Three Women Have Accused Harvey Weinstein Of Rape In A New Yorker Expose

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Harvey Weinstein

In an expansive story in The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow has further chronicled allegations of sexual malfeasance on the part of the former movie executive Harvey Weinstein. The story details allegations of harassment and, for the first time, rape.

Weinstein’s spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, issued the following statement to The New Yorker:

Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.

In response to an email asking whether Weinstein had further comment after reading the story, and whether he planned to sue the New Yorker (as he has threatened to do to the New York Times), Hofmeister responded, “Nothing to add at this time.”

It’s been a week of reckoning for the once indomitable studio executive, whose success in the independent film business in the ’90s was only outmatched by his sovereignty over Oscars campaigning. After last week’s Times story, which exposed allegations of sexual harassment of employees, Ashley Judd, and a $100,000 settlement with Rose McGowan after what the Times called an “episode” in a hotel room in 1997, Weinstein was fired from his job at The Weinstein Company, which he cofounded in 2005 with his brother, Bob.

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Asia Argento on a red carpet at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

The New Yorker story focuses more on sexual assault than harassment. Actor-director Asia Argento alleged that Weinstein raped her in 1997 when she was 21 and they were working together on the movie B. Monkey. Argento alleged she was brought to Weinstein’s hotel by a producer under the pretext of a party; instead, she said, it was Weinstein’s hotel room, and they were alone. Argento alleged that after she “reluctantly agreed to give Weinstein a massage,” he forcibly performed oral sex on her though she “repeatedly told him to stop.” She has not come forward until now, Argento told Farrow, out of fear Weinstein would “crush” her. “I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” she said.

Over the years, Argento said she developed a complicated relationship with Weinstein. According to the story: “She said that she had consensual sexual relations with him multiple times over the course of the next five years, though she described the encounters as one-sided and ‘onanistic.'” Argento also depicted the alleged rape in her 2000 movie Scarlet Diva, in which a “heavyset producer” tries to assault her character, but she escapes. In response, Argento said Weinstein told her, “Ha ha, very funny.”

In another account in the New Yorker story of alleged rape, an aspiring actor named Lucia Evans who was about to be a senior in college went to Weinstein’s office in Tribeca in 2004 that she thought was also going to be with a female casting executive. Evans found herself meeting with Weinstein alone. He told her that she could be on Project Runway, a Weinstein production, “but only if she lost weight,” Evans said. He mentioned two movies as well. And then, Evans alleged, he forced her to perform oral sex on him. “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t.'”

There is a third account of rape in the story, this one anonymous. A colleague of Weinstein’s alleges that she went to Weinstein’s hotel room for a work meeting, when he “forced himself on me sexually.” This woman continued to work with Weinstein, she said, because she feared his retaliation and needed the job.

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Mira Sorvino at New York Fashion Week’s Art Hearts Fashion in 2017.

Both Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette told Farrow that they found themselves in hotel rooms with Weinstein also, and turned him down. They alleged that their careers suffered repercussions as a result. In Sorvino’s case, she told a female employee at Miramax about the alleged harassment, who reacted with “shock and horror” that Sorvino had said something.

Arquette said when Weinstein allegedly forcibly tried to put her hand on his erect penis, she told him, “I will never do that.” According to Arquette, Weinstein took revenge on her professionally. She appeared in a small part in Miramax’s Pulp Fiction because Weinstein deferred to Quentin Tarantino, but, she said, “He made things very difficult for me for years.”

The New Yorker story is more than 7,500 words, and includes accounts from several other women of alleged harassment. Farrow also obtained the recording made by Ambra Battilana Gutierrez at the behest of the New York Police Department after she alleged that Weinstein had touched her breasts and reached under her skirt at a meeting at his office in 2015. No charges were brought against Weinstein after information about Gutierrez began coming out in the New York tabloids. “Yesterday was kind of aggressive for me,” Gutierrez can be heard saying. Weinstein apologizes repeatedly while begging her not to embarrass him in the hotel. She asks why he touched her breast: “I’m used to that,” Weinstein replies.

