Revelations of Hollywood honchos sexually abusing child actors and actresses have exposed the sordid reality of la-la land as the “open secret” at the heart of the Harvey Weinstein scandal comes further into the spotlight.
This week actress Laura Dern told a talk-show audience about how she still is coming to terms with having been sexually assaulted at 14. Now 50, Miss Dern first shared the experience with her mother, actress Diane Ladd, who herself tells of fending off a grabby moviemaker at age 17.
Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon has revealed that a director sexually assaulted her when she was 16. America Ferrera, of NBC’s “Superstore,” has said she was sexually abused at age 9.
And actor Cory Feldman’s longstanding charges of pedophilia in Tinseltown have resurfaced with a vengeance.
Meanwhile, some of Hollywood’s biggest names have been caught in the Weinstein crossfire, drawing unwanted publicity as each day brings a new round of accusations and apologies in a two-week-old sexual harassment scandal that shows no signs of abating.
The latest A-lister to feel the heat was Jeffrey Katzenberg. The DreamWorks co-founder and one of the industry’s most powerful figures wasted no time Wednesday issuing a public apology hours after actress Molly Ringwald accused him of making a crude comment about her more than two decades ago.
“That Molly Ringwald had to read those words attributed to me and believe I said them is horrifying, mortifying and embarrassing to me,” Mr. Katzenberg said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Anyone who knows me now or back then knows I do not use language like that as a matter of course, or tolerate it. Ms. Ringwald, 22 years too late, I am deeply, deeply sorry.”
In an essay for The New Yorker, she said: “The head of a major studio — and incidentally, someone who claims himself to be horrified by the Harvey allegations — was quoted as saying, ‘I wouldn’t know [Molly Ringwald] if she sat on my face.’”
The same day, Variety reported that Nickleodeon studios suspended “Loud House” creator Chris Savino amid allegations of sexual harassment, including “unwanted sexual advances as well as threats or retribution after the end of consensual relationships.”
The charged atmosphere and daily allegations of harassment prompted director Woody Allen — himself no stranger to allegations of sexual misconduct — to warn about the potential for a “witch hunt,” but producer Gabe Hoffman said it’s about time.
Mr. Hoffman, who served as executive producer of the 2014 documentary “An Open Secret” about sexual abuse of teenage boys in the entertainment industry, predicted that this may be only the “tip of the iceberg.”
“It’s what we’ve been expecting and hoping would happen all along,” said Mr. Hoffman. “A little bit of it happened with Bill Cosby, and it turned out that was just a little tremor in advance of the big one.”
So far 40 women have accused Mr. Weinstein of inappropriate behavior ranging from sexual harassment to rape, while his spokeswoman has denied any “allegations of nonconsensual sex” or “acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
“A big part of this is based on momentum, and it’s based on the comfort of seeing others do it and as part of their recovery: to speak out, to name names and do their part to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Mr. Hoffman.
A slew of top stars has denounced Mr. Weinstein’s alleged behavior, but that hasn’t inoculated them from charges that they knew about the harassment and did nothing, or that they engaged in inappropriate behavior themselves.
Actress Rose McGowan, one of eight women who reportedly reached a settlement with Mr. Weinstein, accused brothers Ben and Casey Affleck, Russell Crowe, Matt Damon and Amazon Studios chief Roy Price of keeping quiet about the Weinstein Co. founder.
Mr. Damon said the allegations against Mr. Weinstein made him “sick to my stomach.”
“If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it,” Mr. Damon told Deadline.
Ben Affleck tweeted an apology Oct. 11 after actress Hilarie Burton accused him of groping her in 2003: “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”
Meanwhile, Casey Affleck has been hit with a fresh round of criticism over a 2010 sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by two female crew members. He denied the allegations and ultimately settled the case.
“Where’s Casey Affleck amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal?” asked The San Jose Mercury News in a Monday headline.
After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences kicked out Mr. Weinstein, ThinkProgress asked why it hadn’t done the same for Bill Cosby, Casey Affleck and Roman Polanski, the Oscar-winning director now living in exile in France after admitting to raping a 13-year-old girl.
“Harvey Weinstein was immediately voted out. Why are other alleged sexual predators still in?” asked ThinkProgress’s Jessica Goldstein.
Oliver Stone, the Oscar-winning director, said initially that Mr. Weinstein “shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system,” then said upon further review that he was “appalled” and praised the women who went public with their stories.
After his first statement, however, former Playboy model Carrie Stevens told “Inside Edition” that Mr. Stone “reached out and grabbed my breast” at a party in the 1990s when she was 22. So far he has not publicly responded.
After denouncing Mr. Weinstein’s behavior as “indefensible,” George Clooney found himself under fire from former “ER” co-star Vanessa Marquez, who said in an Oct. 10 tweet that “Clooney helped blacklist me when I spoke up abt harassment on ER.”
Mr. Clooney has denied it. “I had no idea Vanessa was blacklisted,” he told E! News. “I take her at her word. I was not a writer or a producer or a director on that show. I had nothing to do with casting. I was an actor and only an actor.”
Meanwhile, Amazon Entertainment chief Roy Price resigned Tuesday after “The Man in the High Castle” executive producer Isa Hackett Dick accused him of propositioning her in 2015. He has not commented publicly on the allegation.
So far Mr. Crowe has not commented on the allegation that he contacted The New York Times in 2004 in order to kill a story about Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Damon, who was also accused of doing so, has denied it.
Mr. Hoffman predicted that more disclosures would be forthcoming.
“There’s clearly been a casting couch culture in Hollywood,” said Mr. Hoffman. “And as more people have the courage to come forward and talk, more will be emboldened to do so.”