Jill Messick, a Hollywood producer and executive who once worked for Miramax under Harvey Weinstein's leadership and served as Rose McGowan's manager, took her own life on Wednesday after a long battle with depression, her family said. She was 50.
Following her death, Messick's family released a blistering statement condemning Weinstein, McGowan, and the media for their portrayals of Messick, who "became collateral damage in an already horrific story."
"Jill was victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact," the family said in a lengthy statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge.
The family accused McGowan of making "slanderous statements" against Messick, sullying her name and her reputation.
Messick was McGowan's manager in January 1997 when, the actress alleges, she was raped by Weinstein. Messick later worked as a production executive at Miramax, then led by Weinstein. Miramax, founded in 1979 by Weinstein and his brother, Bob, has produced and distributed numerous successful movies. The Weinsteins sold the company in 1993.
Messick's name became entrenched in the Weinstein scandal when McGowan told the New York Times in October that Messick arranged the meeting with Weinstein during which she was allegedly raped. McGowan told the Times that she confided in Messick, her manager, about what had happened. "She held me," McGowan said. "She put her arms around me."
But later, McGowan told the Times, she did not feel supported by her managers. A few months later, Messick took a job at the Weinstein-led Miramax.
Messick's name emerged in the news again recently as McGowan promoted her upcoming memoir, which includes stories involving Messick. In response to the media attention, Weinstein's attorney, Ben Brafman, released a statement calling McGowan's rape allegations "a bold lie." In the statement, he attributed a quote to Messick as a witness corroborating his client's position.
According to Messick's family, the quotes came from an email she sent to Weinstein months before the allegations came out against Weinstein. The legal team chose to release the email without Messick's consent, her family said.
"Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person's attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey's desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her," the family's statement read. Messick, they said, "chose to remain silent in the face of Rose's slanderous statements against her for fear of undermining the many individuals who came forward in truth.
"What makes Rose's inaccurate accusations and insinuations against Jill ironic was that she was the first person who stood up on Rose's behalf, and alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered," the family stated.
The statement shared Messick's recollections of the day that McGowan confided in her about what happened with Weinstein:
"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.
The family added that Messick believed in the #MeToo movement and supported the women coming forward to expose "those who had committed previously unspeakable deeds."
Messick worked as an executive producer on a number of comedies including Universal's "Baby Mama," Paramount's "Hot Rod," Miramax's "She's All That" and the 2002 Oscar-winning film Frida, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Tina Fey, who worked with Messick in adapting the book "Queen Bees & Wanna Bees" for the movie "Mean Girls," mourned the executive's loss in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.
"This is very sad news and my heart goes out to her family," Fey said. "Jill was instrumental in helping Mean Girls get to the screen. She was a fiercely dedicated producer and a kind person."
Author Information:Samantha Schmidt is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix team.