SWhenever he's had a glaring problem in his business, Harvey Weinstein — legendary manipulator of the press — has always been a master at deflecting attention away: No Oscars recently? Just look at how much money the lowbrow genre films his brother Bob have been raking in! No big genre successes? Well, look at our home video business! The home video business is struggling? Well, we've got an Oscar film coming up! The cycle can be repeated over and over, but financial facts always trump spin. And today, the Weinstein Co. laid off 24 of its employees, 11% of its total staff, according to the New York Post, in what will only provide more chum in the water for those not-so-quietly rooting for the final downfall of the Weinsteins.The reason cited today was, of course, "the economy." But all of the bright spots the Weinsteins once pointed to at their company are dimming. The biggest potential break-out movie on this year's slate was Zack and Miri Make a Porno starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. As a Kevin Smith film, it's done fine since opening over Halloween weekend, with just over $27 million at the box office. But that's nowhere near the kind of return they'll need to convince tight-fisted investors to pump more money into TWC. Their cash-generating Project Runway is tied up in a nasty law suit that will keep it from returning to the air any time soon. And the boring side of the business, the 70% stake in straight-to-video distribution arm Genius Products, is now literally a penny stock, closing on Friday at 4 cents per share, valuing the whole operation, which they once touted as a potential billion-dollar enterprise, at less than $3 million. The Weinsteins are running out of lifelines. But they still provide colorful stories. On Wednesday, some people at the Weinstein Co. were told to clean out their offices because a "special guest" would be coming through on Friday. Those same people learned this afternoon that it was just a ruse to speed their exit when they were told they were getting the ax.
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