Harvey Weinstein scandal: Another legal team shakeup, more fallout ahead

Hollywood is saying good riddance to Harvey Weinstein.

So now what?

Weinstein is laying low, not commenting on his expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His former company is trying to stay afloat. And his attorneys are preparing for criminal investigations and lawsuits.

On CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” former The Hollywood Reporter editor Janice Min reported that attorney Charles Harder, who she called the “Darth Vader of media,” is no longer working with Weinstein. She said this represented a shift in Weinstein’s legal strategy — from challenging news organizations to preparing to defend himself in criminal investigations. Harder did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNNMoney.

Weinstein has at least two criminal defense attorneys, Blair Berk and David Chesnoff, in his camp.

The Weinstein scandal has been deeply embarrassing not only for the Weinstein Company but for the entertainment industry writ large.

The Academy booted him on Saturday. The Producers Guild of America is expected to discuss Weinstein’s status at a meeting on Monday. The Television Academy, which oversees the Emmy Awards, is expected to do the same on Thursday.

“Our view has been this alleged behavior is abhorrent and appalling. We expect this to be discussed at our Board Of Governors meeting this Thursday evening,” the TV Academy said in a statement.

In Hollywood, an outpouring of actors and others, as well as women’s advocates outside the industry, are asking how the recent stunning disclosures can translate to meaningful change.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co.’s next film, “The Current War,” was supposed to come out in November, but it has now been delayed to early 2018.

And its forthcoming TV projects with Amazon have been scrapped.

“We no longer plan on moving forward with the David O. Russell Project” that was in development at Weinstein Co., Amazon said Friday. “As for ‘The Romanoffs,’ we intend to move forward without the involvement of Weinstein,” a spokesman said.

The company may be sold off in pieces.

“My opinion is that The Weinstein Company as it sits today, is done,” the company’s chief operating officer, David Glasser, said to Deadline. “The reality is, in its current form, the name, the brand has been completely torpedoed and destroyed. I do feel there are probably other incarnations we have to look at.”

Harvey’s brother Bob Weinstein sounded more bullish in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter — even while many staffers are pessimistic.

He said the company’s bankers are “supporting us” and “there is a plan to come out on the other side. And also the other side that makes the public rightfully feel happy that what Harvey stood for exists no longer. The public deserves that. The victims deserve that. Everybody deserves that.”

Bob Weinstein also confirmed that the company is working on a name change.

“And it won’t be familial,” he said, “I promise you that.”

Follow this story

Caribbean tourism faces long road to recovery

The Caribbean is fast approaching tourism season. But this year, some of the islands may not see their vital economic lifeblood.

Several islands are still recovering from the one-two punch delivered by hurricanes Irma and Maria, which razed buildings, knocked out communications and killed dozens of people.

It’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage, said Justin Ram, the director of economics for the Caribbean Development Bank.

Ram said even a 1 percent drop in visitors could mean the region loses out on about $138 million those tourists would have otherwise spent. In the long term, that could mean a $214 million hit to the region’s GDP.

“That’s just from a 1 percent drop,” he said.

There is some reason to be optimistic, said Hugh Riley, the secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. About 75 percent of the region escaped the storms unscathed.

The airport on St. Martin, an island pummeled by Irma, reopened Tuesday. Local restaurants on Anguilla are taking business, too.

Similarly Jose Izquierdo, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a public company that markets and regulates tourism on the island, says the territory is already rebuilding. San Juan’s airport and cruise ports are operational, and he expects many local hotels to start taking new reservations.

Izquierdo said cruise liners like Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises are scheduling trips out of the harbor.

“It’s a sign that there’s some sense of normality to operations here in Puerto Rico,” he added.

While tourism operations may be reemerging, residents are still suffering.

Riley said some islanders are still without electricity or a viable banking system. Food, water and even shelter can be scarce.

“They are still dealing with day-to-day real life survival and nutrition experiences,” Riley said.

On the island of Dominica, roofs on at least 80 percent of the island’s buildings were torn off by Maria. Heavy rainwater made the asphalt roads crumble.

John Collin McIntyre, Dominica’s minister for planning, economic development and investment, said he’s experienced that devastation firsthand. He’s spoken to people on the island who have lost homes or family members and are now trying to recover and rebuild. And he said a crucial part of that process will be figuring out how Dominica can find its economic footing.

The damage costs will almost certainly be enormous. A storm that hit the island two years ago, called Erika, caused around $500 million in damage.

