Veteran Hollywood producer Jill Messick, who in recent months found herself caught in the middle of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has killed herself, her family said in a statement. She was 50.
Messick had been a manager for Rose McGowan in 1997, when the actress says Weinstein raped her — a charge that he has denied.
McGowan has been one of Weinstein’s most vocal accusers and her public shaming of him helped bring other women with allegations to the forefront.
Messick, who was executive producer the films Masterminds and Baby Mama, had bipolar disorder and depression, her family said. Nevertheless, in a statement, the family strongly suggests that finding herself in the middle of the high-profile Weinstein-McGowan story drove her to take her own life.
“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 said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Those headlines included a New York Times story from October in which McGowan detailed the back-and-forth with Messick at the time of the assault, claiming that Messick had initially comforted her and helped arrange a settlement with Weinstein, but that ultimately, McGowan was “shocked when, only a few months afterward, Ms. Messick accepted a job working as vice president for development at Miramax, then run by Mr. Weinstein.”
According to The Associated Press, “Messick’s family says McGowan reported the (1997) incident to her without calling it rape, but that Messick, realizing something inappropriate if not illegal had happened, reported it to her senior bosses months before she went to work under Weinstein at Miramax.”
“Jill was victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact,” the family said. “The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge. She became collateral damage in an already horrific story.”
Actor and writer Tina Fey, who worked with Messick on the 2004 film Mean Girls, called her “a dedicated producer and kind person,” according to Hollywood Reporter.
Director Mark Waters said Messick helped get him hired to direct on Mean Girls. He told the magazine that she was “a terrific producer, there with me every day on set, and always a tireless, positive presence. She will be sadly missed by all of us who knew her.”