This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability and silence victims of abuse. —Back cover blurb
Great book from Ronan Farrow
By Roger Childs
This exciting and fascinating book differs from thrillers in one respect — it’s all true. Author Ronan Farrow is from a dysfunctional family – his mother is actress Mia Farrow and his father film director Woody Allen. This union didn’t last long, but they did also have a daughter, Dylan. Tragically she was molested as a child by her father. Set against this background, Ronan Farrow spent many years researching the predatory behaviour towards female employees, of Harvey Weinstein and other entertainment and media moguls.
Catch and Kill is an exposé of the appalling actions of men in high places and how they got away with sexually intimidating women, from crude talk and exposing themselves to physical assault and rape. There has been a long history of this kind of behaviour in Hollywood and from the 1920s to the 1950s, the “casting couch” was often the only way budding film actresses could get roles.
On the case
Ronan Farrow was working for the NBC television network, where he wrote and presented news exposés, when he started researching the story of Harvey Weinstein and his on-going sexual preying on women in the film and television industries. There were many rumours going back decades about Weinstein’s behaviour, but most of the women were terrified of losing their jobs, and, in the case of film stars, not getting movie roles. Those who did complain were usually paid off and forced to sign “non-disclosure” agreements. Others reluctantly continued to allow Weinstein to sexually blackmail them in order to stay in work.
Farrow initially had the green light from his NBC bosses to keep digging for a credible story that could go on air, and he was able to also follow up earlier researching by other reporters. Trying to get women who had suffered at the hands of Weinstein to appear on camera or even in shadow was a major challenge.
The Hollywood mogul employed a raft of lawyers to get information to discredit the stories of women who, often very reluctantly because of fears of harassment and losing work, talked to Farrow. Weinstein also used dubious organisations to gather intelligence and tail Farrow.
Shadowy groups and papers
Organisations like AMI and Israel’s Black Cube were involved in tracking Farrow’s travels, contacts and conversations. There were also newspapers like The National Enquirer, which were constantly digging for dirt, and, for an appropriate pay-off would catch potentially embarrassing stories on people in high places and either “kill” them or bide their time. They could bring down Trump any time. Although the book is mainly on the Weinstein case and a grubby NBC executive named Matt Lauer, there is material on Donald Trump paying off women he had affairs with. Trump, like Prince Andrew, was also friends with Jeffrey Epstein.
In the end NBC bosses got cold feet and wouldn’t run Farrow’s thoroughly researched and carefully edited story, even though he had tapes with evidence and footage of a number of woman who were prepared to testify against Weinstein, He had to move to The New Yorker magazine to break the story, and the rest is history.
A best seller around the world
Catch and Kill is a superbly written book of more than 400 pages and has 59 action-filled chapters in five parts. It shows Farrow as a dogged and efficient researcher who refuses to give up despite surveillance, betrayal, threats and intimidation. It’s about his determination to bring down the serial predator Harvey Weinstein, but is also about many brave women who risked their reputations and employment to reveal the truth of what the entertainment mogul had been getting away with for years.
One of these women, actress Rose McGowan, tweeted Farrow: Because it’s been an open secret in Hollywood/Media … they shame me while adulating my rapist. It is time for some goddamned honesty in this world. Her example in being prepared to speak out, encouraged others.
There is some harrowing detail in the unfolding story, but this provides the evidence and is never gratuitous.
The book deserves to be a bestseller and, whenever they re-open, all good bookshops will be stocking it.