Weinstein’s dark motive behind making Project Runway
Tuesday - 24/10/2017 09:06
THE reality show Project Runway was always an oddity on Harvey Weinstein’s resume. Sources say there was a sick reason for him making the show.
THE list of women accusing ousted film producer Harvey Weinstein of everything ranging from sexual harassment to rape keeps growing.
Much has been made of the Miramax and Weinstein Company co-founder’s abuse of actresses, using his high status in Hollywood to allegedly bully women into sexually charged encounters. But a new report from the LA Times has shifted focus to another realm Weinstein was heavily involved in: the fashion industry.
A dozen interviewees have come forward and claimed that Weinstein used the fashion industry as a “pipeline to women,” specifically citing the reality competition series that he executive produced until the recent sexual assault allegations, Project Runway. Weinstein’s involvement in the fashion industry is a personal one, as his wife is fashion designer and Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman. Chapman also serves as a judge on Project Runway All Stars.
Six people tied to Project Runway, not named due to the shows continued ties to the Weinstein Company, said Weinstein was interested in a fashion industry reality show since it would get him close to models. The series evolved from a reality show called Model Apartment (like Big Brother with models) initially thought up by German model Daniela Unruh. That concept shifted into a show focusing on designers, and supermodel Heidi Klum came on board. Even with Klum on board, the development process was taking way too long. One of Weinstein’s former employees remembered that Weinstein kept asking, “‘Where’s my model show?’ He wouldn’t drop it.”
Since Model Apartment had shifted to the designer-focused Project Runway,producers knew they had to add some model component to the new show to appease Weinstein. One television executive told the LA Times that they added a competition within a competition on Project Runway for 16 aspiring models; in the early seasons, Heidi literally told the models that it’s a competition for them, too, as the model paired with the winning designer would receive a fashion spread in a magazine. “That was designed as a vestigial element for Harvey,” said the unnamed exec.
With Project Runway a hit, Weinstein allegedly used his role as an executive producer on Project Runway to arrange meetings with models, meetings that women claim led to sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault and rape. As she told The New Yorker, actress Lucia Evans says Weinstein used Project Runway as a pretence for a meeting, a meeting that she says ended with her being forced to perform oral sex on him.
Weinstein used Project Runway’s popularity to score $US150 million in 2008 when the show switched networks from Bravo to Lifetime; there, he finally got his all-models show, the short-lived Models of the Runway. Since the accusations, Harvey Weinstein’s name has been removed from Project Runway’s credits.
This story originally appeared on Decider and is republished here with permission.