Weinstein’s professional downfall came swiftly after the publication of the Times story on Thursday. In his rambling response to the article, Weinstein said he would go on leave. On Friday, the Weinstein Company board announced it had hired an independent investigator to look into the Times’ allegations, adding that “we strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already-announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Company, commencing today … Next steps will depend on Harvey’s therapeutic progress, the outcome of the Board’s independent investigation, and Harvey’s own personal decisions.” On Sunday, he was fired.

Since the Times story was published, other women have come forward, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie in a new Times story published on Tuesday. According to Paltrow, when she was starring in Miramax’s Emma at 22, she went to Weinstein’s hotel as arranged by CAA, her agency. Once there, she alleges Weinstein tried to give her a massage, at which point she left. She told Brad Pitt, whom she was dating at the time, who confronted Weinstein. According to Paltrow, Weinstein called and “screamed at me for a long time.”

Mike Blake / Reuters

The producers of the Miramax film Shakespeare in Love hold their Oscars with the film’s star and Best Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, after their film won Best Picture at the 71st Annual Academy Awards ceremony March 21, 1999.

Jolie told the Times in an email: “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did. This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”

Five other women, including Arquette, talked to the Times as well.

They’re not alone. Lauren Sivan, a former reporter for a local news channel in New York, told HuffPost that 10 years ago, Weinstein forced her to watch him masturbate in a restaurant over her objections. The actor Romola Garai told The Guardian that when she was 18, Weinstein made her come to his hotel room in London to meet with him over the lead role in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. He answered the door in a bathrobe, she alleged: “The point was that he could get a young woman to do that, that I didn’t have a choice, that it was humiliating for me and that he had the power.”

Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Kate Winslet, Kevin Smith, Jessica Chastain, Seth Rogen, and others have issued statements and tweeted against Weinstein.

Weinstein’s career and legacy has crumbled. On Monday, a desperate email he sent to entertainment industry moguls on Sunday before his firing leaked out through Janice Min, the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter. “Just give me the time to have therapy,” Weinstein begged a group that apparently included Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ron Meyer. “Do not let me be fired.”

After he was indeed fired, the aftereffects of Weinstein’s disgrace continued to pile up. Apple killed a 10-episode scripted series about the life of Elvis Presley that The Weinstein Company was producing. The Weinstein Company is allowing TV networks to take Weinstein’s name off its shows, which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, will begin this week with Project Runway and will continue with all of the new and returning series the company has, including high-profile 2018 projects Waco and Yellowstone for the Paramount Network and The Romanoffs for Amazon.

The entire company is going to be renamed, according to Deadline, as an attempt to distance itself from Harvey Weinstein’s ignominy.

Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.

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Here Are The Women That Harvey Weinstein Has Allegedly Sexually Harassed

Harvey Weinstein was fired from his position as co-chair of the Weinstein Company days after the New York Times published an article that detailed decades of sexual harassment allegations against the celebrated executive.

In a statement to the Times on Oct. 5, Weinstein said, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.” Later that day, one of his attorneys announced that Weinstein planned to sue the newspaper for the story, which the attorney called “defamatory.”

Rumors about Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior with women had been circulating for years; actor Kate Winslet — who did not identify as a victim of his alleged misconduct — suggested as much in a statement she gave to Variety on Monday (Oct. 9): “I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumors, maybe we have all been naïve.”

According to former employees, many people had heard stories about the producer; Mark Gill, the former president of Miramax Los Angeles, told the New York Times, “If a female executive was asked to go to a meeting solo, she and a colleague would generally double up” to avoid being alone with Weinstein. And in the New York Times story, Ashley Judd said, “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.” In 2015, Judd had told Variety — without naming Weinstein at the time — about an incident in the ’90s when a studio mogul had put pressure on her to perform sexual activities.

Here Are The Celebrities Speaking Out Against Harvey Weinstein

In a statement to Patriot Not Partisan, Alyssa Milano, who hosts the Weinstein-produced Lifetime series Project Runway: All Stars, said: “I’ve been asked a number of times to comment on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. While I am sickened and angered over the disturbing accusations of Weinstein’s sexual predation and abuse of power, I’m happy — ecstatic even — that it has opened up a dialogue around the continued sexual harassment, objectification and degradation of women. To the women who have suffered any form of abuse of power, I stand beside you. To the women who have come forward against a system that is designed to keep you silent, I stand in awe of you and appreciate you and your fortitude. It is not easy to disclose such experiences, especially in the public eye. Your strength will inspire others. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for fighting this battle so hopefully my daughter won’t have to.

