It Has to Get Bad Before There’s Change?

Published: December 18, 2017

By Jim Lichtman
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“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998.”

That’s film director Peter Jackson talking about the blacklist producer Harvey Weinstein created for actresses Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd who refused his sexual overtures.

“I realize,” Jackson said, “that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing.”

Learning this, Sorvino tweeted, “There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you, Peter Jackson, for being honest. I’m just heartsick.”

And it gets worse.

According to The New York Times (Dec. 15), “Three more women have accused the actor Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, providing detailed allegations of encounters in a recording studio, in a station wagon and in a hotel room decades ago, according to interviews published Thursday in Variety.”

“Cori Thomas,” Variety writes (Dec. 14), “was in high school when she says Dustin Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room. Melissa Kester was a recent college graduate when Hoffman allegedly sexually assaulted her while recording audio for the film Ishtar. A third woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Hoffman assaulted her in the back of a station wagon and manipulated her into a subsequent sexual encounter that left her traumatized.”

Further, The Times reports (Dec. 15), “The police in New York on Thursday said they were looking into claims that Russell Simmons, the co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, had a history of violent sexual misconduct after mounting reports accusing him of rape. …

“Tina Baker, an ’80s pop singer who was managed by Mr. Simmons and said that he raped her in his New York apartment in late 1990 or early 1991, said that she had been contacted by a detective from the Police Department’s Special Victims squad. Drew Dixon, who worked for Mr. Simmons at Def Jam in the mid-90s, told The New York Times that Mr. Simmons raped her in his apartment in 1995; a detective contacted her on Thursday as well, she said.”

While police are examining the allegations, Hollywood is taking action.

“Anita Hill,” NBC News reports (Dec. 16), “will helm a new commission tasked with taking on the pervasive issue of sexual misconduct in Hollywood.”

Anita Hill is remembered as the woman who charged then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearing.

“Hill,” NBC adds, “an attorney and academic, was tapped Friday as the chair of the Hollywood Commission for Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which was created and being funded by top industry executives. They include Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, co-chair of the Nike Foundation Maria Eitel, entertainment lawyer Nina Shaw and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein.”

As reported in The Washington Post (Dec. 16), “Kennedy, in a statement, said the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace ‘will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and interrelated causes of the problems of parity and power.’

“The list of other names backing the commission reads like a who’s who of Hollywood power brokers, including super agent Ari Emanuel, Disney chairman Bob Iger, CBS chairman Leslie Moonves and Atlantic Records chairman Julie Greenwald, among 20 others.

“Earlier this month, Hill spoke before a packed crowd at the Beverly Hills offices of the United Talent Agencies, telling the entertainment professionals gathered there that she saw the wave of sexual harassment allegation as part of the “arc that had been bending toward justice.”

“Earlier this week,” The Post adds, “former vice president Joe Biden expressed regret over the way Hill had been treated in 1991 when she testified about Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he was the chairman of at the time. ‘I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill,’ the former Democratic senator from Delaware said in an interview with Teen Vogue. ‘I owe her an apology.’

“ ‘It is time to end the culture of silence,’ said Hill, in a statement about the new commission. ‘I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.’ ”


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