The landscape in Hollywood appears to be shifting, thanks to careful investigative reporting and brave sources who have substantiated years of rumors of sexual harassment and assault committed by powerful figures like actor Kevin Spacey, producer Harvey Weinstein, and comedian Louis C.K.
As the topic remains in the headlines and the #MeToo movement pushes onward, new allegations of harassment and misconduct both inside and outside the entertainment industry seem to be published on an almost daily basis.
But while in many cases the entertainment industry has acted swiftly to break its ties with the alleged predators — canceling their films and TV shows and development deals, firing them from jobs, booting them from professional guilds, and issuing many statements about the need for change — there are some notable exceptions whose “open secrets” and even convictions have not prevented them from continuing to work in the industry. The proof of Hollywood’s willingness to really stamp out predators in its midst will come in how the industry deals with these men.
Hollywood has been making heartening strides toward cleaning house ...
The repercussions have been swift and visible. After hundreds of women came forward alleging sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape perpetrated by Weinstein, he was ejected from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy, and fired from his own company.
Spacey, accused by more than a dozen men and women of charges ranging from harassment to attempted rape, has been dropped by his agent and publicist, effectively fired from Netflix’s House of Cards, and — in an unprecedented move — replaced in the role of J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s new film All the Money in the World, after the film had been completed. It’s still scheduled for release on December 22; Spacey’s scenes will be reshot with Christopher Plummer taking over as Getty, and Scott is reportedly footing the bill along with the movie’s producer, Imperative Entertainment.
And after allegations of harassment against C.K. surfaced, HBO removed his past work from its streaming services and canceled his appearance in a forthcoming comedy special. Netflix announced that it will no longer move forward with a planned C.K. standup special. The release of C.K.’s film I Love You, Daddy, which was slated to hit theaters on November 17 after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, was canceled by its distribution company the Orchard and will not be eligible for any of this year’s industry or critics awards. And FX Networks, which had a deal with C.K.’s production company Pig Newton through which C.K. served as an executive producer on the shows Baskets, Better Things, One Mississippi, and The Cops, announced that it was canceling the deal.
These three cases aren’t the only ones of their kind — and it seems likely that more allegations and revelations are on the way. It feels like Hollywood is cleaning house. Hollywood’s swift efforts to expunge Weinstein, Spacey, and C.K. are heartening — especially when viewed alongside parallel cases in politics, such as the horrifying attempts to downplay similarly carefully reported allegations against figures like Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl.
... but there are some prominent lingering exceptions
Few people who’ve been in the industry for any length of time really believed it would ever happen. After all, convicted child rapist Roman Polanski has continued to work in the film industry for decades, if not in the United States; his most recent film, Based on a True Story, premiered in competition at Cannes this summer, and he was honored at Paris’s Cinémathèque Française just last month.
Woody Allen — who has operated within the shadow of sexual abuse allegations by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, for years — also continues to work in Hollywood with relative impunity. Allen and Mia Farrow, who adopted Dylan together while in a long-term relationship, were dating at the time of the alleged abuse; Allen later had an affair with Farrow’s adopted daughter from her previous marriage, Soon-Yi Previn, eventually marrying her in 1997. Amid several high-profile harassment and assault allegations in the news, Mia Farrow tweeted on November 10 that “There are rarely witnesses when a pedophile molests. Children too must be believed.”
There are several additional layers of irony to Allen’s case as well. His and Farrow’s biological son, Ronan Farrow, has sharply criticized his father and the entertainment industry for silencing his sister, and he has emerged as one of the most vital journalists working today in terms of covering sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, having played a major role in exposing Weinstein, writing a series of blistering New Yorker articles about the producer. And unrelatedly, C.K.’s canceled film clearly stylistically references Allen’s film Manhattan and possibly skewers Allen himself, via a character played by John Malkovich: an octogenarian who preys on underage girls and seems partly based on Allen.
Those are just two of the most famous examples of men who continue to work in the industry despite being accused of sexual crimes against minors. So insiders’ skepticism that allegations against Weinstein and similar figures would actually affect those men’s careers in substantial ways is perfectly warranted.
Are things changing? The events of the past few weeks seem to indicate as much — that Hollywood is finally giving up on its long-cherished myth of the genius whose abuse is something that others must tolerate in the name of art.
But color me skeptical. As reports of firings and film cancellations have rolled through my newsfeed and into my inbox over the past few weeks, so too have invitations to screenings of Wonder Wheel, Allen’s latest film, which closed the New York Film Festival in October and is scheduled to open in theaters on December 1.
For now, Wonder Wheel remains untouched on the release schedule. If it stays there, I’ll be less convinced that Hollywood is ready to really deal with its demons, and more certain that money is still the loudest voice at the table. But I love and believe in movies, and for the sake of the many filmmakers out there who aren’t predatory monsters, I hope Hollywood goes all the way in getting its house in order.