Who is Gary Barber?
Gary Barber is an extremely well-known American film producer and has an extensive filmography to his name. He stepped into the role of CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 2010. He received high praise from industry insiders for his ability to prevent MGM from having to file for bankruptcy during his tenure as CEO. He was able to pull this off by producing one of the most commercially profitable films of the James Bond series during his time there.
Despite Gary Barber’s success at MGM with increasing the company’s profitability, he began to butt heads with other MGM executives over his position that the company should consider a sale in the near future to remain profitable. His suggestion was never seriously entertained and was met with hostility across the board at MGM. In 2018, he was ousted from his role as the CEO of MGM with a generous $260 million payout. Gary Barber currently serves as CEO of Spyglass Media Company and has recently come under some serious fire for his connection to infamous Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. He assumed control of The Weinstein Company’s movie and TV assets in 2019.
The Conditions Surrounding the Acquisition of The Weinstein Company
Following The Weinstein Company’s declaration of bankruptcy in 2018, Lantern Entertainment partnered up with Gary Barber to buy out The Weinstein Company. Their plan was to develop a content company to take advantage of the rising consumer demand for access to movies and TV shows through streaming services, such as Netflix. Although Lantern Entertainment maintains a majority stake in the production company, Spyglass Entertainment and Gary Barber retained a significant ownership percentage after the takeover. Eagle Pictures and Cineworld Group also have an equity share in the new production company. The acquisition deal concerning The Weinstein Company came at a time when many other Hollywood studios were exploring ways to take advantage of the popularity of streaming platforms and were scrambling to get a jumpstart on producing, owning and streaming their own exclusive content.
The acquisition of The Weinstein Company cost about $289 million and included a promise that a victims’ fund for those making claims against Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault and other predatory behavior would be established. The victims’ fund was supposed to be infused with $30 to $50 million in liquid assets. Maria Contreras Sweet, a former appointee of President Obama, was responsible for negotiating and approving many conditions of the acquisition deal, including the amount that Spyglass Entertainment agreed to contribute to the Harvey Weinstein victims’ compensation fund.
To get the production company up and running, Gary Barber moved its headquarters from New York to Los Angeles. He also convinced some former key MVM executives to come on board. The primary focus in the wake of the acquisition was to acquire as much movie and TV content as possible and position the company as a serious competitor to the other production studios clamoring to dominate the streaming platform wars.
The condition that Spyglass Entertainment would contribute significant assets to the fund to compensate victims of Harvey Weinstein was one of the most important aspects of the takeover of The Weinstein Company. There were concerns in government and from sexual assault victims’ support groups that any buyout of The Weinstein Company would allow other Hollywood producers to profit off of Harvey Weinstein’s exploitation of his victims without the victims receiving any type of compensation or rehabilitative resources in return.
Claims by the Protesters on Gary Barber’s Failure to Compensate Victims of Harvey Weinstein’s Criminal Behavior
Despite all of the conditions spelled out regarding Gary Barber’s takeover of The Weinstein Company, protesters speaking out on behalf of Harvey Weinstein’s victims allege that no victims have received any financial offers from Spyglass Entertainment so far. The protesters are now demanding that Gary Barber pony up on the promises that he made when he acquired The Weinstein Company. In addition to Gary Barber, the protestors also singled out Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic as key members of the Lantern Asset Management Capital leadership team who are also refusing to adequately fund the Harvey Weinstein victim compensation fund or take affirmative steps towards releasing any funds to the victims to date.
Their position is that the damage done by Harvey Weinstein’s horrific behavior cannot be simply erased by any amount of money donated to his victims, but that this would be an essential first step to helping the victims with rebuilding their lives and to send the message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated from anyone in a position of power. The protesters allege that the victims of Harvey Weinstein have waited years to be made whole again after the trauma they endured. However, Hollywood production companies like Spyglass Entertainment and Lantern Entertainment have been able to profit at their emotional and financial expense by continuing to conduct business as usual and exploit the name and revenue produced by The Weinstein Company without ever having to account for the heinous acts of Harvey Weinstein.
The protests took place outside of Gary Barber’s Century City executive offices and garnered an impressive amount of media attention. While there were only about 10 protesters present on February 14, 2020, their message was heard loud and clear. The protest came only several days before a jury in New York City delivered guilty verdicts on two counts of sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein. He still faces another criminal trial related to several other counts of sexual assault charges in Los Angeles. He has not yet appeared at any sentencing hearings for his criminal convictions.
Additional Claims Against Lantern Entertainment
This is not the only Hollywood scandal for which Lantern Entertainment has come under scrutiny in recent years. A 2018 court case filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court reveals that Lantern Entertainment was accused of making negligent misrepresentations, fraud and breach of contract by Marvin Peart, a successful Hollywood producer. Peart’s claims against Lantern Entertainment revolve around his exclusion from any involvement in the acquisition deal involving The Weinstein Company after he introduced Lantern Entertainment to the negotiating table. He is seeking $110 million in damages from Lantern Entertainment based on racism and discrimination by executives at Lantern Entertainment. He never received the seat at the bargaining table that he was promised or the seat on the board of directors of the Lantern Entertainment that was supposed to be awarded to him in exchange for his role in brokering the acquisition deal.
In sum, Peart was never compensated for his role in arranging for the Lantern Entertainment takeover of The Weinstein Company in 2018. According to the lawsuit, the exclusion of Peart from the ultimate deal and any leadership position within Lantern Entertainment represents a move to exclude minority voices and representation in some of the biggest business deals in the film industry. The lawsuit is still pending, and it remains to be seen whether Peart will receive any form of compensation for his contributions to the deal.
The Aftermath of the Protest Against Spyglass Entertainment CEO Gary Barber
In the weeks following the public protest against Gary Barber, Spyglass Entertainment and Lantern Entertainment, there have not been any significant moves by the involved parties to provide any additional funding to the Harvey Weinstein victims’ compensation fund or release any assets to any of the victims. The upcoming sentencing hearing and Los Angeles criminal trial of Harvey Weinstein will likely garner renewed media attention to the issue of the outstanding victim compensation and the failure of the responsible parties to make any moves towards providing the victims the resources that they are entitled to.
One of the issues that remain to be seen is whether Harvey Weinstein will be ordered by any court to pay restitution to his victims. Any forthcoming court order regarding restitution could be limited to the victims that are named in the criminal cases against Harvey Weinstein. The victims’ compensation fund would likely be available to a wider circle of victims that suffered from Harvey Weinstein’s egregious behavior. It would also be more readily accessible to victims because they would not have to wait until a specified deadline for Harvey Weinstein to make restitution to his victims.
Another advantage of being able to compensate victims through the victims’ fund that Gary Barber and other Spyglass Entertainment executives were supposed to be maintaining is that the victims’ payments would not be held up by any potential declaration of bankruptcy by Harvey Weinstein. It is common in cases where high-profile celebrities face criminal or serious civil charges that they are not in control of their financial situation by the conclusion of the legal proceedings. The victims’ fund that was supposed to be established and funded by Spyglass Entertainment was a form of protection for the victims so that they would not be further inconvenienced by Harvey Weinstein’s financial woes as his criminal and civil legal proceedings continue.