It was last October when the New York Times, and Ronan Farrow in New York Magazine, combined to break open the scandal of Harvey Weinstein rampaging through the entertainment complex. The studio head had long-running sex predations that involved a number of prominent performers and kicked off the #MeToo movement.
Actress Ashley Judd was one of those who dared to step forward and place her name onto accusations. She detailed how Weinstein had tried to insinuate himself onto her, and when she rebuffed his advances the producer worked to sabotage her career. Now she is going forward with a defamation lawsuit against Weinstein, aided by the fact that a prominent film director has recently mentioned being influenced by the corpulent producer about the actress.
Announcing her decision on Good Morning America, Judd stated that “I lost career opportunity, I lost money, I lost status and prestige and power in my career as a direct result of having been sexually harassed.” The suit against Weinstein alleges sexual harassment, defamation, and a violation of California’s unfair competition law. She has been motivated to this filing because, while never having worked directly with Weinstein, her career was severely impacted. Director Peter Jackson recently gave her the very testimony regarding this action she needed.
Jackson gave an interview to the website Stuff, based in New Zealand, and he relayed events that played out involving Weinstein during the casting process of Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy of films (note: Weinstein’s Miramax initially had the film rights to the books, but due to money constraints the studio tried to truncate the project to one movie. Jackson resisted this, and he brought the project to New Line, which went with the three film deal.)
Jackson wanted to cast Ashley Judd in a role, as well as another of Weinstein’s victims, Mira Sorvino. However the director stated that he was then told that selecting either actress would be a mistake.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us — but in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women — and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list.”
More than just the director’s anecdote, Judd’s suit also states the actress had initially been contacted by the production, asking what roles she would be interested in playing. If this can be established it would lend more weight to the difficult-to-prove position of Judd. She was not a direct employee of Weinstein, nor Miramax, and was not fired from a position. Instead she is stipulating she was negatively impacted professionally in the industry.
This is the kind of legal action that may reinvigorate the #MeToo movement, as it has waned recently. Just this weekend accusations were lodged at Tom Brokaw, and when in months past this would have led to his expulsion from the industry (like Matt Lauer) Brokaw has been ardently defended. Maybe seeing Judd, who sparked the movement with her testimony, taking legal steps will take the movement to its next stage.