Did Walt Disney Company Know About Harvey Weinstein?

The company could have terminated their relationship with Weinstein’s Mirimax in 2005 due to their knowledge of his sexual terrorism. 

By Leland Freeman

The dam continues to burst from information regarding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women, going back decades, and, the allegations that Matt Damon helped kill a story that would have been published in the New York Times in 2003, which could have prevented fourteen years of further abuse by Weinstein.

This really makes you wonder how much The Walt Disney Company knew about Harvey Weinstein committing sexual assaults while on the Disney payroll. Harvey and his brother, Bob Weinstein, were on the Disney payroll starting on June 30, 1993 when Disney purchased Miramax, a film and television production company founded by the Weinstein brothers, who remained the subsidiary heads until September 30, 2005.

Officially, they left over a dispute with then Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, over the distribution of the Michael Moore documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11”, which was critical of George W Bush’s administration’s handling of the “War on Terror” and starting a second war with Iraq. During this period of time, the Walt Disney Company was running into financial trouble and at the same time dealing with another high profile exit, that being Pixar, due to a publicized dispute between Eisner, and then Pixar, CEO Steve Jobs, the same Steve Jobs, who, at the time was also the CEO of Apple.

Did Steve Jobs really want Pixar out of a business relationship with Disney because of a dispute with Eisner over distribution fees, or because of Disney’s knowledge of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults? Was it that Jobs did not want Pixar to go down with the Walt Disney Company when news of Weinstein’s sexual terrorism finally broke?  Could it be that The Walt Disney Company used “Fahrenheit 9/11” as the perfect excuse to rid themselves of the Weinsteins? Think about it clearly, Michael Eisner and the Walt Disney Company Board of Directors must have known, especially with Roy Disney taking pot shots at Eisner on a regular basis in 2004.

Just think about how damaging it would be to the Walt Disney Company’s family friendly image that company leadership, in fact, knew of Harvey Weinstein’s despicable treatment towards women and did not immediately terminate his relationship with the company and alert the authorities. Even removing him, just the knowledge of his behavior would have been detrimental to the company for knowingly employing sexual predators in positions of leadership. News of this would have surely damaged or even destroyed Disney’s family friendly image and reputation.

Enter Michael Moore and his documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11”.  Moore created this documentary as an official response to what occurred during the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, and he intentionally wanted it released in 2004. Miramax funded the documentary, with Moore’s relationship with the Weinsteins going back to 1997. Disney quickly realized that Moore’s 2004 documentary was so polarizing that it could, and would, be used as an excuse to separate themselves from the Weinsteins. Eisner would publicly state that the Weinsteins, specifically Harvey Weinstein, produced the movie without Disney’s authorization and hid the expenses in the production reports. That made the dispute as much financial as it was political.

“Farenheit 9/11” was eventually distributed in the United States by Lions Gate, and was ultimately used as the primary reason from the Weinsteins for “leaving” the Walt Disney Company with pretty much everything except the Miramax trademark and film library. The Weinsteins, on their way out, were allowed to back load the books, delay expenses being reported on Miramax until after they left which basically sanctioned accounting fraud.

This was allowed to happen while The Walt Disney Company was hemorrhaging cash from high profile flops such as remakes of The Alamo, Around the World in 80 Days, and a reduction in revenue for their trademark animated features, which led to the shut down of their cell animation department. Michael Eisner ultimately fell on his sword, but was offered a golden parachute on departure. Eisner was replaced by Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO, Pixar was shortly aftwards was bought up by Disney, which led to Steve Jobs being granted a seat at Disney’s Board of Directors.

The other items that Disney let go with the Weinsteins was Miramax subsidiary, Dimension Films, along with the talent associated with Dimension which included Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. In 2004 many questioned why Disney would let them go with the Weinsteins to their new production company, The Weinstein Company, without any resistance. Looking back now from 2018, Disney evidently wanted nothing to do with them because Tarantino openly admits to knowing about the accusations against Harvey Weinstein since the mid 1990s. Even though Tarrantino disregarded Uma Therman’s accusation of being sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, it appears that Tarantino made Thurman perform her own stunts, leading to her serious injury, as retribution for speaking up against Weinstein.

