AJ BENZA

AJ BENZA

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The women who were really sexually harassed and raped have to be separated from these no name, half-ass actresses like the one who said former President George Bush Sr. patted their ass during a photo op.

The news is not shocking. What is shocking is that after decades of deviant Hollywood behavior one actress, Rose McGowan, finally had enough. The brave outing of movie producer and entertainment power-player Harvey Weinstein rocked not just Tinsletown….it rocked the world.
Since McGowan’s story of sexual harassment, a growing number of actresses and others in the film industry have made accusations against Weinstein and a growing list of actors, producers and directors who allegedly also abused their power to make dreams come true.
Thus far more than 80 women have made sex abuse and rape allegations against Weinstein and I don’t need to tell you that by the time this issue goes to print that number will be much higher. Among the Hollywood mogul’s accusers are household names that were still looking to establish themselves when the alleged offences took place.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with famed entertainment reporter, author and actor AJ Benza about his close relationship with Weinstein and what he knew about the allegations and what we all can expect to happen next.

Chaunce Hayden: Just how well do you know Harvey Weinstein?
AJ Benza: Very well. I’ve been friends with him since 1991. As a gossip columnist he and I chatted almost everyday. He gave me my first book deal in 1997 and we stayed in touch throughout the years. I saw him about 10 months before this whole thing broke. I met him at the Peninsula Hotel and he told me there’s a hit piece coming out on him and it’s going to do a lot of damage. However, he didn’t get into any details about the sexual angle.
Are you surprised?
Like a lot of people who knew Harvey very well, I imagined he got laid every now an than because he was a very powerful movie mogul. I know how this town [Hollywood] works, so it wasn’t surprising. But the extent that we’ve been reading is an absolute, mind-blowing thing. I had known idea we would be talking about it on this level of a sickness.
He’s a global pariah. How has the scandal affected your relationship with Harvey?
I still speak to him a little bit. A few weeks ago when we spoke he said that he was very appreciative and that not many people still talk to him any longer. Unfortunately, I don’t think he can recover from this as far as making movies in Hollywood is concerned. He’s a moviemaker. He’s responsible for some of the best movies we’ve seen. In the 1990’s the independent movie business exploded under the Miramax banner. He helped create so many stars. The guy is huge. But I don’t think he has more than a 5 percent chance of making a movie in this town or doing anything in this town. I really don’t. I’m really trying to separate the businessman from the man who is suffering from some kind of sickness. He needs help.
That’s been a debate. Is Harvey Weinstein sick or is he a criminal?
[Deep sigh] Right now before the criminal investigations are said and done, he belongs in rehab. He needs to be seeing a psychologist because he suffers from the need to have power over people. I think it stems from something in his childhood. I don’t know if he was the victim of something himself. Nobody has talked about that. What was his childhood like? But that’s not an excuse. I don’t care if he was raped as a kid. It’s no excuse to do what he’s done. He needs a doctor. If it’s true he raped this women than jail is harsh, but it’s something that has to be considered.
How did he get away with it for so long?
There were a ton of enablers for so long. There were a ton of assistants who led these women into his apartment, hotel suites, cars and parties where they knew the victims would be prayed upon. He also has an army of people around him who he made movies with that would “wink and nudge” over the understood fact that Harvey terrorized certain women. But people in Hollywood do not want to give up that lifestyle of making millions of dollars in order to help women. Although, some did speak out on some level. Brad Pitt flipped out when Gwyneth Paltrow was prayed on. But there’s only so much you can do. If Brad had punched him out, he would’ve not worked for a long time and been sued and arrested. So there weren’t many people to go to if you were a female. It took all these years for a girl like Rose McGowan, who reached her breaking point, to speak out. They say, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.” But even more so, “Hell has no fury like a woman who was told to do things she didn’t want to do.” When Rose spoke up it started the crack in the wall to where we are now.
Not to make an excuse for what Harvey has done, but obviously he’s not the first or last to target women.
Yeah, but he’s the biggest name. He was so big and so connected to a multi-billion dollar industry of movies, books and fashion that he became the cover boy for abuse.
Over 80 women have come forward so far. Does it start to dilute the problem when 30-year-old stories of Hollywood abuse start to become headlines? Are some women taking advantage of the media hype for their own personal gain and nothing more?
