The summer before the Harvey Weinstein sex assault scandal broke, Lisa Bloom’s track record as a celebrity attorney fighting for women’s rights was rising.
The attorney who famously represented Janice Dickinson in her rape allegation against Bill Cosby had secured Blac Chyna a restraining order against ex-boyfriend Rob Kardashian after he posted explicit revenge porn photos on social media. Before that, Bloom went to court to prevent the ex-boyfriend of The O.C. star Mischa Barton from distributing a sex tape. And she had come to the aid of comedian Kathy Griffin to push back against what she alleged was bullying from the Trump family after the comedian’s controversial photo of her holding the fake severed head of the president.
She was also instrumental in helping a client bring claims against former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
Then on Oct. 5, the New York Times published its report detailing allegations by multiple women, including actor Ashley Judd, that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted and harassed them over the years.
The story was for many a confirmation of what had been an open secret in Hollywood, so it came as a surprise to those who knew Bloom when the Times cited her as an attorney advising Weinstein, who denied “many of the accusations as patently false.” She also referred to Weinstein as “an old dinosaur learning new ways,” apparently referring to her role coaching him in gender and power dynamics.
Bloom, 56, now admits that doing so was “a colossal mistake.”
Criticism of the self-styled champion of women’s rights quickly hit a fever pitch.
“I can see that my just being associated with this was a mistake,” Bloom said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “All I can say is, from my perspective, I thought, ‘Here is my chance to get to the root of the problem from the inside. I am usually on the outside throwing stones. Here is my chance to be in the inside and to get a guy to handle this thing in a different way.’ I thought that would be a positive thing, but clearly it did not go over at all.”
In fact, it got worse, particularly from an attorney-client perspective. The next day, during an appearance on Good Morning America, she appeared to acknowledge that Weinstein had engaged in illegal behavior.
“It’s gross, yeah,” Bloom told GMA. “I’m working with a guy who has behaved badly over the years, who is genuinely remorseful, who says, you know, ‘I have caused a lot of pain.’”
(For her part, Bloom insisted she misunderstood the question and flubbed the answer, but said, “it is there, I can’t change it.”)
Meanwhile, criticism of Bloom’s adviser role grew louder. Even her mother, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, said in a statement that had she been asked to join Weinstein’s legal team, “I would have declined, because I do not represent individuals accused of sex harassment.”
Others called out her financial connection to The Weinstein Company, which had been planning to turn her book on Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, into a miniseries.
That, combined with her GMA appearance and an email obtained by HuffPost in which she referred to the likelihood of “more and different reporting” in response to the Times, including “photos of several of the accusers in very friendly poses with Harvey after his alleged misconduct,” was reportedly too much for Weinstein Company board members and Bloom resigned that Saturday.
Four days later, on Oct. 10, The New Yorker followed with its own report detailing more sexual assault allegations, this time including rape. In the days that followed, even more women, many of them actors and industry workers, have come forward with similar allegations against Weinstein, roiling Hollywood.
For her part, Bloom said that when she agreed to help Weinstein with his anger and bombastic workplace attitude, she was totally unaware of the sexual misconduct rumors. So as the news reports piled up, she was “absolutely shocked.”
“I am not an actress…this may be something that they knew about, but I did not,” Bloom said. “Before all this became public, there were plenty of people who thought he was a great guy. So we have to be careful about looking at things in hindsight. I think many people who worked with him did not know.”
She also defended herself against any insinuation that she had suggested going after Harvey accusers in her email to Weinstein Company board members.
“What I said is, there will be more and different reporting, there will be photos, etc. Because — and this was the email I sent on Thursday, it just got reported later — Thursday was the day the NYT broke, and every news outlet in the world was contacting us with, ‘We have photos, we have information, we have this and we have this, and what are your comments,’” Bloom said. “We knew this was going to be a huge news story and people were going to approach it from a lot of different angles, and what I advocated in the two emails, which you can read in full in the Huffington Post, was let Harvey go get help, do a full investigation, get to the bottom of these allegations….I didn’t think that would be controversial.”
Bloom also denied that she had tried to keep the New York Times or New Yorker from publishing their stories, calling any report or rumor to the contrary totally false.
“I don’t threaten people. That is about all I can say,” she said. “Let’s just keep in mind that Harvey has a large team. I can speak for what I did, but I can’t speak for what other people might have done.”
This week, however, Kim Masters, editor-at-large for The Hollywood Reporter, alleged Bloom had tried to quash a story about sexual harassment allegations against former client Roy Price, the chief of Amazon Studios, as it was shopped to various media outlets earlier this year.
Masters alleges Bloom sent emails to media executives and editors claiming to have proof that the journalist had approached Price and Amazon for money to support her radio show on KCRW, and so had ulterior motives.
The alleged proof, she added, never materialized as one media company after another turned down the story.
“I don’t know who made up that story, I just know that she repeated it to multiple outlets,” Masters told BuzzFeed News, adding that she thought Bloom was trying to set the stage for a defamation lawsuit.
The Information website eventually published the story. Then, on Thursday, Masters published an on-the-record interview in The Hollywood Reporter with the Amazon producer making the allegations against Price. He was placed on leave hours later.
Bloom, who no longer represents Price, declined to comment on Masters’ allegations.
But she’s taking the long view regarding the overall impact the Weinstein debacle has had on her image and career. Bloom said that for all the heat she took online, she’s also had a ton of support and encouragement, especially from former clients.
“Social media is not the world, it is just where people feel free to vent their anger,” she said.
She also acknowledged that “there is definitely a rift with my mother now.” But there have been signs, at least on Facebook, of Allred trying to make amends for her initial statement (which Bloom said was issued without a private call between the two beforehand).
“I would like to say that my daughter Lisa Bloom is and always has been a champion for women's rights,” Allred posted Friday afternoon, adding: “Nothing that has happened in the recent past has altered my views of Lisa's commitment to protecting and advancing women's rights.”
Bloom said she also learned some hard lessons and will no longer represent men accused of sexual misconduct, “even those who convincingly tell me they are innocent.”
“I will just make the best choices I can out of every situation,” she said. “I have clearly not been successful. I think anybody who does big bold things fails. And I definitely failed on this one.”
Claudia Rosenbaum is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Claudia Rosenbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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