Harvey Weinstein Sexual Harassment Scandal Sees Rounders Actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in Defense Mode, Affleck Admits He Groped

It’s been a rough week for Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Not only has he lost both his job and wife after The New York Times and The New Yorker ran scathing exposés detailing decades of sexual harassment, but the blowback is impacting others with ties to the poker community, including actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon of Rounders fame, who have both played poker in real life also.

Harvey Weinstein (middle) helped build the careers of Ben Affleck (left) and Matt Damon (right), but this week’s scathing sexual misconduct allegations have come back on both of them too, with Affleck being struck with his own past misdeeds. (Image: People)

Downfall of a Kingpin

Allegations of rape, abuse, and harassment, which have come from interns all of the way up to high-profile actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, quickly knocked one of Hollywood’s power players away from his perch at The Weinstein Company, which he founded with his brother Bob Weinstein.

Miramax Films, which was responsible for the cult poker classic Rounders were established by the brothers. Other films include Gangs of New York, Shakespeare in Love, and Pulp Fiction. They produced Good Will Hunting, starring Ben Affleck and stars Matt Damon, both of whom have come under fire in recent days.

The laundry list of allegations, many of which Weinstein has since conceded to, basically boil down to the intimation that for three years he used his power and influence to coerce interns, aspiring actresses, along with other girls in the industry to perform his sexual bidding in the hopes that he would further their careers.

Rumors about Weinstein have dropped for years in Hollywood. The producer that was hefty reached settlements in the past with accusers. Such transgressions were highlighted in a file in The Weinstein Company.

Lately, reports surfaced that Harvey Weinstein believed after leaking that file to The New York Times his brother was responsible for his downfall.

“My Lady Harvey is clearly a very sick man,” Bob Weinstein told celebrity gossip show TMZ in response. “I’ve urged him to seek immediate professional help because he is in desperate need of it. Apologies and his remorse to the victims of his abuse are hollow. He said he would go away for help and has yet to do so.”

The Poker-Actor Connection

According to NYT reporter Sharon Waxman, Damon was among those who helped shut down a 2004 article she had written about the misconduct of Weinstein. She alleges Damon called her directly and used his influence to get the paper to remove some of the scandalous details.

As a result, both Rose McGowan and Jessica Chastain, the latter of whom stars as Molly Bloom in following month’s poker film Molly’s Game, publicly decreed him an enabler. The NYT and both Damon have denied the allegations, and the former even published a statement which Waxman later endorsed.

In it, Damon admits to making a telephone call at the behest of Harvey Weinstein, but said it was done without his own knowledge of the situation. Damon claimed that he only chose to associate his experience working with Fabrizio Lombardo, who ran the Italian office of Miramax and was recently alleged to have procured women for Weinstein.

“My recollection was that it was about a one-minute phone call. Harvey had called me and said, they’re writing a story about Fabrizio, who I knew from The Talented Mr. Ripley,” said Damon. “Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it’s really negative. Would you just call and tell her what your experience with Fabrizio was. So I did, and that’s what I said to her.”

Similarly, Affleck, who played the villain in the 2013 poker flick Runner Runner (not a Weinstein Company production), found himself in the crosshairs this week after sending out a tweet condemning Harvey Weinstein. McGowan responded with accusations that Affleck even warned her of it in the past and was aware. After first telling the star to “f**k off” in a tweet, she later posted:

“@benaffleck ‘GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT’ you said that to my face. The media conf I was made to go to after attack. You lie.”

Comment further or has yet to respond to McGowan.

But Affleck is now facing his bad boy crisis, which broke on Wednesday as the tentacles of the saga threatened to bring down half of Hollywood. After admitting to an on-camera incident in 2003, in which he groped 21-year-old and then-MTV Total Request Live host Hilarie Burton’s breast, Affleck tweeted out this afternoon, “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”

The day before, McGowan had raked Damon over the coals as well with this particular tweet: “Hey @mattdamon  what is it like to be a spineless profiteer who stays silent?”

Denials and Slams

In another poker connection, Gretchen Mol, who costarred in Rounders, penned a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter in which she addressed long-standing rumors about her interactions with the fallen manufacturer.

“No. I did not exchange sexual favors with Harvey Weinstein, or anybody, for progress in my career,” Mol wrote. “I was never paid any settlement. The reality is that I’ve never been alone in a room with Harvey Weinstein … This is in no way a defense of this person, it’s merely a statement of fact.”

Finally, Brian Koppelman, who along with David Levien wrote the screenplays for both Rounders and Runner Runner, took to Twitter to provide his own two cents on the situation: “Harvey Weinstein made my 1st movie. He lied to me and also bullied. I didn’t realize until now that was the good treatment.”

According to sources, after Georgina Chapman, his wife of ten years and the mother of his two children, revealed her intention to leave him, Harvey Weinstein flew night to attend a gender rehabilitation program. He’s made.

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