I’m sure there are. The more women that attach themselves to this sort of thing can start to dilute the problem. It starts to lesson the degree of how horrible this is. I think that happened with Bill Cosby. The women who were really sexually harassed and raped have to be separated from these no name, half-ass actresses like the one who said former President George Bush Sr. patted their ass during a photo op. There’s a difference. There are women who deserve our sympathy and justice needs to be served and there are women who just need to shut the fuck up. They are too far outside the circle and they want to get in.
Are we talking about a witch-hunt?
It is a witch-hunt. It’s like finding a big, giant rat in your house. You know when you kill it that there will be more. You best look around for other rats. So it is worth it to keep searching for the truth and uncovering things. But at the same time we hear about people like Dustin Hoffman who said some inappropriate things in a dressing room during the 1980s. Look man, it’s Hollywood. I’m sure these women knew the industry they were getting in to. There are certain businesses in the past where men were allowed to be men and women were women. That’s all changed now. Those days are over. No longer can a woman feel like she’s entered a business that the boys run. That shit has ended. Hollywood has always been a place where women are mistreated and children are passed around. It’s a cut-throat, shitty business. It’s also America’s best export. Nobody makes movies like Hollywood.
Do we put some of the blame on an actress who allowed the abuse and than took the movie role and earned magazine covers and millions of dollars without ever saying a word? Did that set the stage for what became the norm?
That’s a tough thing. There are women who took the bullshit to work in Hollywood and others who took the money to make the guy pay for what he did to her. Maybe those things did happen, but no woman ever left the house thinking because I’m dressed sexy I deserved to be raped for a movie role. It’s just wrong. You can’t do that.
So will Hollywood ever be the same?
The rules have changed and Hollywood will never be the same. There have already been subtle changes over the years. It’s very obvious. Women are now being introduced on shows historically hosted by men. They are in the newsroom; they are directing movies and marching for causes on Washington. The world has changed and women are finally being heard. Men can’t get away with bad behavior like they have in the past. Everything has changed. I mean Adam Sandler just got in trouble for putting his hand on a knee of an actress during a talk show in England. They actually slowed the video down like a football play to highlight his and touching her knee while he tried to highlight a story.
Great segue. For decades Howard Stern has gotten away with murder when it comes to sexualizing Hollywood actresses. If they wanted to promote their movie they had to be sexually scrutinized. Will all those years of bad behavior come crashing down on Stern in light of the current media attention toward Hollywood and it’s abuse toward women?
Howard and [his chief operating officer] Marci Turk are white washing all the old shows that portray him in a chauvinistic, filthy light. Yet he still has shows on just this past month called, “Cocktober” where guys were taking their nuts and balls out and guys are touching each other. It’s just gross. I don’t know why he thinks that’s still okay to do?
Hypocrisy?
It is hypocrisy. Stern had a show where on the phone he would say that he thinks the female caller is wet. Harvey went too far, but Howard is a shrewd guy. He’s surrounded himself with A-list celebrities who will protect him. But if you go back a couple of years he did and said things that are awful. Will they come for Howard Stern? Will women come forward and say he did things to them that made them uncomfortable? I would guess so. The only difference is that Howard would warn the guest what they were getting into up front. If you walked into that studio you knew that everything was allowed. But that’s all over now.
Will Kevin Spacey ever work again?
I don’t think he will work very much if at all. I’ve heard many stories about him. But you can’t write about it because nobody will speak on the record. I’ve heard that Corey Haim was raped at Charlie Sheen’s house. I heard that Kevin Spacey was getting blowjobs on a golf course. I heard that there are photos at [Hollywood director] Bryan Singer’s house showing young boys doing things to Kevin Spacey. If those pictures get out he’s done. Actually, he’s done already. For Netflix to cancel “House of Cards” is a big deal. That’s major news. In fact, I’ll even say in the coming weeks we’ll see Hollywood actors and directors killing themselves rather than face what’s coming out in the news about things they did. We’ll be reading about suicides. Trust me.
Will you ever write a book about Harvey Weinstein and what you’ve seen and uncovered during your years as a Hollywood insider?
I have stories that I’ve talked about and written about. In fact, I have a podcast now called, “Fame Is A Bitch” where I speak freely. It’s not that hard to speak out and allege certain stories like it was in the past. I don’t know if I’ll ever write a book about it, but I do know during next weeks show I’ll sit down and discuss a lot of things that are alleged to have happened in Hollywood. So many things! Things that I thought could never be true are now becoming true. So who’s to say all the other things I’ve heard aren’t true?
For instance?
We can go all the way back to Richard Gere and the gerbils. I think Middle America is now ready to know the truth. There are a lot of big name directors and producers who are shitting their pants right now.
You can hear AJ Benza’s podcast “Fame Is A Bitch” on Itunes.

