Matt Damon has become embroiled in the growing sexual harassment scandal surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
It’s claimed that he and Russell Crowe both helped in getting a previous story about Weinstein’s sexually inappropriate behaviour spiked.
Sharon Waxman, who founded the movie business website The Wrap, has said that she wrote a story about Weinstein’s conduct in 2004 when she worked at the New York Times, but that it was eventually ‘gutted’ of the sexual allegations, re-angled and then buried in the newspaper’s culture section.
The story revolved around an executive called Fabrizio Lombardo, who headed up the Italian outpost of Miramax – which had been bought by Disney in 1993 – between 2003 and 2004, and was paid $400,000 for less than a year’s employment for the company.
Waxman claims her sources told her that Lambardo had no experience whatsoever working in the movie business, but ‘his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs’, which is said to have included organising Russian escorts.
She adds that she spoke directly to one ‘terrified’ women in London who had been paid off after an encounter with Weinstein, and forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Waxman said that she was called on the phone in person by both Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, who vouched for Lombardo’s credentials.
In a stinging editorial, she added: “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.
“But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?
“Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?”
Waxman said that she tried to argue her case, but was asked why the story mattered considering Weinstein was not ‘a publicly elected official’.
“I explained, to no avail, that a public company would certainly have a problem with a procurer on the payroll for hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the time, Disney told me they had no idea Lombardo existed,” she added.
Neither Damon or Crowe has yet to comment on this specific matter, or the mounting allegations against the producer, but Damon’s relationship with Weinstein goes back to the late 90s.
Weinstein gave Damon and Ben Affleck their big break after Kevin Smith, who had directed Affleck in ‘Chasing Amy’, passed their script for ‘Good Will Hunting’ to Miramax, who then scooped it up and turned it into an Oscar-winning movie.
Smith has made his feelings known, however.
He financed the first 14 years of my career – and now I know while I was profiting, others were in terrible pain. It makes me feel ashamed. https://t.co/T0hInW7EqJ
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) October 9, 2017
Weinstein has been accused of numerous instances of sexual harassment dating back nearly three decades, following an exposé by the New York Times.
He has since been fired from The Weinstein Company.