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Delaware Judge To Decide Who Gets Weinstein Company's Film And TV Assets

May 8, 2018
Originally published on May 8, 2018 8:20 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sabotage, sexual assault and Oscar-winning films are not the usual stuff of bankruptcy proceedings, but all of those came to the forefront in the case of The Weinstein Company, formerly owned by the disgraced Hollywood producer and currently held by, among others, his brother, Bob, at least until a few hours ago. That's when a bankruptcy judge in Delaware decided who will buy the company.

NPR's Andrew Limbong is at the courthouse in Wilmington. He joins us now. And, Andrew, I understand that this had a rather large audience for a bankruptcy hearing.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Yeah, a lot more people in the audience than usual for your, you know, run-of-the-mill bankruptcy hearings. There were about a hundred lawyers in the room, if not more. There had to be a special runoff room put aside because they ended up running out of seats. You know, there were just tons of lawyers, lawyers representing banks and debtors, lawyers representing The Weinstein Company and potential buyers, lawyers representing movie studios and a committee that included victims of Harvey Weinstein's, you know, alleged sexual abuse and lawyers including people representing Eminem.

And so after a few hours of back-and-forth between different lawyers, Judge Mary Walrath approved the sale to Lantern Capital Partners. They're a Texas-based private equity firm, and the price tag was about 310 million in cash minus some hundred million in liabilities.

CORNISH: And Lantern was the group that The Weinstein Company had wanted to buy them. The judge ignored another last-minute bid. Is that right?

LIMBONG: Yeah, so The Weinstein Company announced Lantern Capital as the winning bidders last week. Lantern doesn't have any experience in movies. They're more like a shipping company. But it really - you know, all of this wasn't up to The Weinstein Company. It was up to the judge to decide whether this was a legitimate sale.

There was a different last-minute bid from Inclusion Media. That's led by Howard Kagan. He's a Broadway producer. He had the backing of a group of Harvey Weinstein's victims who have filed a class-action lawsuit against Weinstein. And that's because Kagan's bid included a victims' compensation fund, which the Lantern bid does not. It's very important to note. But in the end, the judge declared that Lantern had the best shot at protecting The Weinstein Company's assets.

CORNISH: What about those assets? What exactly is left, and how did the new owners go about protecting them?

LIMBONG: The company holds a library of movies. You know, that includes "The King's Speech" and "Silver Linings Playbook" and some TV shows like "Project Runway." They're essentially protecting themselves by distancing themselves from the Weinstein name because the Weinstein name is pretty toxic in Hollywood these days.

CORNISH: Now, what does all this mean for the women who were victims of Harvey Weinstein?

LIMBONG: For this very specific and particular business aspect of the Weinstein story, not much. Like I said, the victims' compensation fund - there is not one included in this bid. For what it's worth, Lantern Capital says that they, you know, will try to foster a more inclusive workplace. You know, Harvey Weinstein was fired from the company last October after dozens of women came forward to accuse him of rape and sexual assault and other sorts of misconduct. And he's still the target of multiple criminal investigations, which is a whole separate deal than what's going on here.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Andrew Limbong in Wilmington, Del. Andrew, thank you.

LIMBONG: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.