Organizers of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project’s annual Legacy Awards — the LGBTQ group’s gala fundraiser honoring entertainment industry figures who “made a profound and lasting impact on LGBT storytelling and the LGBT community” — have announced the Weinstein Company will no longer be honored at the Oct. 22 ceremony.
The company was scheduled to receive a Vanguard Award, but Weinstein officials decided to withdraw from the event, according to Outfest Executive Director Christopher Racster.
The decision was prompted by revelations by The New York Times of a long history of sexual abuse of women by Harvey Weinstein, the company’s co-founder.
Racster said he received message from the company stating, “Because we wholeheartedly support Outfest and its mission to preserve LGBTQ cinema, we have decided to withdraw from The Legacy Awards at this time. We do not want to overshadow the extraordinary achievements of the other honorees.”
Racster said that the “LGBTQ community faces so much discrimination and harassment on the daily basis,” and Outfest stands “for the dignity of each human being” and works to create a world “where everyone is treated fairly, respectfully and equally under the law.”
The Legacy Awards event will still go forward, honoring actress Rita Moreno and actress/activist Laverne Cox.
“Both of these women have fought and stood up for the basic human rights of all people to be treated fairly, especially within a culture in Hollywood that has at times discriminated against,” said an Outfest statement.
Weinstein has announced that he is taking a leave of absence from the production house he co-founded with his brother, and the company announced the hiring of a team of lawyers to conduct an investigation into the sexual harassment claims in t New York Times story.
According to the Times story, Weinstein has reached at least eight legal settlements with women over allegations of sexual harassment, with his accusers including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.
Weinstein, 65, issued a statement Thursday announcing his plans to take a leave of absence.
“I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed,” he said. “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”
The Weinstein Company board of directors issued a statement late Friday, saying the board members “strongly endorse” Weinstein’s leave of absence and take “extremely seriously the accusations” raised in the Times story.
“It is essential to our company’s culture that all women who work for it or have any dealings with it or any of our executives are treated with respect and have no experience of harassment or discrimination,” the board said, according to a copy of the statement released by The Hollywood Reporter.
The company announced the hiring of attorney John Kiernan, along with his partners Matthew Fishbein, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney; and Helen Cantwell, a former federal and state prosecutor. The attorneys will “undertake a thorough and independent investigation and report to the full board on the results of that investigation,” according to the company.
Weinstein’s brother, Bob, and COO David Glasser will lead the company during Harvey Weinstein’s absence.
“As Harvey has said, it is important for him to get professional help for the problems he has acknowledged,” according to the company. “Next steps will depend on Harvey’s therapeutic progress, the outcome of the board’s independent investigation and Harvey’s own personal decisions.”
Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob founded the Miramax film-production house in the late 1970s. The company produced hit films including “Pulp Fiction,” “The Thin Blue Line,” “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!,” “The Crying Game” and “Clerks.”
The brothers sold the company to Disney in 1993 but continued to run it until 2005, when they left to create The Weinstein Company. The studio’s credits include “The King’s Speech,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Butler” and “The Imitation Game.”