The $500 million bid by the group headed by Maria Contreras-Sweet to buy the embattled Weinstein Company could be getting resuscitated — despite a sweeping lawsuit filed Sunday by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“The situation is fluid,” said one source close the attorney general’s office.
Both sides have been in contact about reviving the deal since the suit was filed, according to sources on both sides.
In addition, Gloria Allred, the attorney representing a number of the victims of alleged sexual harassment by TWC co-founder Harvey Weinstein, on Monday issued another strong vote of confidence for the bid headed by Contreras-Sweet, who was the head of the Small Business Administration for three years under President Obama.
“The only clear pathway to truly helping victims, many of whom I represent, is to allow this deal to proceed,” Allred said. “ I have worked with Maria’s team and they are 100 percent committed to helping victims. That is why I unequivocally support their deal.”
She added, “If the Weinstein Company is allowed to slip into bankruptcy, which is what may happen due to this lawsuit by the AG, I have grave concerns there will not be any funds left for victims.”
The AG on Sunday filed a lengthy suit naming Harvey, his co-founder brother Bob Weinstein and the company itself as defendants after a four-month investigation in which new infractions were alleged in Harvey Weinstein’s decade-long history of alleged predatory sexual behavior. The allegations involve everyone from lowly assistants and aspiring models and actresses to some of the industry’s biggest stars.
Among the claims in the 38-page lawsuit, Harvey Weinstein used a team of “wing women” to scout other women as potential sex partners for Weinstein. His limo driver was said to always carry a stash of Viagra and condoms on board in case they were needed by Harvey for his trysts.
Schneiderman was also said to have a problem with Chief Operating Officer David Glasser as a potential CEO of a new company on the grounds he did not do enough to stop the predatory behavior and may have helped to cover it up, according to sources close to the AG’s office.
One source close to Contreras-Sweet said that while TWC would seek to retain as much of the creative talent at the 200-employee company as possible, it does not mandate that Glasser — or anyone else — take over.
More importantly, a source close to the buy said that the company was prepared to set up a fund with $50 million based on the profits of five future movies. That would be in addition to the $20 million in insurance that the company currently carries.
The AG is said to be very concerned that there be guarantees that victims will be compensated, and that executives with a past history of predatory behavior or involvement in a cover-up do not participate in any new ownership.
The buy-side source also said that two-thirds of the stock in the new company would be controlled by women, and that at least 51 percent of the board of directors would be women.
Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. and Lantern Asset Management are minority backers in the deal.
Under the bid sheet, the prospective new buyers would be buying the assets for about $275 million and assuming about $225 million in existing debt.
“I believe we have now reached a crossroads where it is imperative that a woman-led board acquire control of the Company and create content that continues to inspire audiences around the world, especially our young girls and boys,” Contreras-Sweet said in her original bid letter that went to TWC board in November.