I’ve been an actor for a long time. So long, that when I started, we were called ‘actresses’ — a feminized, watered down name for the same profession our male colleagues have dominated. Somewhere in the early 2000s it became politically incorrect to call us actresses, and with good reason. After all, there’s no feminized moniker for a director or producer or a writer or doctor or a lawyer. So ‘actresses’ became ‘actors’. But sexual harassment and sexism in the industry did not change with the title change. We were still clearly ‘actresses’ to anyone that saw gender before talent and intelligence.

I can tell you what it meant to be an ‘actress’ then and what it patmeans to be an ‘actor’ (with breasts) now. BUT more importantly, I can tell you what it means to be a woman in our society. In any – and every – profession, women are continuously mistreated. This is not an uncommon occurrence. This is a sick culture. Men like Harvey Weinstein are around every corner. Men who undermine women and their strength, ability and intelligence exist everywhere. Statistics say that 1 in 3 women are sexually harassed in the workplace. Really think about that. Really allow that statistic to become a part of you. Also, while you process it, think about the gender inequality women — particularly women of color — face in salary and opportunity. Actually, fuck the statistics, just do better, world.

Even with these strong feelings — not just about Weinstein but about workplace sexism in general — this statement is complicated for me for personal reasons. Harvey has a wife, who I have had the privilege of working with for the last 5 years on Project Runway All Stars. Georgina Chapman is my friend. She is one of the most special humans I have ever met. Harvey and Georgina also have two very young children who my children have known their entire lives. It is because of my love for Georgina, India, and Dashiell that I haven’t publicly commented on this until now. Please don’t confuse my silence for anything other than respect for a dear friend and her beautiful children.

And please know that I fight for women’s rights every day. I am constantly part of this conversation even if I don’t publicly comment on specific scandals. Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are not just about Harvey Weinstein. We must change things in general. We must do better for women everywhere.”

Ava DuVernay Shared The One Time In Her Career She Betrayed Herself

“My father, [at] five years old, was one of the kids standing out, waving as Dr. King and the people walked by,” DuVernay said. “The symbol for Lowndes County on their county flag is a panther… You know the whole Black Panther origin? Lowndes County is — that’s its own movie. It’s incredible. My father is from there. And his daughter ends up making the film called Selma. So when I get the script and… it’s called Selma, shouldn’t there be some people from Selma in the movie?”

The Rare Practicing Jewish Character In Hollywood

While there have been plenty of Jewish characters in film, usually the most “Jewish” thing about them is their last name: Cher Horowitz in Clueless, Jim Levenstein in American Pie, Frances Houseman in Dirty Dancing, etc. Their religion rarely factors into the movie itself.

That’s why it’s particularly noteworthy that Marshall — the upcoming film about Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) defending Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown) from accusations he raped a rich white woman (Kate Hudson) in 1941 — not only features a central Jewish character, but that that character’s faith is a large part of the story.

In Marshall, attorney Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad) is shown attending temple services with his family, heard talking about the importance of his faith, and one scene even features a member of his congregation donating money to Spell’s defense.

For Gad, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, the role is a source of pride — especially since he knows how rare characters like Friedman are in pop culture. “There’s a comment that’s sort of notorious in Hollywood, especially by creative people of Jewish background, where there’s a great fear that something might be ‘too Jewish’ for audiences,” Gad told BuzzFeed News. “I think one of the refreshing things about this film is it does embrace that very thing and to me, it was so important because it’s true. I mean, you don’t really get to see that.”

Jarett Wieselman is a senior entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. Wieselman writes about and reports on the television industry.

Contact Jarett Wieselman at

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NeNe Leakes Has Apologized For Telling An Audience Member At Her Stand-Up Show That She Hopes She Gets Raped

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Uber issued to following statement to BuzzFeed News:

Oct. 09, 2017, at 20:21 PM

“Wishing the trauma and violence of rape on anyone is nothing to joke about. Comments like these disrespect those affected by sexual assault and minimize the seriousness of societal issue that affects millions.”

How The FBI Shapes Its Image Through Movies

When director Henry-Alex Rubin requested the FBI’s help with his 2012 cyber drama Disconnect, he wanted notes on the screenplay’s accuracy. But he suspected they wanted something more.

“They understand that perception is everything,” he told BuzzFeed News of the FBI. “The more they are perceived well, the easier their job is.”

He recalled that the FBI employee who reviewed the shooting draft of his film proposed changes to a scene in which two agents aggressively questioned a journalist.

“I remember distinctly the consultant saying to me, ‘This is not at all how we operate,’” he said. As Rubin recalled, the consultant told him that the FBI approaches people in a manner that “at least on the surface” is “kind and cooperative, and that attitude usually yields much more results than being suspicious or aggressive.”

Rubin changed the scene.

“If we don’t tell our story, then fools will gladly tell it for us.”

The director was right to think that the FBI is keenly concerned with its public perception: Hundreds of pages of FBI documents BuzzFeed News has obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit reveal that the FBI actively seeks to control and burnish its image through consulting work on films. Over the past five years, the FBI’s Hollywood-focused Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit has played a role in the development of hundreds of movies, television shows, and documentaries. Examples are varied, and include the newly released Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, a biopic about the famous Watergate leaker Deep Throat; the 2012 straight-to-DVD Miley Cyrus romp So Undercover; and an episode of the docuseries Fatal Encounters. The bureau views these projects as marketing tools for an agency that desperately wants to build the FBI “brand,” the documents say.

“If we don’t tell our story, then fools will gladly tell it for us,” reads an August 2013 FBI PowerPoint slide advising bureau personnel how to use the media to their benefit. “Most people form their opinion of the FBI from pop culture, not a two-minute news story.”

The slide also includes this bullet point: “In any given week, Nielsen data indicates that FBI-themed dramas or documentaries reach 100,000,000+ people in the United States.” (Nielsen did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment on this data point.)

Slides from an FBI PowerPoint presentation obtained by BuzzFeed News through the Freedom of Information Act (click or tap to enlarge)

According to that slideshow, the FBI’s public affairs office — which acts as the liaison between the entertainment industry and the bureau — reviewed 728 requests for assistance on media ranging from novels to big-budget blockbusters in 2012 alone. FBI consultations are free for the filmmaker (although not for the taxpayer), and the consultations described in these documents ranged in scale from a cursory informational email exchange to “personnel and time intensive” multi-day shoots at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, DC.

The majority of productions asked for something relatively small, like a quick fact-check or permission to use the FBI logo. In one brief consultation from March 2011, the FBI seriously considered a request from the screenwriter of the musical zombie horror-comedy Diamond Dead. The writer “was looking to put the FBI in a chase for zombies ‘just because’ in his [mind] he thought the fictitious FBI in his script would like to research the zombies,” an FBI employee wrote in the documents. “I advised him to try with someone like NIH, HHS, CDC, or another health/medical government agency as it would be of no interest to the FBI unless they committed a crime.”

The writer-producer who made that call, Andrew Gaty, told BuzzFeed News, “I always like to do fairly serious research,” recalling that he spoke with the staffer for a few minutes. “My basic question was, what would the FBI do if they found zombies?”

“My basic question was, what would the FBI do if they found zombies?”

The FBI doesn’t just field queries from filmmakers but also takes a proactive role when an opportunity arises to advance its own public relations interests. Indeed, a few years ago, an FBI agent was reading a Hollywood trade publication when the agent came upon a story about a movie that would star Sylvester Stallone as reputed mob enforcer and FBI informant Gregory Scarpa. The agent was intrigued and decided to reach out to Nicholas Pileggi, the Goodfellas scribe who was writing the Scarpa screenplay, to ask “if he wanted FBI input,” according to the FBI documents. Pileggi apparently was interested and told the FBI agent he would make contact when “he was ready to start the project.” Pileggi’s representative did not respond to a request for comment, and the film is still in development.

Christopher Allen, the Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit chief, told BuzzFeed News that the FBI could not provide updated figures about the number of productions it has assisted with since 2013. But productions featuring the FBI continue at a rapid pace. Mark Felt was released Sept. 29. In October, Netflix will premiere Mindhunter — a series about FBI agents who study and track down serial killers — and CBS will air the 280th episode of its own serial-killer-catcher procedural, Criminal Minds. The Netflix series consulted directly with the FBI, and the former agent who wrote the book Mind Hunter, John E. Douglas, is a credited consultant on the show. Criminal Minds has also consulted with the bureau, and this season, an agent turned producer will have his 11th writing credit on the show.

Although the bureau explicitly says it “does not edit or approve [filmmakers’] work,” winning cooperation from the FBI often means portraying the bureau in a positive light. According to the documents, the FBI will sometimes deny permission to use the logo for reasons that border on petty: One film was turned down in 2008 because the FBI’s role in the movie was too small. And for certain projects — like the Silence of the Lambs trilogy, the 2009 Johnny Depp film Public Enemies, and 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard — the bureau will go to extraordinary lengths to assist production teams, assigning agents to answer questions on call or approving multi-day shoots on FBI grounds. Additionally, the bureau conducts semi-regular “FBI 101” workshops at the Writers Guild, instructing screenwriters on the ins and outs of working with the bureau; an invitation to one such event in June called it “your opportunity to engage the FBI directly.”

Matthew Cecil, a scholar of the FBI’s image, told BuzzFeed News that the FBI’s relationship with Hollywood dates back eight decades. The bureau’s PR strategies have been “remarkably” successful in advancing the FBI’s goal of making people “more comfortable with the idea of this extremely powerful agency.” Cecil, who wrote Branding Hoover’s FBI, distinguished the bureau’s branding from that of the CIA (which has an “entertainment industry liaison”): “They’ve never been good at it at all.”

The FBI is still secretive about how it interacts with Hollywood filmmakers. It took three years and a lawsuit to pry loose these documents. But nearly a dozen filmmakers who spoke to BuzzFeed News were mostly open and positive about the liaison. The majority recounted how deeply impressed they were by the thoroughness and professionalism of the FBI employees they interacted with. “They were highly intelligent, and they could see easily what the script was trying to say, and where it was going,” said Peter Woodward, who wrote the 2010 Samuel L. Jackson film Unthinkable.

Filmmakers explained that they contact the FBI because they want their work to be more realistic. “I have always found the FBI to be extremely and productively cooperative and open. … I’ve actually found them almost as eager understand the narrative I’m after as I am,” said Mark Felt writer-director and former journalist Peter Landesman.

But it’s clearly more than just an educational exercise for the bureau. Internally, the FBI says it has a “mission interest in developing the public image of the FBI and ensuring an accurate portrayal of FBI personnel, past and present, in order to encourage public cooperation with the FBI in performing its mission.” The documents show that the unit evaluates how high-profile a project is going to be before deciding to approve consultation, generally reserving their highest levels of assistance for projects expected to be blockbusters. The unit’s guidelines for requests specify that the agency needs to know “whether the project is ‘sold,’ ‘green lit,’ commissioned, or speculative.”

In one 44-page spreadsheet that logged more than 200 requests made between 2005 and 2014, Tom Hanks was name-dropped three times (for Captain Phillips, Parkland, and Mark Felt). In another document referring to the predicted blockbuster Live Free or Die Hard, the office acknowledged that the movie was not about the bureau — in the final film, FBI characters spend much of their screen time describing the havoc caused by hackers. And yet the Office of Public Affairs approved a two-day shoot at the J. Edgar Hoover Building involving around 400 extras; additionally, an agent from the Los Angeles office worked with the production “extensively, to include sitting in on production meetings.” In contrast, another project received a recommendation that “LIMITED ASSISTANCE BE PROVIDED AS THIS IS A FIRST TIME SCREENWRITER.”

Dreamworks / ©DreamWorks / Courtesy Everett Collection

Tom Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can.

The FBI’s self-interest was evident to Ed Saxon, the Silence of the Lambs producer who was the bureau’s point person on the 1991 film. Saxon expressed some misgivings about the consulting arrangement. “We had political qualms about how closely we were working with the FBI and how much we were making the FBI look like heroes when the FBI’s history as an organ of the state has been complicated, to say the least,” he told BuzzFeed News.

