Weinstein Scandal Roils TV Business, Too

The whirlwind of allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has forced the television business to scramble as well.

Some networks that air shows from the TV arm of The Weinstein Co., such as Netflix’s Peaky Blinders, have already removed the Weinstein name from the credits they run. Other projects will likely be cancelled. All are considering what steps to take.

NBC News was under scrutiny for not breaking the story after one of its former anchors had obtained tapes and interviews documenting Weinstein’s activities.

At the same time, Amazon Studios head Roy Price was put on a leave of absence after the producer of one of Amazon Prime’s best-known shows accused him of sexually harassing her. Albert Cheng, the Amazon Studios chief operating officer, was named interim chief.

Isa Hackett, executive producer of Man in the High Castle, which is based on the book by her father, Philip K. Dick, said Amazon Studios chief Price asked her to attend an Amazon staff party and repeatedly and insistently propositioned her, according to an interview in The Hollywood Reporter.

The New York Times and The New Yorker broke the story of how Weinstein sexually harassed actresses and other women, threatening to hurt their careers if they didn’t agree to his advances.

The New Yorker’s story was reported by Ronan Farrow, who had been an MSNBC anchor and continued to work as a freelancer at the network.

“We didn’t feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air it,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim said during an internal Town Hall style meeting at NBC Wednesday. “We supported him and gave him resources to report that story over many, many months … The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us.”

But when Farrow appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, he said, “I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier,” he said. “And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that, and it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”

Reports continue to surface about whether NBC News told Farrow to drop the story and about the pressure that may have been applied to NBC by Weinstein’s powerful Hollywood allies.

Last year, NBC was scooped by The Washington Post on the story about Access Hollywood’s tape of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about groping women, even though NBC owns Access Hollywood and was aware of the footage.

In addition to award-winning movies, Weinstein’s studio, The Weinstein Co., produces TV shows on a number of networks and streaming services.

The Weinstein Co. is looking to take the mogul’s name off its door and has hired two ad agencies to create a new identity for the studio, the Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that talent agencies would no longer do business with the company and that it might be put up for sale.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.