IIt’s, by now, a familiar timeline: five days apart in early October 2017, New York Times Y the new yorker published two separate and shocking revelations about the abusive and predatory behavior of film producer Harvey Weinstein. The gruesome details of his rapes, of his extensive network of nondisclosure agreements, of his routine abuse over decades, and of the many, many people who were unable or unwilling to stop him, became a torrent of women’s experiences with sexual assault. . Within days, the #MeToo movement was a large-scale cultural recognition, although the hashtag was coined years before by activist Tarana Burke.
In the three and a half years since, #MeToo has morphed into a broader reconsideration of not just sexual assault but also toxic workplaces, the legacy of trauma, and deference to those with money and power. Weinstein’s original story has also expanded; Two books published in fall 2019, She Said, by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and Catch and Kill, by New Yorker Ronan Farrow, detailed the wild and stubborn reporting behind their initial revelations. Farrow expanded Catch and Kill to a podcast that included interviews with key figures in history: editors, other reporters, and most importantly, several of the women who recorded their stories of assault and forced silence by Weinstein. Meanwhile, Farrow kept the cameras on; Subsequent footage has been restructured, with additional visuals and context, for HBO’s Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes, which will air this month.
“Even though this is a story you may think you know, we’re saying, ‘Well, no, actually, there’s a lot more to it than that,’” said Fenton Bailey, co-director with Randy Barbato. “And it’s still a present-tense story.” (Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 of rape and sexual assault, and sentenced to 23 years in prison; he will be extradited from a New York state prison to California to face trial on 11 more charges, pertaining to five different women later this year).
In fact, across six half-hour episodes, Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes grapples with both the difficulty of getting details of Weinstein’s predation on record and the long shadow of making one’s trauma public. The series rearranges and condenses the 10-part podcast material; The episodes are delineated by roles (“The reporters”, “The assistants”, “The editors”), beginning with an interview with Ambra Battilana Gutiérrez, the Filipino-Italian model who assisted the New York Police Department in an undercover operation. after Weinstein assaulted her in 2015.. Gutierrez’s wire tape, in which Weinstein attempted to threaten to coerce her into having sex (“Five minutes,” he warned, “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes”) and that Gutierrez sneakily put away after Weinstein’s attorneys cleaned their devices. as part of an NDA, it formed the backbone of Farrow’s first New Yorker article.
A later episode highlights another Weinstein survivor, Rowena Chiu, a former Miramax assistant who took two years after initial reports to speak publicly about her. #MeToo story: the night Weinstein tried to rape her at the Venice film festival in 1998, the deal that locked her in fear and silence for two decades, how Weinstein exploited the intersections of race (Chiu is British-Chinese), gender, seniority and money. that caught her.
The entire Catch and Kill company catalogs numerous overlapping power systems that protected Weinstein for decades. “The book, the podcast, this television series, they are about the growing challenges of speaking truth to power,” Barbato said. “And that’s very relevant right now, in the times we live in, where the truth is often co-opted for money and power.”
There’s Hollywood, as told by Hollywood Reporter writer Kim Masters and New York writer Ken Auletta, both aware of the misconduct allegations against Weinstein in the 1990s and early 2000s, but unable to officially substantiate them. (Auletta, for example, knew of the Weinstein-Chiu deal, but couldn’t get the hard proof to publish it.) There is the New York prosecutor’s office, which refused to act on the Gutierrez tape, much to his horror. (Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said in the New Yorker article, “After reviewing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported”; defended his office’s decision in 2015 after convicting Weinstein in 2020).
And then there are the national media. In an episode with former NBC news producer Rich McHugh, Farrow reiterates his position that NBC News, where he initially began reporting on Weinstein, killed the story under pressure from top executives concerned about Weinstein and highlighting deals paid to ex. Employees who accused the Hoy Presents Matt Lauer of rape and sexual harassment. (Lauer was fired when, in the wake of #MeToo, those allegations were made public.) NBC News president Noah Oppenheim has denied Farrow’s claim, calling it a “smear”; Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes, is based on the evidence from Farrow and McHugh.
In the final episode, Farrow interviews Igor Ostrovskiy, a private security agent. hired to spy on him, and delves into the world of private espionage: a dark cottage industry, almost too thriller to believe, increasingly targeting investigative journalists around the world. “The more people that can see this,” Barbato said, the greater the potential “not only for more people to understand how difficult it has become not only for whistleblowers but also for investigative journalists, and how important it is to support these. voices and speak themselves. “
The anchors of the series, however, are the women who, for their own reasons and on their own timelines, speak publicly here. Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes not only provides additional visual context to his stories, but also delves into his separate Weinstein backdrops, reorienting the narrative away from the one bad man. “It’s really about them,” Bailey said. “It’s not really about Harvey Weinstein. It’s the least interesting piece of all this. “
With the trauma, “not only are they destroyed, they are their loved ones, their families,” he added. “These things blow a giant hole in the fabric of our society. It is not just about isolated individuals, it radiates ”.
Both directors pointed to the presence of Gutiérrez, Chiu, actress Rose McGowan and others, conversationally speaking, more dimensional than a name in an exhibition, as a weight against the meticulously detailed and frustratingly resistant obstacles to justice. “On the surface, the story is so heartbreaking, depressing and dark, and yet for us, there is a lot of hope in this series,” Barbato said. That hope, he added, was “to hear these voices, be they the whistleblowers, be they the investigative journalists, these brave individuals who are trying to get closer to the light and the truth.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism