A biography of Harvey Weinstein including how he rose to become a dominant figure in the film world, how he used that position to feed his monstrous sexual appetites, and how it all came crashing down, from the author who has covered the Hollywood and media power game for The New Yorker for three decades.
The well-connected Auletta draws on the work of those journalists and his own interviews with major players, including many surely fascinating hours with the beleaguered brother Bob. As for Harvey, he emails some terse responses to questions, and his representatives haggle over possible interview conditions before ghosting his biographer — but Hollywood Ending also mines an extensive profile Auletta wrote of him 20 years ago, and its outtakes ... Going along for the ride of Weinstein’s slow rise and fall, even with the able Auletta at one’s side, can feel even more dispiriting, like getting on one of those creaky roller coasters at a faded municipal playland.
... deeply researched ... Auletta is perhaps most effective when describing the inner workings of Miramax ... The author succeeds in his goal of conveying that Weinstein had talent and was 'more than a monster'. But Auletta’s attempt to discover the 'hole in [Weinstein’s] psyche' that compelled him to such monstrous behaviour comes up short.
Auletta certainly does not ignore the victims...But in hunting for Weinstein’s 'Rosebud,' Auletta both aggrandizes the monstrous mogul (by analogizing his megalomania to Citizen Kane) and extends the cultural conversation around the perpetrator and what makes him tick ... Who cares? As anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie knows, ex post facto explanations of the monster’s pathology are beside the point ... Like all of Auletta’s work, Hollywood Ending is thoroughly researched and eminently readable. Auletta is a highly skilled journalist whose ability to assemble compelling narratives from scores of sources helps him craft well-rounded characters and juicy prose ... By exploring Harvey’s relationship with his brother and other men, Auletta humanizes the monster, which makes his approach feel fundamentally misguided ... Auletta admirably addresses that shortcoming in his book and praises Kantor, Twohey and Farrow for eventually breaking the story he couldn’t. Yet Hollywood Ending persists in emphasizing the same bullying behavior Auletta uncovered in 2002: temper tantrums, verbal abuse of staff and colleagues, and profligate eating, smoking and spending. Perhaps this is the Harvey that Auletta knows best, or perhaps Auletta is quietly reasserting the significance of his 2002 profile and the revelations it contained...Either way, I found myself wondering why I should care about Weinstein’s corporate power struggles ... a finely crafted biography of an ignominious sexual predator. It is not a prurient book, yet I could never stop questioning its approach to its subject. Like most true-crime reporting, it exists because women suffered. Yet its main topic is neither those survivors nor the noble reporters and prosecutors who ended a monster’s reign of terror. It is, still, the monster himself ... So read Hollywood Ending if you’re interested in how power is amassed and exploited in the U.S. film industry, but don’t read it expecting answers about sexual violence or how to stop it. The monster has nothing to teach you.