[Harvey Weinstein with Lindsay Lohan, one of his few defenders]
You might have heard a very troubling story about Matt Damon and Russell Crowe in the aftermath of sexual harassment (and now rape) allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The story was written by Sharon Waxman at The Wrap, who was relating her experience trying to cover the Weinstein story more than a decade ago for The New York Times. She had tracked down the man who ran the Italian division of Weinstein's Miramax Films, a guy named Fabrizio Lombardo. She also had a source in London, a woman who'd been paid to keep quiet about "an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein."
The story she was writing never ran. It was quashed by the paper.
While telling this story, the following nugget was included:
After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.
I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.
This was the only mention made of Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, and for a time, I thought she'd buried the lead. But in context, her focus really was about The New York Times putting the brakes on the story, while being pressured by Harvey Weinstein. She wasn't necessarily accusing Damon and Crowe of being co-conspirators.
Let's look at what Matt Damon had to say when asked about it by Deadline Hollywood:
Harvey had called me and said, they’re writing a story about Fabrizio, who I knew from The Talented Mr. Ripley. He has organized our premiere in Italy and so I knew him in a professional capacity and I’d had dinner at his house. Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it’s really negative. Can you just call and tell her what your experience with Fabrizio was. So I did, and that’s what I said to her. ...
I’m sure I mentioned to her that I didn’t know anything about the rest of her piece, because I didn’t. And I still don’t know anything about that and Fabrizio. My experience with him was all above board and that’s what I told her.
So there's that. Matt Damon saying that he'd been asked to vouch for the head of Miramax Italy, and that he didn't really know what the whole story was about. Harvey Weinstein was covering for himself, while telling Matt Damon he was actually vouching for the guy in Italy.
Sharon Waxman agrees...
We haven't yet heard from Russell Crowe about all this, but it does seem possible that Harvey Weinstein also left out some key information when asking Crowe to call the reporter Sharon Waxman.
Matt Damon says he never would have stepped in if he'd really known what the story was about.
This is not to defend them, or anyone. I think there's still a lot more to the Harvey Weinstein story, and a lot of questions will be asked.
Mainly, who knew?
Is it even believable that Matt Damon didn't know? Is it believable that Russell Crowe didn't know? Angelina Jolie knew. Gwyneth Paltrow know. And Asia Argento certainly knew. In what appears to have been an open secret in Hollywood, you start wondering how it's possible anyone didn't know. But it does seem to be true that Matt Damon, at least, didn't know what he was calling Sharon Waxman about.
Still, Hollywood has a lot of soul searching to do....