The Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating the origin of the money used in payments to settle Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct cases out of court, according to the New York Post.
The outlet reports that DA Cyrus Vance Jr. has launched a “wide-ranging and aggressive” probe into the source of the settlement money that Weinstein and his legal team used to settle sex misconduct cases — details of eight financial settlements with women, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, dating back to the early 1990s, were first reported in October in a bombshell New York Times report.
The investigation is reportedly part of a potentially broader embezzlement case involving the disgraced movie producer and his former film firms, Miramax and The Weinstein Company which he co-founded in 2005 with his brother Bob Weinstein.
In a related development, TMZ reports that “more than 20 grand jury subpoenas have been issued to people at The Weinstein Co. and several employees have already been interviewed for the financial investigation … as well as the alleged rape cases.”
Weinstein’s defense lawyer Ben Brafman maintains that the settlements paid on his client’s behalf met the proper legal standard.
“Any financial settlements by Mr. Weinstein were fully vetted and approved by legal counsel for Mr. Weinstein and The Weinstein Company,” Brafman said. “There was never any intent by Mr Weinstein to violate the law and as a result, we do not believe that any criminal charges will be filed once all of the facts are carefully reviewed.”
An indictment against Weinstein was all-but imminent last month with reports that the New York Police Department had built a case against the Oscar-winner over claims he raped actress Paz de La Huerta twice in 2010 at her Manhattan apartment. The indictment from the Manhattan district attorney, of course, never came. Vance also reportedly declined to use 2015 NYPD sting audio of Weinstein making unwanted sexual advances at Ambra Battilana Gutierrez as evidence in a potential sexual assault case.
A grand jury, the Post reports, is expected to start reviewing evidence in the potential embezzlement case next year.
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.