Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is profiled on "Frontline: Weinstein."

Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is profiled on "Frontline: Weinstein." Credit: Reuters

THE DOCUMENTARY “Frontline: Weinstein”

WHEN | WHERE Friday at 9 p.m. on WNET/13

WHAT IT’S ABOUT On the eve of the 90th Academy Awards, “Frontline,” in association with BBC Current Affairs, offers what it is calling “TV’s first post-scandal documentary” on former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct — and, in some instances, rape — by more than 100 women. The program speaks to actresses Katherine Kendall and Sean Young, model Zoe Brock, former Weinstein assistant Zelda Perkins and former head of physical production at Weinstein Co. Tom Prince, who describe patterns of abuse that stretch back decades. Oscar winner and veteran film producer Cathy Schulman says, “There is so much more to discover.”

MY SAY This “Frontline” is for any viewer who knows absolutely nothing about the Weinstein debacle. He or she should prepare to be shocked by what they are about to see.

But like unicorns or free lunches, such a viewer doesn’t really exist. We all know something about this story, and the colossal cultural fallout that launched the #MeToo movement. Back on Dec. 5, The New York Times, which broke the Weinstein story wide open, published a mop-up story headlined “The Complicity Machine” that offered exhaustive details about a decades-long cover-up that (even) implicated the Clinton campaign. Friday’s “Weinstein” doesn’t advance a single word, nor so much as mention the political angle.

It does promise “insiders speaking out for the first time,” but that turns out to be somewhat chimerical, too. Perkins has spoken out before, and so has former Miramax production head Paul Webster. Brock and Kendall, both plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last fall, have as well.

Now that we’ve cleared away this underbrush, is “Weinstein” still worth watching? Absolutely, because it does a serviceable mop-up job itself, notably as a reminder that powerful people with crimes to hide can deploy all sorts of ingenious tricks to cover their tracks. As “Frontline” notes, Weinstein wielded the so-called “NDA” — or nondisclosure agreement — in dozens of instances, which kept the news media at bay for years. He hired an Israeli intelligence operation, Black Cube, to dig up incriminating information on accusers or potential ones. He worked the news media in various tradeout agreements, by exchanging scoops for silence. How often this actually worked is left unsaid here, but the silence of the past three decades is hardly exculpatory to the press.

In fact, NDAs or tradeouts aside, how did Weinstein maintain this code of silence for so long? Surely not everyone signed an NDA, nor did every reporter look the other way. (Two first-rate veterans, Kim Masters and Ken Auletta — both quoted here — certainly didn’t.) A sober truth, or at least suspicion, emerges: It was in the industry’s best interest to look the other way. Oscars were at stake. Other reputations, too. This Sunday’s ceremony already feels a little more jaded.

BOTTOM LINE Nothing new here, but a decent overview.

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