Filmmaker Kevin Smith says Harvey Weinstein tried to “circle the wagons” for his support just days before the now-disgraced movie mogul was exposed for alleged sexual misconduct two years ago.
In an interview with Business Insider, Smith says that Weinstein called him out of the blue in the fall of 2017 to talk about making his 1999 movie “Dogma” — starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon — available for streaming for the first time ever. Smith says Weinstein suggested that they “might even be able to do a sequel” to the movie about fallen angels crafting a return to heaven. (In 1999, then-Miramax co-presidents Weinstein and his brother Bob purchased the rights to the controversial film from Walt Disney Co. to protect Disney from backlash by Catholic groups.)
Before the call ended, Weinstein suggested he and Smith talk again — but a week later, on Oct. 5, 2017, the New York Times reported that he had allegedly paid off sexual harassment accusers for many years.
After the story broke, Smith said, “I felt sick to my stomach.”
He says it was clear that Weinstein was trying to jump-start damage control.
“It was him looking to see who was a friend still because his life was about to shift completely,” Smith tells Business Insider.
“I felt it was someone using something you love to provoke a reaction,” says Smith. After the story broke, he reacted to the news on Twitter: “He financed the first 14 years of my career — and now I know while I was profiting, others were in terrible pain. It makes me feel ashamed.”
Smith had previously defended Weinstein in a 2004 Variety editorial after author Peter Biskind talked about alleged shady practices by the Weinstein brothers at Miramax in the 1990s. At the time, Smith stepped up “to defend a man I respect, love, and would like to take a bullet for: the last great movie mogul,” he wrote of the situation in his 2012 book, “Tough S–t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good.”
Smith adds that while he wishes he could release “Dogma” on streaming platforms for its 20th anniversary this year, he sees the potential for opening it up to screening in time for its 25th anniversary.
“You know, it sounds like he’s got legal bills,” Smith tells Business Insider of Weinstein’s pending court appearances next year. “That’s an asset you can sell to somebody.”
Author: Eric Hegedus