In a nod to those reservations, director Jonathan Demme added a line to the film about the agency’s record of civil rights abuses, Saxon said. “To Jonathan in particular, it was important that he wasn’t just making a commercial for the United States police department.” The production team knew the FBI viewed the movie as a recruiting tool for female agents: “Our picture — with a heroic female agent, or agent trainee, at its center — lined up well with their goals,” the producer said.

Saxon’s take is more in line with internal records at the FBI. The bureau’s recommendations for cooperating with filmmakers generally emphasize a commitment to accuracy, but sometimes they refer directly to how the agency appears. A few documents stated that the goal was not only to support authentic depictions but favorable ones; one said, “Most of the time, Hollywood writers do not seek our input and oftentimes they get it wrong. So when given the opportunity to educate the writers/producers we have found we are in a better position to possibly have them portray the FBI in a positive light and with accuracy, or fairly close to accurate.”

Sony Pictures / ©Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Johnny Depp in the 1997 film Donnie Brasco.

There are also hints that the bureau wants to remind the public that FBI employees are people, too. When the FBI recommended that personnel should be interviewed on camera for a special feature on the 2000 DVD release of Donnie Brasco, a document explained that “[t]he segment would satisfy the public’s desire to learn about the FBI by showing the human, personal side of an Agent’s job.”

The documents suggest that the ideal onscreen FBI character is approachable, polite, and not conducting surveillance. In April 2012, someone from the production of the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson crime caper Empire State put in a request to use the FBI seal in the film on short notice. After the unit reviewed the script, the request was denied, in part because the script featured bureau personnel being rude to local law enforcement. “P. 70 had FBI agents rolling onto scene and immediately condescending NYPD,” the log says. “Also later in script agents were ‘dragging’ patrons out of restaurants and theaters…the script does not accurately portray FBI procedures and personnel and therefore use of official SEAL was declined via email on 4/27/2012.”

This position — preferring a restrained image of the bureau — was echoed in the recommendation for Public Enemies, which followed the hunt for a group of 1930s bank robbers. Although the FBI approved significant consulting on Public Enemies, a document noted that the film “‘heightens the image of the FBI as an agency seeking to win by whatever means necessary,’ not necessarily a flattering portrayal.”

And the FBI has long wanted to avoid associations with covert surveillance in particular. Wiretapping, as Cecil writes in Hoover’s FBI and the Fourth Estate, was expressly forbidden from the TV series that the bureau essentially coproduced in the ’60s and ’70s; that aversion continues to the present day. A request was declined in 2012 not only because a “[f]ictional agent has incredibly small role” but also because the agent was “not portrayed in best light (mostly through scare tactics of wiretapping and other surveillance).” And on the podcast Crime and Science Radio in 2015, FBI Public Affairs Specialist Betsy Glick said that bureau officials shaped fictional portrayals of the FBI because they don’t want people “getting a bunch of erroneous, negative, Big Brother–type messages from the media” — explicitly referring to the pervasive state surveillance in the book 1984.

“[I]f all the people see in the movies or in pop culture are negative and wrong antagonistic portrayals, they’re not gonna cooperate.”

Notably, one of the most prominent recent films that was critical of the FBI — 2014’s Selma, which portrays the bureau’s intense surveillance of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. — relied on books, documentaries, and internal FBI documents, and not on consultation with the bureau itself. Director Ava DuVernay, who also rewrote the script, was not available for an interview, but her representative confirmed to BuzzFeed News that she never reached out to the FBI for assistance; neither did screenwriter Paul Webb, his representative said.

One screenwriter’s takeaway from an FBI seminar held at the Writers Guild — that the FBI largely worked with filmmakers because the agency wants to seem friendly and approachable — was repeated by Glick on the podcast. “How does the FBI solve crimes?” she asked. Glick answered her own question: “We solve crimes when people are willing to talk to an agent when he knocks on their door, and if all the people see in the movies or in pop culture are negative and wrong antagonistic portrayals, they’re not gonna cooperate. Our mission is to build the trust of the American people so that they can help us solve our operational mission.” ●

Ariane Lange is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

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Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in LA. Recipient: IRE 2016 FOI award; Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. PGP fingerprint 46DB 0712 284B 8C6E 40FF 7A1B D3CD 5720 694B 16F0. Contact this reporter at

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