Moreover, audio has resurfaced recently with Tarratino being interviewed on the Howard Stern Show in 2003, defending Roman Polanski regarding his legal case of performing statutory rape in 1977, claiming that Polanski’s victim was a “party girl” who wanted what happened to her.

As for Robert Rodriguez, he had to have known more about Harvey Weinstein than he’s letting on, not only because of his close working relationship with Quentin Tarantino, but also because Robert Rodriguez dated Rose McGowan, who is one of Harvey Weinstein’s most outspoken victims. Rose McGowan is the reason that Robert Rodriguez’s marriage to Elizabeth Avellan ended.

A persistent rumor in the Austin, Texas film scene, is that when Avellan found out that Rodriguez cheated on her and that Avellan took a semi-automatic rifle to Rodriguez’s editing suite. Rodriguez, when finding out his soon to be ex-wife turned his editing suite into Swiss Cheese, apparently punched a light tower on the set of “Grindhouse” causing a gaffer to fall off and get severely injured, shutting down production for weeks. It should also be noted that Elizabeth Avellan ran the business operations of Robert Rodreguz’s production company, Troublemaker Studios. In a Vanity Affair article dated Jan 3, 2018, McGowan claimed that Rodriguez used the knowledge that Harvey Weinstein raped her at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival as a tool for mind games with the constant threat of being blackballed from the entire industry.

Robert Rodriguez sidestepped the issue claiming he cast McGowan in Grindhouse to spite Weinstein, but really was he going to bite the hand that fed him? Rodriguez owes much of his career in entertainment to the Weinsteins and consistently sidesteps pressing questions such as when investors of his movie “Machete Kills” sued the State of Texas for withholding subsidies for the production.

Rodriguez claimed “This law suit has been filed by a financier of ‘Machete Kills’ who put up a portion of the financing for that film, however I am in no way affiliated with this company, nor do they represent my interests in any way.”

Rodriguez had his production company highly vertically integrated, allowed the 2009 film subsidy bill to be signed at Troublemaker Studios, and stated in a speech he could not make the movie that became Machete Kills without the subsidy.

It’s interesting that more publications aren’t calling out Robert Rodriguez directly.

Example: a Business Insider story from Nov 7, 2017, on Harvey Weinstein employing private investigative journalists to dig up dirt on McGowan had only this to say about Robert Rodreguez.

“Howard reportedly discussed a phone call one of his reporters conducted with Elizabeth Avellan, the former wife of a director who reportedly had a relationship with McGowan.”

One wonders…  if Rodriguez playing host to a fundraiser for President Obama at his residence Pemberton Castle in Austin,Texas in 2014, or the fact that he sits on the Advisory Board for the taxpayer subsidized Austin Film Society 501(c)(3) has anything to keeping this information from being widely reported?

It also makes you wonder if any of the information of Hollywood’s rape culture would have been widely reported if the outcome of the 2016 elections were different. It makes you wonder how many enablers Harvey Weinstein actually had, starting with his brother Bob, who had this to say about Michael Moore in a Deadline Hollywood article from November of  2017.

Michael Moore and I always have and still enjoy a good personal and business relationship. With regards to commenting on his future film, I think he would be the best person to speak with.” Moore wasn’t commenting.  

So far, six sexual assault indictments have been filed against Harvey Weinstein in the State of New York. Sadly, evidence suggests that he had many more victims, in many more jurisdictions, including Sundance, Utah, and Los Angeles, California. Weinstein’s own defense claimed that his behavior was not unique to the entertainment industry.

It makes you wonder if the foundation of being blackballed for repeating entertainment industry inside information to outsiders is the basis behind keeping rape victims quiet.


Leland Freeman is a conservative filmmaker and radio host based in Austin, Texas.