Actor Salma Hayek honored her friend, the late producer and studio executive Jill Messick, who died by suicide on Wednesday at age 50. Messick's name has been in the news recently, because she represented McGowan in 1997, the time period during which McGowan was allegedly raped by Harvey Weinstein.
According to her family in a statement published in The Hollywood Reporter, Messick has endured a longtime battle with depression and bipolar disorder and a particularly bad manic episode five years ago. Her personal trauma was recently triggered again by gossip and inferences about her role -- if any -- in McGowan's alleged rape by Harvey Weinstein. Messick was the executive producer of 'Frida', working closely with Hayek, who has written her own story about how an angry Weinstein tried to destroy the movie.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Jill Messick,” Hayek said of Messick, who was an executive producer on Hayek’s 2002 Miramax film, “Frida.” “She always navigated the frustrating and hostile environment of Miramax with grace and elegance. She became my ally and my friend. In the many years we worked together I witnessed her professionalism while being pregnant, a mother and through incredible pressure. She was a girl’s girl and a romantic when it came to fighting for the underdog. I will forever be grateful for her support and kindness.”
Messick's family felt compelled to address any allegations about Messick's handling of McGowan's experience with Weinstein, writing:
In January 1997, Jill was an entry level manager at Addis Wechsler. One of her first clients was Rose McGowan, and one of Jill’s first duties was to set up a breakfast meeting with Harvey Weinstein during the Sundance Film Festival. Following the meeting, Rose told Jill what had happened – that she made the decision to remove her clothes and get in the hot tub with him – a mistake which Rose immediately regretted. Rose never once used the word rape in that conversation. Despite this, Jill recognized that Harvey had done something untoward to Rose, if not illegal. She immediately went to her bosses, the partners of Addis Wechsler, to recount Rose’s story and to insist that they immediately address the situation. They told Jill that they would handle the situation. The ensuing arrangements between Rose and Harvey were then negotiated, completely without Jill’s knowledge. At that time, all Jill knew was that the matter was settled and that Rose continued making films with the Weinsteins. She never knew any details until recently, when Rose elected to make them public.
Jill's family alleges that Rose McGowan's need for constant attention for her personal cause that is not at all unique to her, coupled with Harvey Weinstein's decision to release previously unseen documents, caused Jill Messick significant pain and triggered the bout of manic depression that took her life. The family continued:
Rose’s most recent round of press to promote her book has included new stories involving Jill. The constant press attention Rose has garnered in print and on national TV led to Harvey Weinstein releasing two documents. One of these was an email that Jill wrote to him months prior to the first New York Times piece coming out, and at his request. In this email, Jill offered the truth based on what she remembers Rose telling her about the Sundance account. In the face of Rose’s continued and embellished accusations last week, Harvey took it upon himself to release the email without her consent.
The materials released by Weinstein's lawyer Ben Brafman, were summarized by The Telegraph:
In her book, McGowan said that she told Ben Affleck, her co-star in 1997 film 'Going All The Way', about the incident at a photo opportunity. “I am shaking and my eyes fill with tears,” she writes; “I say where I’ve just come from, and my costar says, ‘Goddamn it, I told him to stop doing that.’” On Twitter, McGowan has identified the co-star in question as Ben Affleck.
However, Affleck says in the statement released by Weinstein: “She never told me nor did I ever infer that she was attacked by anyone. Any accounts to the contrary are false. I have no knowledge about anything Rose did or claimed to have done.”
McGowan told ABC News "Nightline" co-anchor Juju Chang that she met Weinstein for the first time in 1997 at the Sundance Festival. Someone from her management team set up the meeting at the restaurant at Weinstein's hotel, the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, in Park City, Utah. McGowan said Weinstein moved the meeting to his palatial suite.
Never one to mince words, McGowan says her first impression of Weinstein was that “he was a warthog from hell.”
“I thought he was terrifying-looking. I thought he was the single most ugly person I’d ever seen in my life,” McGowan said.
The meeting went well, but, as she walked towards the door to leave, McGowan says, things took a negative turn.
“In my head, I was on my way out a door. My brain was on the next moment of what I had to do that day. And the next thing I know, I’m in a totally completely different situation that is not anywhere my brain had anticipated going. So my poor brain is just, like, shocked. And my poor body is left behind,” McGowan said.
I will never defend Harvey Weinstein, but that statement alone is why a woman lawyer advised her that she McGowan had no rape case. Stating that her brain went into a state of shock, and her body complied is not a legal defense. Countless women do it for very legitimate reasons, but in a legal proceeding, reasonable doubt is in play. Weinstein didn't tie up McGowan, and science actually makes a strong case that one's brain goes into self-preservation, fight or flight mode. McGowan may have been thinking more than she understands. Just sayin'.
In her book, McGowan wrote that Weinstein then pushed her into the suite’s Jacuzzi and undressed her. The actor turned director says Weinstein picked her up and placed her on the edge of the Jacuzzi. Then, she said, he began to perform forced oral sex on her.
Messick, who set up the meeting between McGowan and Weinstein, said in the email released by Ben Brafman : “When we met up the following day, she hesitantly told me of her own accord that during the meeting that night before she had gotten into a hot tub with Mr Weinstein.
"She was very clear about the fact that getting into that hot tub was something that she did consensually and that in hindsight it was also something that she regretted having done.”
In her book, McGowan writes that she called her manager (Messick) to tell her about the alleged rape. “It was so fucked up,” she wrote, “she counseled me to see it as something that would help my career in the long run.”
Messick went on to work for Weinstein's film company Miramax. Rose McGowan had numerous subsequent business dealings with Weinstein and appeared with him, being friendly in public. I admit to not being a Rose McGowan fan, as she has lashed out at everyone in Hollywood, when she herself went on to work with Weinstein again, and asked him to finance her films. So I am just confused.
What a sad story all the way around! Rose McGowan finally issued a social media post on Saturday, one that many of her followers found to be hollow and cold. The Cut calls her post "earnest", so there -- I have balanced the statement. I will say that I've read so much hate and condemnation of everyone but herself -- who continued on to be part of the Hollywood treacherous game she condemns -- that I'm surprised with her spiritual post.
Her caption reads: “For Jill: May your family find some measure of solace during this pain. That one man could cause so much damage is astounding, but tragically true. The bad man did this to us both. May you find peace on the astral plane. May you find serenity with the stars.”
Related: Brave by Rose McGowan review -- damn right she's angry The Guardian