at the time and was appearing in big movies. Suddenly, she’s not anymore. Harvey reportedly kept Sorvino and Judd out of The Lord of the Rings movies as he own the rights. Harvey was messing with these women’s livelihoods. That makes him more horrible of a person.

She Said only made $12 million off a $32 million budget which is a shame. It’s no different than Spotlight or All the President’s Men. But I think many men stayed away. But maybe some women stayed away too. When the accusations were flying years ago, people went after Judd and McGowan. Paltrow, herself, has been gossip fodder almost since she started out. Regardless of how someone behaves, they don’t need to be sexually assaulted. Has anyone ever wondered this trauma may have contributed to their behavior?

The movie’s failure at the box office says more about the double-standard and how we still got a long way to go in the MeToo movement. Spotlight had Batman and The Hulk in its cast. People might have thought this was just a “chick’s flick.” Despite his history of racial, sexist and misogynistic behavior, Mel Gibson appeared in seven movies in 2022. And yet, people still want to criticize Paltrow for her Goop business.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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