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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Craven: My Weinstein Moment

Women are speaking out and things are changing. Much of this shift can be traced to New York Times and New Yorker allegations that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein acted for decades as a serial sexual predator. More than sixty women have now spoken publicly about Weinstein’s transgressions against them, saying, “me, too.” But Weinstein’s aggressive behavior in the movie world extended beyond his sexual moves. He is known to have used threats and violence in other ways, too, as a means to get his way. I remember an instance after the release of my film, Where the Rivers Flow North, when we launched a grass-roots Academy Award campaign for our co-star, Native American actress, Tantoo Cardinal.

Tantoo received fabulous reviews and old-world Hollywood publicist, Dale Olson, offered to help us. Olson’s clients over the years had included Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, and Rock Hudson. And he managed Sally Kirkland’s long shot campaign that snagged her an Oscar. “I think we can do this,” said Olson.

He immediately set to work, using his contacts at the Golden Globes where he promised we’d get consideration. “They can be lobbied,” he said, surprising me.

Misadventures followed, including having to change our screening date for the seventy-five Golden Globe voters. Olson reported that, as part of their “lobbying” effort, Warner Brothers was flying Golden Globe voters to New York for a week at the Waldorf Astoria and a run of Broadway shows.

We didn’t get a Golden Globe, although a Globe official leaked a story to Olson - that they loved Tantoo’s performance and actually voted her one of the four nominations.

“What happened?” I asked.

“The Golden Globes were being televised that year on cable,” Olson said. “And the producer had to approve their choices. When he looked at Tantoo the producer shook his head. 'Who’s the Indian chick?' he reportedly said. 'She doesn’t have the sex appeal we need for TV.'"

Olson said that glamorous Italian star Sophia Loren was switched into Tantoo’s slot. He said he protested.

“But Sofia Loren’s got a three-minute walk-on in Robert Altman’s Pret-a-Porter” Olson reportedly said. “Whose idea was this?”

“Harvey Weinstein,” said the producer. “He produced Pret-a-Porter and he doesn’t like to take 'no' for an answer.”

It’s 23 years later and I’m happy to see that Harvey Weinstein is now helping our entire culture understand what it means to take “no” for an answer.

Jay Craven is a filmmaker who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and directs Kingdom County Productions
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