Will they come for Howard Stern? Will women come forward and say he did things to them that made them uncomfortable? I would guess so.

Chaunce Hayden: Just how well do you know Harvey Weinstein?
AJ Benza: Very well. I’ve been friends with him since 1991. As a gossip columnist he and I chatted almost everyday. He gave me my first book deal in 1997 and we stayed in touch throughout the years. I saw him about 10 months before this whole thing broke. I met him at the Peninsula Hotel and he told me there’s a hit piece coming out on him and it’s going to do a lot of damage. However, he didn’t get into any details about the sexual angle.
Are you surprised?
Like a lot of people who knew Harvey very well, I imagined he got laid every now an than because he was a very powerful movie mogul. I know how this town [Hollywood] works, so it wasn’t surprising. But the extent that we’ve been reading is an absolute, mind-blowing thing. I had known idea we would be talking about it on this level of a sickness.
He’s a global pariah. How has the scandal affected your relationship with Harvey?
I still speak to him a little bit. A few weeks ago when we spoke he said that he was very appreciative and that not many people still talk to him any longer. Unfortunately, I don’t think he can recover from this as far as making movies in Hollywood is concerned. He’s a moviemaker. He’s responsible for some of the best movies we’ve seen. In the 1990’s the independent movie business exploded under the Miramax banner. He helped create so many stars. The guy is huge. But I don’t think he has more than a 5 percent chance of making a movie in this town or doing anything in this town. I really don’t. I’m really trying to separate the businessman from the man who is suffering from some kind of sickness. He needs help.
That’s been a debate. Is Harvey Weinstein sick or is he a criminal?
[Deep sigh] Right now before the criminal investigations are said and done, he belongs in rehab. He needs to be seeing a psychologist because he suffers from the need to have power over people. I think it stems from something in his childhood. I don’t know if he was the victim of something himself. Nobody has talked about that. What was his childhood like? But that’s not an excuse. I don’t care if he was raped as a kid. It’s no excuse to do what he’s done. He needs a doctor. If it’s true he raped this women than jail is harsh, but it’s something that has to be considered.
How did he get away with it for so long?
There were a ton of enablers for so long. There were a ton of assistants who led these women into his apartment, hotel suites, cars and parties where they knew the victims would be prayed upon. He also has an army of people around him who he made movies with that would “wink and nudge” over the understood fact that Harvey terrorized certain women. But people in Hollywood do not want to give up that lifestyle of making millions of dollars in order to help women. Although, some did speak out on some level. Brad Pitt flipped out when Gwyneth Paltrow was prayed on. But there’s only so much you can do. If Brad had punched him out, he would’ve not worked for a long time and been sued and arrested. So there weren’t many people to go to if you were a female. It took all these years for a girl like Rose McGowan, who reached her breaking point, to speak out. They say, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.” But even more so, “Hell has no fury like a woman who was told to do things she didn’t want to do.” When Rose spoke up it started the crack in the wall to where we are now.
Not to make an excuse for what Harvey has done, but obviously he’s not the first or last to target women.
Yeah, but he’s the biggest name. He was so big and so connected to a multi-billion dollar industry of movies, books and fashion that he became the cover boy for abuse.
Over 80 women have come forward so far. Does it start to dilute the problem when 30-year-old stories of Hollywood abuse start to become headlines? Are some women taking advantage of the media hype for their own personal gain and nothing more?
I’m sure there are. The more women that attach themselves to this sort of thing can start to dilute the problem. It starts to lesson the degree of how horrible this is. I think that happened with Bill Cosby. The women who were really sexually harassed and raped have to be separated from these no name, half-ass actresses like the one who said former President George Bush Sr. patted their ass during a photo op. There’s a difference. There are women who deserve our sympathy and justice needs to be served and there are women who just need to shut the fuck up. They are too far outside the circle and they want to get in.
Are we talking about a witch-hunt?
