UPDATE MAR 6: DEAL IS DEAD Maria Contreras-Sweet, Obama SBA Head, Announces Investor Purchase Of The Weinstein Company

 Maria Contreras-Sweet by Alex Wong, Ron Burkle by David M. Benett

Maria Contreras-Sweet by Alex Wong, Ron Burkle by David M. Benett

Never Mind: "500 Million Deal to Save the Weinstein Company Is Kaput Vanity Fair

Maria Contreras-Sweet announced Thursday afternoon that an investor group lead by herself and billionaire Ron Burkle reached a deal to buy The Weinstein Company. The complex and infuriating negotiations to reach a deal that kept TWC from not having to declare bankruptcy even included New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who ended up acting as a necessary mediator, given the complexity of TWC's legal problems. 

In a statement Schneiderman said:  "As part of these negotiations, we are pleased to have received express commitments from the parties that the new company will create a real, well-funded victims' compensation fund, implement HR policies that will protect all employees, and will not unjustly reward bad actors. We will work with the parties in the weeks ahead to ensure that the parties honor and memorialize these commitments prior to closing."

Contreras-Sweet, who served as 24th Administrator of the Small Business Administration in the Obama Administration, and Burkle organized the group of investors who are putting up $500 million to buy the once-powerful indie film and television production company founded by Weinstein and his brother, Bob in 2005. 

The Hollywood Reporter writes that "the buyers have agreed to establish a victims' fund amounting to $80 million-$90 million, as much as two times higher than the fund they originally planned to put in place. Also, there appear to be no plans now for Contreras-Sweet and Burkle to retain David Glasser as CEO of the new company."

Contreras-Sweet issued this full statement:

Our team is pleased to announce that we have taken an important step and have reached an agreement to purchase assets from The Weinstein Company in order to launch a new company, with a new board and a new vision that embodies the principles that we have stood by since we began this process last fall. Those principles have never wavered and have always been to build a movie studio led by a board of directors made up of a majority of independent women, save about 150 jobs, protect the small businesses who are owed money and create a victims’ compensation fund that would supplement existing insurance coverage for those who have been harmed. The cornerstone of our plan has been to launch a new company that represents the best practices in corporate governance and transparency.

This next step represents the best possible pathway to support victims and protect employees.

We are grateful to the New York State Attorney General’s office for their efforts in helping us reach an agreement and we are grateful to our investors who have believed in this process and in the compelling value of a female-led company. We also want to thank all the parties who returned to the negotiating table to help us reach this development.

I have had a long-standing commitment to fostering women ownership in business. This potential deal is an important step to that end.

It's believed that Contreras-Sweet will rename the company and more its headquarters from the old Beverly Hills office to a space in Larchmont Village, which previously served as home to the now-defunct Broad Green Pictures. 

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks Resigns Day After House Intel Committee Testimony

 Hope Hicks did not indicate what her next job would be or when she intended to leave her post as White House communications director. Credit: Leah Millis/Reuters

Hope Hicks did not indicate what her next job would be or when she intended to leave her post as White House communications director. Credit: Leah Millis/Reuters

White House communications director Hope Hicks, a close ally of President Trump who has successfully managed his personality, has resigned. Hicks, a brief model and member of Ivanka Trump's fashion pr business team , comes a day after she testified for eight hours before the House Intelligence Committee. A major soundbite from the Hicks testimony was her vague admission that she has occasionally been required to tell white lies, in her work with the Trump administration. Hicks previously met for two days of interviews in December with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team. 

According to The New York Times: "As communications director, Ms. Hicks worked to stabilize, to some extent, a fractious press department of about 40 people who were often at odds with one another in 2017. She maintained one of the lowest public profiles of anyone to ever hold the job, declining to sit for interviews or appear at the White House briefing room podium. That mystique added to the outsize attention she received."

Hicks found herself in the headlines recently, with the resignation of Trump and General Kelley's close aide Rob Porter, who failed to pass his security clearance due to sexual assault allegations. Hicks has been romantically involved with Porter and initially worked to craft statements defending his conduct, when she should have recused herself. 

The Hope Hicks resignation reflects a White House operation that is crumbling. Yesterday, presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner lost his top-secret security clearance, the same day that his close friend and aide Josh Raffel. 

This entire scenario is unfolding like a situation that we have never seen in an American presidency. 

Another new headline minutes old from The New York Times:  Has Jared Kushner Conspired to Defraud America?

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that “officials in at least four countries” — United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico — “have privately discussed ways they can manipulate” Mr. Kushner by taking advantage of his “complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.” The president gave his son-in-law an expansive foreign policy role, including an effort to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The implication in the story is that the United States government has intercepted communications of foreign leaders talking about ways they could take advantage of the inexperienced White House aide, whose family real estate empire is facing substantial debt woes.