Director Rob Reiner said he has never worked with embattled movie producer Harvey Weinstein in a show business capacity, and that he had no idea about the allegations against Weinstein now making their way through Tinseltown.
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But Reiner had been warned that Weinstein was “difficult” to work with, he said.
“Filmmakers would tell me: ‘You don’t ever want to work with Harvey Weinstein. He’s a bully. He’s impossible.’ I never knew the sexual stuff,” Reiner said on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.
And while Reiner, 70, applauds social media’s #MeToo movement, which has allowed women to share their sexual assault experiences in general, he says, “It’s going to take men” to stop the problem.
“There’s more Harvey Weinsteins in Hollywood. There’s more Harvey Weinsteins in business, in broadcasting, in politics,” Reiner said of the man whom a number of women, including some A-list celebrities, have targeted with sexual harassment and assault allegations.
“I think the men have to be the allies. … You’re going to have to come forward and say: ‘That’s not appropriate. You’re not allowed to do that,’” Reiner said, adding that he has a daughter.
“Women are up against impossible odds. That’s why they don’t come forward for ten, twenty, thirty years … whether it’s Harvey Weinstein, or Fox News, or with [Bill] Cosby — any of them.”
Reiner also pointed to President Donald Trump, who faced allegations of sexual harassment or assault from roughly a dozen women during the presidential campaign.
A spokesperson for Weinstein has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex, in a statement to The New Yorker.
Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations by the women who came forward during the campaign.
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Trump and LBJ
In Reiner’s latest biopic, “LBJ,” President Lyndon B. Johnson is portrayed by Woody Harrelson. Harrelson’s Johnson is insecure and lewd. Reiner has thought a lot about how the 36th president stacks up to the current commander in chief.
“The difference is one knows how government works and knows how to get things done,” Reiner said. “The other one is just profane and crass. He does not have those other skills.”
The 2016 film shows Johnson as a legislative “workhorse” and powerful Senate majority leader who struggles, first losing the party nomination, then becoming a powerless vice president at odds with the popular JFK.
After President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson takes on the mantle of power determined to do right by history. At the film’s close, Johnson is seizing the moment to push the Civil Rights Act that Kennedy had championed.
Tale of 2 presidents
“From a domestic standpoint, except for maybe FDR, you have the most successful domestic policy agenda of any president,” Reiner said.
“It is staggering the accomplishments that he had made between Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Head Start; it goes on and on.”
And while the film portrays President Johnson in a sympathetic light, Reiner wasn’t always appreciative of the man who failed to lead the country out of the Vietnam War.
“I hated LBJ. I was of draft age during the Vietnam War and I was against the war. … I changed my view of him,” Reiner said. “Had it not been for the Vietnam War, he would have gone done as one of the greatest presidents of all time.”
Archie Bunker on the Trump train?
Before Reiner directed classics including “Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Spinal Tap,” he was introduced to America as the Meathead character in the 1970s’ sitcom “All in the Family.”
Reiner says Michael “Meathead” Stivic would also have a distaste for President Trump. But the Archie Bunker character might have donned a “Make America Great Again” cap.
“No question about it; he’s voting for Trump,” Reiner said of the character portrayed by the late Carroll O’Connor.
“And we would be in incredible fights. Mike and Archie would be fighting tooth and nail about Trump.”