As more allegations spill out about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct against women in Hollywood, the phrase “open secret” is being tossed around quite a bit. People in the entertainment industry have gossiped about Weinstein’s behavior for years, even though it’s just now being discussed in public after the New York Times and New Yorker investigations, as A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd are on the record describing disturbing experiences.
Much earlier, Weinstein’s reputation was already referenced quite openly in pop culture — and it was no secret about what TV writers thought of him.
The HBO comedy and Hollywood parody had a brief but memorable arc in the mid-2000s with a character named “Harvey Weingard,” an over-the-top terrifying producer who was a very loosely veiled version of Weinstein. (The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Weinstein was initially not a fan and that he told star Kevin Connolly that the producers were “dead” if they mentioned him again.)
On the show, Harvey was portrayed as an extremely influential, verbally abusive power player who threatened to end people’s careers if he didn’t get his way. He went ballistic on Vince (Adrian Grenier) and the guys when they changed their minds about a movie deal.
On NBC’s “30 Rock,” actress Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) could always be counted on for a random tidbit about her past with celebrities — there were jokes about how she dated O.J. Simpson or was engaged to David Blaine. In a March 2012 episode, Jenna was furious that “Weird Al” Yankovic was parodying one of her songs. Her co-star, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), tells her that it’s a bad idea to mess with Weird Al.
“Oh, please, I’m not afraid of anyone in show business,” Jenna says. “I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions. Out of five.”
The next season, it comes up again as Jenna consoles Kenneth the page (Jack McBrayer) about his love interest.
“I know how former lovers can have a hold over you long after they’re gone,” she says. “In some ways, I’m still pinned under a passed-out Harvey Weinstein, and it’s Thanksgiving.”
Weinstein was known to do everything in his power to secure Oscar nominations for his movies. In Tuesday’s bombshell New York Times piece that featured quotes from Paltrow and Jolie, the story reminded everyone that in 2013, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane cracked a joke about this while announcing the Oscar nominees for best supporting actress: “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” MacFarlane and his announcing partner, Emma Stone, paused as the audience cracked up at that one.