That was a tropical storm, not a Category 5 hurricane. And it didn’t swallow the entire island, as Maria did.

McIntyre said Dominica could start welcoming tourists as early as January, three months after tourism season began.

After agriculture, tourism is one of the island’s most important industries. It contributed about $180 million to Dominica’s economy last year, or about 34 percent of its GDP, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

That’s just a sliver of what’s ultimately a huge economic driver for an entire region. The council reported that 23 Caribbean nations and territories raked in $56 billion from travel and tourism last year, or about 15 percent of the area’s total GDP.

Follow this story

Motion Picture Academy board to consider kicking out Harvey Weinstein

Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, Laura Dern, Steven Spielberg and Rory Kennedy are among the 54 power players who will decide Harvey Weinstein’s fate in Hollywood on Saturday.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, says Weinstein’s alleged behavior is “repugnant.” So the academy’s oversight body, the Board of Governors, will meet on Saturday and possibly hold a vote to strip Weinstein’s membership.

There is a push to expel Weinstein from the academy, three sources told CNN on condition of anonymity.

There has also been talk in some circles about taking away Weinstein’s Oscar statue, although this is believed to be unlikely.

The academy said in a statement that the meeting’s purpose is to “discuss the allegations against Weinstein and any actions warranted by the Academy.”

Recent stories from The New York Times and The New Yorker forced Weinstein’s conduct into the open. He stands accused of rape by four women. Dozens of other women have lodged allegations of assault or harassment.

The scandal has been deeply embarrassing not just for the Weinstein Co., but for the entertainment industry writ large.

Now all eyes are on the academy’s Board of Governors to see what they decide.

Sources tell CNN that the board members are feeling the pressure that accompanies such a momentous decision. Many members have been getting in touch with board members to express various opinions.

It is a “watershed moment,” one of the sources said.

The board includes famous actors, acclaimed writers, directors, producers, and executives. There are 17 branches representing the film world — makeup artists, casting directors, designers, P.R. professionals — with three representatives each, plus three at-large members.

Some of the board members, like Spielberg, are household names.

Others, like Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos, aren’t celebrities, but hold considerable sway in Hollywood.

It is a very powerful group. One of the sources said the public faces on the board, in particular, will personally want to be seen as “doing the right thing” and getting ahead of the issue.

The academy’s bylaws include a provision that says, “Any member of the Academy may be suspended or expelled for cause by the Board of Governors. Expulsion or suspension as herein provided for shall require the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of all the Governors.”

But controversial figures like Roman Polanski and Mel Gibson were not kicked out of the organization during their own scandals.

In fact, Polanski won an Oscar decades after he pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. (He fled the United States before he could be sentenced, and authorities in the U.S. have had a warrant for his arrest since 1978.)

The man who is thought to have been the only person ever kicked out of the Academy lost his membership because he shared screeners of Oscar-nominated movies, copies of which were eventually put online.

Weinstein has shepherded numerous films to Oscar victories, but he only has one statue personally: a 1999 win for producing “Shakespeare in Love.”

The academy is not the only Hollywood group convening to discuss the Weinstein scandal.

The Producers Guild of America will also reconsider his status at a meeting on Saturday.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA, has already suspended Weinstein’s membership.

–CNN’s Jamie Gangel contributed reporting.

Follow this story

Zappos offers to help cover funeral costs of every Las Vegas victim

Zappos wants to help cover funeral costs for families who lost loved ones in the October 1 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival.

“We’re working directly with families who need immediate assistance with funeral costs,” Zappos representative Joanna Hass said on Friday. “This could include anything directly related to the burial, including transportation (both in and out of state), casket, flower arrangements, etc.”

After the massacre, the Nevada-based online retailer started a fund to assist victims and vowed to match up to $1 million in donations. So far, it has raised more than $390,000 using the fundraising site CrowdRise.

The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history left 59 people dead, including the gunman, and more than 500 injured.

“We came to realize that as we’re raising money for this fund… [the victims] don’t get paid out exactly as needed,” said Steven Bautista, head of Zappos’ charity group Zappos for Good. To fill the gap between immediate needs and long-term assistance. the company decided to help families who couldn’t cover funeral costs themselves.

Bautista estimates that Zappos has worked with nine families so far and expects more to get in touch in the coming days. He encourages anyone struggling to give loved ones a proper sendoff to reach out to zapposforgood@zappos.com.

