Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill offers insight into the ways alleged predators like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein escaped accountability for so long. According to Farrow’s book, people often agreed to look the other way when it came to allegations made against powerful men as a means of advancing their own careers. The Hollywood Reporter looked into one of the alleged relationships mentioned in the book, between NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and Harvey Weinstein.
According to reporting in Catch and Kill, Oppenheim and NBC News/MSNBC chairman Andy Lack actively prevented the allegations against Weinstein from being reported. In light of that, Oppenheim’s career as a screenwriter has come under scrutiny. His most well-known work is the Natalie Portman led Jackie, but he also has several other unpublished works and scripts in production at various studios.
A source told The Hollywood Reporter that when Jackie premiered at Cannes in 2016, Weinstein was rumored to be one of the top contenders to distribute the film. He reportedly was let into the screening earlier than the rest of the guests, in order to get the best seat. Afterward, Weinstein was reportedly interested in the film, but a formal offer was never made.
Based on the information available, there’s no clear link between Oppenheim’s screenwriting career and NBC News’ attempts to prevent the allegations against Weinstein from getting out. Oppenheim maintains that the allegations made against him in Catch and Kill are false.
“I’ve never had any relationship of any kind with Harvey Weinstein and never wanted one. Never worked for him, never tried to work for him, never wanted to work for him,” Oppenheim told The Hollywood Reporter. “I sold the script for Jackie to Fox Searchlight in 2010, six years prior to its release, and had zero subsequent role in seeking financing or distribution. I’ve never attended the Cannes festival, and to invoke someone’s alleged, unpursued interest there — a non-event completely outside my control or awareness — fuels the worst kind of conspiracy-mongering.”
In a memo that Oppenheim sent to NBC News employees, and that The Hollywood Reporter obtained, he called the actions of Lauer “abhorrent."
“The anger and sadness he caused continue to this day. As we've said since the moment he was fired, his abuses should never have happened," Oppenheim wrote. "Ronan Farrow's book takes that undeniable fact and twists it into a lie — alleging we were a 'company with a lot of secrets.' We have no secrets and nothing to hide."
Oppenheim went on to call Farrow’s book a “conspiracy theory” and a “smear.” Farrow himself has stood firmly behind the reporting in his book, and said in an interview with NPR that “there are systems still in place at some of the top institutions in this country that aid and abet and protect people accused of serious crimes and silence accusers and shut down reporting.”