It is a witch-hunt. It’s like finding a big, giant rat in your house. You know when you kill it that there will be more. You best look around for other rats. So it is worth it to keep searching for the truth and uncovering things. But at the same time we hear about people like Dustin Hoffman who said some inappropriate things in a dressing room during the 1980s. Look man, it’s Hollywood. I’m sure these women knew the industry they were getting in to. There are certain businesses in the past where men were allowed to be men and women were women. That’s all changed now. Those days are over. No longer can a woman feel like she’s entered a business that the boys run. That shit has ended. Hollywood has always been a place where women are mistreated and children are passed around. It’s a cut-throat, shitty business. It’s also America’s best export. Nobody makes movies like Hollywood.
Do we put some of the blame on an actress who allowed the abuse and than took the movie role and earned magazine covers and millions of dollars without ever saying a word? Did that set the stage for what became the norm?
That’s a tough thing. There are women who took the bullshit to work in Hollywood and others who took the money to make the guy pay for what he did to her. Maybe those things did happen, but no woman ever left the house thinking because I’m dressed sexy I deserved to be raped for a movie role. It’s just wrong. You can’t do that.
So will Hollywood ever be the same?
The rules have changed and Hollywood will never be the same. There have already been subtle changes over the years. It’s very obvious. Women are now being introduced on shows historically hosted by men. They are in the newsroom; they are directing movies and marching for causes on Washington. The world has changed and women are finally being heard. Men can’t get away with bad behavior like they have in the past. Everything has changed. I mean Adam Sandler just got in trouble for putting his hand on a knee of an actress during a talk show in England. They actually slowed the video down like a football play to highlight his and touching her knee while he tried to highlight a story.
Great segue. For decades Howard Stern has gotten away with murder when it comes to sexualizing Hollywood actresses. If they wanted to promote their movie they had to be sexually scrutinized. Will all those years of bad behavior come crashing down on Stern in light of the current media attention toward Hollywood and it’s abuse toward women?
Howard and [his chief operating officer] Marci Turk are white washing all the old shows that portray him in a chauvinistic, filthy light. Yet he still has shows on just this past month called, “Cocktober” where guys were taking their nuts and balls out and guys are touching each other. It’s just gross. I don’t know why he thinks that’s still okay to do?
Hypocrisy?
It is hypocrisy. Stern had a show where on the phone he would say that he thinks the female caller is wet. Harvey went too far, but Howard is a shrewd guy. He’s surrounded himself with A-list celebrities who will protect him. But if you go back a couple of years he did and said things that are awful. Will they come for Howard Stern? Will women come forward and say he did things to them that made them uncomfortable? I would guess so. The only difference is that Howard would warn the guest what they were getting into up front. If you walked into that studio you knew that everything was allowed. But that’s all over now.
Will Kevin Spacey ever work again?
I don’t think he will work very much if at all. I’ve heard many stories about him. But you can’t write about it because nobody will speak on the record. I’ve heard that Corey Haim was raped at Charlie Sheen’s house. I heard that Kevin Spacey was getting blowjobs on a golf course. I heard that there are photos at [Hollywood director] Bryan Singer’s house showing young boys doing things to Kevin Spacey. If those pictures get out he’s done. Actually, he’s done already. For Netflix to cancel “House of Cards” is a big deal. That’s major news. In fact, I’ll even say in the coming weeks we’ll see Hollywood actors and directors killing themselves rather than face what’s coming out in the news about things they did. We’ll be reading about suicides. Trust me.
Will you ever write a book about Harvey Weinstein and what you’ve seen and uncovered during your years as a Hollywood insider?
I have stories that I’ve talked about and written about. In fact, I have a podcast now called, “Fame Is A Bitch” where I speak freely. It’s not that hard to speak out and allege certain stories like it was in the past. I don’t know if I’ll ever write a book about it, but I do know during next weeks show I’ll sit down and discuss a lot of things that are alleged to have happened in Hollywood. So many things! Things that I thought could never be true are now becoming true. So who’s to say all the other things I’ve heard aren’t true?
For instance?
We can go all the way back to Richard Gere and the gerbils. I think Middle America is now ready to know the truth. There are a lot of big name directors and producers who are shitting their pants right now.
You can hear AJ Benza’s podcast “Fame Is A Bitch” on Itunes.

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