On November 9, former Mad Men staff writer Kater Gordon accused the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, of sexual harassment, alleging that he made a sexually charged remark to her that made her feel “threatened and devalued.” Gordon’s allegation was first reported by the website the Information.
Gordon told the Information that while working late one night together, Weiner told her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked. Gordon, who worked as Weiner’s personal assistant and then writing assistant before joining the show’s writing staff, won an Emmy for her work with Weiner on the show's second season episode “Meditations in an Emergency.” She was let go from the writing staff a year later.
At the time, her departure from the show sparked speculation in industry circles as well as at Deadline, which reported that a source said there was nothing illicit in Gordon and Weiner’s relationship.
Gordon told the Information that Weiner’s remark shook her confidence, but she didn’t tell anyone at the time for fear of losing her job. “I had the Emmy, but instead of being able to use that as a launch pad for the rest of my career, it became an anchor because I felt I had to answer to speculative stories in the press,” she said. “I eventually walked away instead of fighting back.”
Gordon has not worked in television since leaving Mad Men, and has launched a nonprofit organization aimed at educating women and helping them deal with sexual harassment. Weiner won seven Emmys and three Golden Globes for his work on the show, and is currently developing the AMC show The Romanoffs.
The report of Gordon’s allegation came as part of a cascading series of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against a number of powerful figures in Hollywood, including producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., and actor Kevin Spacey. No allegations of physical assault have been made against Weiner, and Gordon’s is the first instance of a harassment claim against the TV writer.
A spokesperson for Weiner issued the following statement: “Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on Mad Men as his writers assistant. He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague.”
Gordon’s allegations also came on the heels of the release of Weiner’s first novel, Heather, The Totality, published on November 7. The novel follows a wealthy couple and their daughter whose privileged lives are disrupted when their neighbors begin construction on their apartment. In an interview with GQ published earlier in the day on November 9, Weiner spoke about misogyny and objectification in the novel, saying that “A feminist reading of this book should take it for what it is. To revel in misogyny and present it, and to say that I’m being critical of it, has never been my goal. I’ve been unapologetically critical of it.”