Harvey Weinstein 'gets death threats from wannabe actor'

Aug 23, 2012

Bit-part actor who rubbed shoulders with A-list accused of extortion plot against US tycoons

Getty Images

ONE of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein, is believed to be at the centre of a terrifying extortion plot as new evidence emerges about the arrest of Vivek Shah (above left), a 25-year-old wannabe Hollywood star.

The bit-part actor allegedly threatened to kill members of Weinstein's family unless the movie mogul sent millions of dollars to an offshore bank account.

Shah is accused of sending out letters to five US-based tycoons. Among them, according to an affidavit obtained by The Smoking Gun website, is "a Connecticut resident and co-founder of a film studio".

Federal authorities are now quoted as confirming that this is Miramax Studios co-founder Harvey Weinstein, the Oscar-winning film producer whose best-known movies include The Lord of the Rings, The King's Speech and Shakespeare in Love.

Shah, whose imdb.com profile shows him pictured with A-list actors such as Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie, allegedly sent out his extortion notes in June and July.

As well as Weinstein, billionaire coal magnate Christopher Cline and Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky are believed to have been sent letters containing a threat to kill "named members" of their family unless a large sum of money was wired to an offshore bank account.

A source told the New York Post that Weinstein and the other victims immediately contacted the FBI after receiving the letters.

Shah was arrested on August 10 just before he was due to take handgun lessons at a Los Angeles shooting range, the court papers say.

Although he describes himself as an actor, Shah's fledgling film career is patchy. His biggest role was playing a Middle Eastern bank hostage in the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight, which went uncredited.

Weinstein has not commented on the allegations. A source told the Post that he and his film producer brother Bob are currently under "intense security" not because of Shah, but due to their latest project, The Master, said to be based on the founding of Scientology.

Sign up for our daily newsletter