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October 17, 2017

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Resignations, fallout grow for embattled producer Weinstein

LOS ANGELES — A prominent attorney said Saturday she is no longer representing movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as he confronts sexual harassment allegations dating back years, while a TV news anchor lodged another claim of misconduct against the movie mogul and a third board member resigned from Weinstein's company.

The developments, along with the departure of yet another lawyer for Weinstein, are the latest fallout from allegations against the Oscar-winning producer that The New York Times detailed in an expose Thursday.

"My understanding is that Mr. Weinstein and his board are moving toward an agreement," Bloom said in announcing her resignation on Twitter.

Attorney Lisa Bloom didn't respond to an email request for further comment. She previously has represented victims of sexual harassment and assault. Her work with the co-chair of The Weinstein Co. drew fierce criticism online.

Charles Harder, another attorney representing Weinstein, didn't immediately reply to a request for comment on the developments. A Weinstein Co. spokeswoman, Nicole Quenqua, declined to comment.

Lanny Davis, a lawyer who also was working with Weinstein, is no longer advising the producer, said a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Davis declined comment, his office said.

President Donald Trump, preparing to board a helicopter to travel from the White House to a North Carolina fundraiser on Saturday, was asked by reporters to weigh in on the embattled Hollywood figure. "I've known Harvey Weinstein a long time," Trump replied. When asked if he was surprised by the accusations, the president replied: "Not at all."

Trump brushed off a query about his 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape comments, in which he bragged about women letting him kiss them and grab their genitals because he is famous.

"That's locker room," he said, echoing his characterization of the remarks after the audio was revealed during last year's presidential campaign.

The allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein were detailed in a report this week by The New York Times. Weinstein is on indefinite leave from the company he co-founded while it conducts an investigation into the claims made by women including actors Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan and stretching back years.

TV anchor Lauren Sivan added to them, detailing an alleged 2007 encounter with Weinstein in a HuffPost report Friday. Sivan, then working at a New York cable channel, Long Island 12, alleged that Weinstein cornered her in the hallway of a Manhattan restaurant closed to the public and masturbated in front of her.

Sivan said she had rejected an attempt by Weinstein to kiss her. "Well, can you just stand there and shut up," she claims he responded.

Sivan, who is now a reporter and host for Fox broadcast TV's Los Angeles station, Fox 11, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But she reaffirmed the HuffPost report on Twitter.

"Yeah. This happened. luckily I didn't need a job or favor from him + didn't have to be polite. Others did. Keep that in mind," she tweeted, then followed up with a second post: "For those asking why I waited? YOU try telling that story 10 yrs ago. Only possible now because of women with bigger names far braver than me."

The scandal's fallout included the resignation of Weinstein Co. board member Marc Lasry, charirman and CEO of Avenue Capital Group, which was confirmed Saturday by a Lasry spokesman, Todd Fogarty. Lasry joined an exodus from the nine-member board, with billionaire Dirk Ziff and, according to reports, Technicolor executive Tim Sarnoff also leaving.

On another front, "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski tweeted that "unless Harvey resigns" she will withdraw from a three-book deal she struck last summer with Weinstein Books.

"Authors, actors, and moviemakers should not work for any Weinstein company until he resigns. Not a close call," she tweeted, along with this: "Harvey Weinstein needs to resign from his companies, face his sickness, and go into a long, self-imposed exile."

Weinstein has exerted power in Hollywood for three decades, producing films including "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love," for which he won an Oscar. But his stature has diminished in recent years and his company has suffered from a string of executive exits, layoffs mounting lawsuits and delayed releases.

The New York Times article chronicled allegations against Weinstein from Judd and former employees at both The Weinstein Co. and Weinstein's former company, Miramax, over the course of several decades. The report made an enormous impact felt throughout the movie industry and elsewhere.

"This abuse of power must be called out, however powerful the abuser, and we must publicly stand with those brave enough to come forward," wrote actress America Ferrera on Twitter. Many others, including Lena Dunham and Brie Larson also added their voices to the uproar.

The board of directors has pressured Weinstein to step down from the company he helped create, said a person familiar with the board's deliberations who was not authorized to speak publicly. Weinstein has resisted, hoping to weather the storm. Discussions between Weinstein and the board have been heated and contentious, the person said.

Leadership of the Weinstein Co. will be assumed by Bob Weinstein, who is Harvey Weinstein's brother, and David Glasser, the company's chief operating officer.

Harvey Weinstein on Thursday issued a lengthy statement that acknowledged causing "a lot of pain." He also asked for "a second chance." But Weinstein and his lawyers, including Harder, have criticized the New York Times' report in statements and interviews, though neither has referenced anything specific.

"We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting," said a New York Times spokesperson in a statement. "Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full."

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Weinstein attorney Lisa Bloom had both defended Weinstein and acknowledged he'd been "stupid." She saluted the women who have come forward to allege wrongdoing but said many allegations were overblown and consisted of Weinstein telling a woman she "looked cute without my glasses."

Congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, on Friday began giving charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from Weinstein.