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Amazon Studios cuts ties with Weinstein Co. following Harvey Weinstein sex scandal

Amazon Studios cuts ties with Weinstein Co. following Harvey Weinstein sex scandal
A high-profile project from filmmaker David O. Russell was abandoned Friday when Amazon Studios cut ties with the company. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Amazon Studios on Friday severed ties with the Weinstein Co. in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal engulfing Harvey Weinstein's struggling production company.

The move means a high-profile television project from Oscar-nominated director David O. Russell ("American Hustle" and "Silver Linings Playbook") no longer will be made. Amazon had ordered two seasons of the untitled drama, which would have brought together on screen actors Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore. The show's budget was rumored to be a pricey $160 million for the two seasons.

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The filmmakers on Friday announced the project was dead.

"We support Amazon's decision in light of recent news and out of respect for all those affected we have decided together that it is best to not move forward with this show," read a statement from Russell, De Niro and Moore.

Amazon, however, plans to continue with a second show it was co-producing with the Weinstein Co., this one from writer-producer Matthew Weiner. His show — "The Romanoffs" — will go forward but without the involvement of the Weinstein Co., according to a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to comment.

Weiner was the force behind AMC's "Mad Men," and his latest project — an eight-episode anthology — already was well into production.

Amazon's decision is the latest blow to the Weinstein Co., which is reeling from the fallout of the sexual harassment scandal that has clouded the company's future. More than 30 women — including such high-wattage stars as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd — have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually harassing them. A spokesperson for Weinstein has said the movie and television mogul "unequivocally denied" that he had sex with women without their consent.

The Weinstein Co.'s board has been divided over whether to sell the business in whole or in pieces. Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs said Friday it is exploring options for what to do with its small stake in the movie and TV company. Apple has already dropped a planned Elvis series from the Weinstein Co., and Hachette Book Group, one of the country's top publishers, said Thursday that it has "terminated" its arrangement with Weinstein Books.

Amazon's move to cut ties with the New York-based production company comes 24 hours after the e-commerce giant announced that it was suspending the head of its Santa Monica-based TV and movie studio, Roy Price. He has been accused of sexual harassment by Isa Hackett, a producer on a prominent show. On Thursday, Amazon said that Price had been placed on an indefinite leave of absence.

In a memo to employees on Friday, Amazon senior vice president of business development Jeff Blackburn said, "Amazon does not tolerate harassment or abuse of our employees or our business partners."

UPDATES:

7:34 p.m. This article was updated with more information about the Weinstein Co. projects that were being produced in conjunction with Amazon Studios.

This article was originally published at 6:30 p.m.

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