The True Story Behind Seth MacFarlane’s Famous Harvey Weinstein Joke

Photo: Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic.
“Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein,” Seth MacFarlane said when he announced the 2013 Oscar nominees for best supporting actress alongside Emma Stone. At the time, the joke was greeted with nervous laughs, and went almost unnoticed. MacFarlane was asked about it during a CNN interview by an Us Weekly reporter, but he simply responded, “We didn’t run it by Harvey Weinstein. We just figured let’s just throw everything at the wall and see who gets mad.” End of story — at least back in 2013.
Now, in the wake of the scathing reports that have emerged from the New York Times and The New Yorker, MacFarlane is again speaking out to denounce Harvey Weinstein’s reprehensible actions. On Wednesday afternoon, MacFarlene posted an emotional note on Twitter about the alleged abuse his friend and colleague, actress Jessica Barth, had endured at the hands of the disgraced film mogul.
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“It was with this account in mind that, when I hosted the Oscars in 2013, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a hard swing in his direction. Make no mistake, this came from a place of loathing and anger. There is nothing more abhorrent and indefensible than abuse of power such as this,” MacFarlene noted.
Barth shared her account with Ronan Farrow in his exhaustive report for The New Yorker published on Tuesday. Barth told Farrow that Weinstein had invited her to a business meeting at the Peninsula hotel. When she reached his room, he had ordered Champagne and sushi. “Barth said that, in the conversation that followed, he alternated between offering to cast her in a film and demanding a naked massage in bed,” Farrow wrote of the encounter the actress described to him. Weinstein asked what would happen if they had some Champagne, and he took his clothes off so she could give him a massage. Barth says she refused.
The encounter didn’t end there, unfortunately. When Barth tried to leave the room, “Weinstein lashed out, saying that she needed to lose weight ‘to compete with Mila Kunis’” (it’s the second time Kunis’ name comes up in the New Yorker report; she seems to be somewhat of a fascination for Weinstein). Finally, Weinstein promised Barth a meeting with one of his female executives. She said it felt like a formality, telling Farrow, “I knew it was bullshit.”
At some point, Barth relayed this encounter to MacFarlane, which is why he chose to come out swinging at the Oscars nomination announcement. It takes a strong person to take a stand at a time when Hollywood was still remaining complicit about the awards whisperer whose harassment and abuse was basically an open secret, given the reports that have emerged in the past week. While many celebrities have come forward to condemn Weinstein’s actions in the past few days, MacFarlane was a surprising lone voice in the deafening silence back in 2013. It’s commendable, even though it didn’t lead to further action.
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If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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