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De Palma to ‘create’ Weinstein horror film – Lawyer fights for mogul

LOS ANGELES, June 4, (Agencies): Brian De Palma became a horror movie icon when he helmed “Carrie” in 1976, and now more than 40 years later, he says he is returning to the genre to create a Harvey Weinstein horror film.

In a recent interview with French publication Le Parisien, 77-year old De Palma said the allegations of Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harassment will be the premise of his latest work.

“I’m writing a film about this scandal, a project I’m talking about with a French producer,” the director said. “My character won’t be named Harvey Weinstein but it will be a horror film, with a sexual aggressor, and it will take place in the film industry.”

De Palma, also known for directing “Scarface,” “Dressed to Kill,” “The Untouchables,” “Blow Out” and the original “Mission: Impossible,” did not elaborate on how soon the script would be completed. Though his crime thriller “Domino,” starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, and Guy Pearce, has been shot, he told Le Parisien working on it was “a horrible experience” and that it might not get released.

The director is not the only one in Hollywood working on an adaptation of the Weinstein story, as playwright David Mamet said earlier this year he wrote a play about the disgraced movie mogul. He told the Chicago Tribune that the work is called “Bitter Wheat” and no exact production plans or timeline for the play have been set. Jeffrey Richards will produce, and John Malkovich has reportedly spoken to Mamet about playing Weinstein.


“I have been following it very closely because I know a lot of the people involved,” De Palma told AFP in Paris, where he has just published his first novel in French.

“This has inspired an idea for another book,” he added.

“As a director you have to get actors’ confidence and their love in order to be able to use their instrument in your movie. And to violate it on any level is just to me the worst thing you can do, just because of your gluttony or your lust,” the 77-year-old said.

“I’ve heard stories over the years” about abuse and casting couches, the veteran filmmaker added. “I always reacted very strongly to anybody that was doing such things. And of course, you would hear stories about the most notorious people.”

De Palma said later that he was writing a script based on the scandal, “although my character will not be called Harvey Weinstein.”

“But it is a horror film, with a sexual aggressor, and the story will take place within the film industry,” he told the French daily, the Parisien.

De Palma defended his treatment of women characters in his films, arguing that the violence they faced was necessary for the stories to work.

“I would get that question year after year, and I would always give the same answer,” he told AFP. “But fortunately Quentin Tarantino took over that problem. They started asking him that question and they forgot about me, thank God.

“I was accused of putting women in jeopardy and I said this is a suspense movie. A woman presents a more vulnerable creature. To me it was just part of the genre, and I never thought it was anything sexist,” said the maker of the first “Mission: Impossible” film.

“I like women characters,” said the director, whose has co-written his first novel with his wife, journalist Susan Lehman.

The Hitchcockian thriller “Les serpents sont-ils necessaires?” (Are Snakes Necessary?) has been published in French before it comes out in English.


De Palma said Hitchcock’s film “Vertigo” was central to making him a film director. “I saw it in 1958 and it haunted me for the rest of my career,” he told AFP.

Lehman, a former New York Times reporter, said the book brings the Hitchcockian chiller into the post-#MeToo age.

“Brian has a particular sort of macho sensibility, and I thought it would be interesting to see what happens if a sort of a feminine streak got injected into that,” she said.

“What happens here is women take things into their own hands. And the men who are creepy and crude at best get what they deserve.”

De Palma said the #MeToo movement was not just changing the pay and working conditions of women in Hollywood, but it could also fundamentally change what movies are about.

“It will be interesting to see when women start controlling the aesthetic what is going to happen. It would be interesting to see if their gaze is so much different than ours. Because a lot of movies are about the male gaze, what the male sees.”

De Palma said he has just finished his latest film “Domino”, a thriller set in Denmark with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten of “Game of Thrones” fame, and is planning his next — another murder story — “Sweet Vengeance”, which will be shot in Uruguay.


NEW YORK: A powerful public figure is accused of sexual assault in a Manhattan hotel room. There’s media frenzy. Enter go-to defense attorney Ben Brafman.

Brafman, 69, was on the winning end of that scenario in 2011 when he helped former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn beat an attempted rape charge.

Seven years later, Brafman has an even bigger challenge: defending Harvey Weinstein against sex crime charges.

“I’m trying my best to save him in somewhat of an impossible situation he finds himself in,” Brafman told The Associated Press.

Saving unpopular clients in impossible situations is something of a specialty for Brafman, whose list of past clients includes professional athletes, celebrities and wealthy businessmen in trouble, some so vilified many lawyers would shy away from them.

He said in the past year he’s gotten to know Weinstein as someone with “a forceful personality” who “soaks up all the oxygen in the room,” but steadfastly maintains his innocence.

In Brafman, Weinstein gets a tactical and pugnacious lawyer willing to fight for him inside court — and outside, too, in pressure-cooker conditions.

With Strauss-Kahn, Brafman had a case that came to center on the credibility of a hotel maid who had accused the influential French diplomat of sexual assault.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. — the same prosecutor handling the Weinstein case — ultimately dropped the charges, saying there were inconsistencies in the accuser’s story.

Compared to Strauss-Kahn, Weinstein’s case appears to be a much heavier lift: He faces more serious allegations of raping one woman in a hotel room, plus forcing another to perform oral sex in his office. On top of that, there are dozens of similar allegations against his client by actresses and other women and a climate of outrage fueled by the #MeToo movement.

After Weinstein turned himself in May 25, Brafman came out swinging, telling reporters: “Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” and that “bad behavior is not on trial in this case.”

In the AP interview, the lawyer said he felt compelled to strike back against months of what he calls unfair press coverage fueled by leaks by authorities investigating the case. He also claims Vance is under intense political pressure to get a conviction, further stacking the odds against Weinstein.

“I think part of my ethical responsibility to a client in a high-profile case is to try and prevent a conviction by what’s happening outside of the courtroom,” he said. “And when there is a tsunami of bad press in a case like this, for example, I have to be able to try and level the playing field.”

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