The University at Buffalo has begun the process to revoke the honorary degree it granted Harvey Weinstein, the longtime Hollywood producer who is now the subject of numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment from women.
UB's announcement came the same morning that Guy Marlette, a Conservative candidate for an Erie County Legislature seat that includes Amherst, called on UB to take this step in light of the disturbing allegations made against Weinstein recently. The Weinstein Co. board already has fired Weinstein.
UB can start the process to rescind the degree, but only the SUNY board of trustees can revoke Weinstein's degree.
Weinstein attended UB in the 1970s but dropped out to pursue a career in entertainment. With his brother Bob and Corky Burger, Weinstein independently produced rock concerts as Harvey & Corky Productions in Buffalo in the 1970s. Using profits from their concert business, the brothers created Miramax, a small independent film distribution company named after their parents, Miriam and Max.
UB presented Harvey Weinstein an honorary doctorate of humane letters on behalf of SUNY's board of trustees in 2000. In the announcement of the plan to honor Weinstein, then-UB President R. William Greiner said Weinstein "reshapes the face of the American film industry with each new offering from Miramax, and has shown the world that movies have the power to transform lives in unexpected ways long after their audiences depart from the theater."
Weinstein was fired by the Weinstein Co. on Sunday, after a New York Times investigation uncovered allegations that he had engaged in rampant sexual harassment.
The sexual harassment allegations uncovered by the Times stretched back decades and came from actresses as well as former employees of the Weinstein Co. and Miramax.
On Tuesday, a new report in New Yorker magazine accused him of raping three women he had worked with during his long tenure as one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures.
That report was followed by a second article in the New York Times that included accounts from actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie about Weinstein’s harassment of them early in their careers.
The stories Tuesday coincided with public condemnation of Weinstein from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Weinstein has been a longtime Democratic donor and was a supporter of former President Bill Clinton during his campaigns and of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Weinstein Co. also employed former President Barack Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia, as an intern this year.
“I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior.”
Weinstein, 65, is one of the most successful producers in movie history. Miramax, and later the Weinstein Co., produced such Oscar winners as “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” His company’s television work includes the reality show “Project Runway.”
By Tuesday afternoon, more than a dozen women had publicly accused Weinstein of a range of misconduct, including sexual harassment, assault and rape. Weinstein’s accusers said he threatened their careers if they rejected his advances.
The reports, which also included details from unnamed former and current Weinstein company executives, have sent shock waves through Hollywood. After the initial Times story, more women came forward with their own “casting-couch” tales. Numerous stars have condemned Weinstein, including Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and George Clooney.
Weinstein “unequivocally denied” any allegations of nonconsensual sex, spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said in a statement, which added that “there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.” Regarding on-the-record allegations, Weinstein “believes that all of these relationships were consensual,” Hofmeister said.
News wire services contributed to this report.