The retailer said that it has been paying vendors directly to help pay for funerals, and that the money being used is separate from the original fund.

Other individuals and groups have been eager to help victims of the shooting. A GoFundMe campaign has so far raised more than $10.7 million for victims.

Follow this story

Uber will still operate in Quebec — for now

Uber isn’t pulling out of Quebec just yet.

The ride-hailing giant on Friday said it will continue to operate in the Canadian province for now. The company previously said it would exit Quebec on Saturday unless new regulations were changed.

But the appointment of a new transport minister could give Uber a new opportunity to negotiate with the Quebec government.

“With the recent appointment of Minister André Fortin at the Ministry of Transport, we recognize that there is an opportunity to establish a constructive dialogue aimed at finding a lasting solution for riders and drivers in Quebec,” Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, Uber’s General Manager in Quebec, said in a statement to CNN Tech.

The company has been operating in the province during the past year under a government pilot project. Quebec renewed the project for another year with stricter requirements. For example, the province wants drivers to complete 35 hours of training, which Uber said was not feasible for many of its drivers who work part time and have other jobs.

However, the new training requirements will not be initiated for a few months.

“We are committed to working with the government over this period. In the meantime, we will continue to serve Quebecers,” Guillemette said.

Quebec’s transport ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcement comes as Uber is appealing London’s decision to pull its license. London’s transport authority said Uber was not “fit and proper” to operate in the city, citing the company’s approach to reporting serious criminal offenses among other reasons.

The ride-hailing company is allowed to keep operating in the city while the courts decide whether its license should be renewed.

Follow this story

Holiday hiring is getting more difficult for retailers

Seasonal workers are as much a part of the holiday season as Christmas carols and colored lights. But this year, retailers and other businesses that depend on those workers are finding it tougher to find the help they need.

After years of steadily increasing the number of seasonal workers it brings on, Amazon is not increasing its temporary work force for the first time on record. At Walmart, the nation’s largest private sector employer, the retail giant is not even hiring extra help this holiday season. Instead it plans to make due by giving extra hours to its army of existing workers.

Part of the reason is that there just aren’t as many people looking for work this year. Unemployment fell to a 16-year low of 4.2% in September, considered to be pretty much full employment by most economists. The Labor Department also estimates that there are 6.1 million unfilled job openings nationwide, according to its most recent reading, virtually unchanged from the record level reached earlier this summer. More than one in ten of those unfilled jobs are in the retail sector.

As unemployment falls, retailers will find it more and more difficult to find the number of qualified workers they need to fill temporary jobs, said Greg Portell, lead partner in retail with consultant A.T. Kearney. While some might be able to give extra hours to their existing part-time staff, as Walmart is doing, that’s not always a simple thing to do.

Many part-time workers have multiple jobs to get the hours they need and they can’t add hours at one job on only a temporary basis. Others are working part-time because that works best for their family situation. The number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time work has fallen by nearly 250,000 people in just the last year, according to the Labor Department.

Some employers looking for help during the upcoming holidays are having to sweeten the package they offer. United Parcel Service, which is planning to bring on the same 95,000 seasonal workers as it has the last two years, is now offering hiring bonuses that can amount to an extra $200 a week, depending upon the location.

“It’s something we started in recent years when the economy upticked,” said Paul Tanguay, global director of recruitment strategy at UPS. “I think it’s a challenge for everybody to find the workers they need. It’s going to come at a higher cost and a greater competitive challenge to attract the talent.”

Walmart wouldn’t comment on how its decision not to hire seasonal workers was affected by the tighter labor market. It said it wanted to reward its existing employees with extra hours and pay. The retailer has raised pay levels several times in recent years and taken other steps to cut down on turnover among its 1.5 million U.S. employees.

Similarly an Amazon spokesperson said she couldn’t speak to how it has been affected by the tighter labor market when it left the hiring target of 120,000 holiday workers unchanged. She did say the need for temporary workers was reduced after the company filled 50,000 open positions during a jobs day in August.

For brick-and-mortar retailers, the difficulty in finding extra help comes at a bad time, as growing competition from online rivals makes finances that much tighter. But the need to gear up for Christmas doesn’t go away for those which are struggling.

Even Toys R Us, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, announced just days later that it was looking to hire at least 13,000 temporary workers in its major markets this holiday season. The troubled retailer has had to sweetened its compensation packages to include weekend pay rates during peak weeks, additional employee discounts and special after-hours events such as parties for its employees, said spokesman Joe Contrino.

Follow this story