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Hollywood wracked by chaos in aftermath of sex scandals

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Projects are shelved, film releases cancelled, sets shuttered, studios threatened, the Oscars rattled — this is the chaos confronting Hollywood following sex scandals that have brought down power players like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Brett Ratner.

In the month since The New Yorker and The New York Times published allegations of serial predatory behaviour by producer Weinstein — some 100 women have now accused him of misconduct ranging from harassment to rape — people who said they had been victimised have felt emboldened to voice allegations against men who had been seen as untouchable.

Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner, and Ratner, a blockbuster director, have also been accused of sexual transgressions, while other actors, managers and agents are in the hot seat as well.

“Who's next?” the Los Angeles Times asked on Sunday.

“There's been scandals in Hollywood since the silent movie age but it was one person or one incident,” said Tim Gray, an editor at the entertainment trade magazine Variety.

“I've been at Variety for 30 years, I've never seen something like this,” he said.

TOXIC

Every project linked to The Weinstein Company, co-founded by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob, is now toxic, whereas a few months ago such a relationship was a mark of prestige.

Famed director Oliver Stone, who initially defended Weinstein, has withdrawn from the Guantanamo television series they had been collaborating on.

The first Weinstein Company film to come out following the scandal, Amityville: The Awakening, brought in a measly US$742 in its one-day theatrical release, according to Box Office Mojo.

Weinstein's company, already weakened by a series of flops, is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Other powerful studios find themselves in turmoil, such the entertainment arm of Internet giant Amazon, whose Chairman Roy Price resigned last month after he was suspended following an accusation of sexual harassment.

Price's ouster contributed to the collapse of an untitled David O Russell drama series, set to star Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore, which had been a co-production with The Weinstein Company.

“(With) the Weinstein debacle and another issue at Amazon, everyone kind of walked away and torpedoed it,” Moore said in an interview.

A screenwriter who had been working for months on a serial for Amazon told AFP the project has lost momentum.

EVERYONE IS REPLACEABLE

Streaming giant Netflix is also in crisis. Kevin Spacey, the star of its flagship series House of Cards, faces spiraling accusations including that he attempted to rape a 15-year-old boy in New York.

The actor has been booted from the show and production of the last and final season, which had been due to air in 2018, has been suspended.

Netflix also scuttled the release of Gore, a biopic about American writer Gore Vidal, a film co-produced by and starring Spacey.

At Warner Bros, the scandal surrounding film-maker Ratner ( Rush Hour, The Revenant, Horrible Bosses,) has threatened a co-financing deal between the studio and Ratner's RatPac Entertainment, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The studio has also removed Ratner from the producer role of a much-anticipated adaption of Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch.

“This is [a] kind of a lesson for everyone in Hollywood. You know what? Everybody is replaceable,” Gray said.

The Oscar race has also been shaken up. Sony Pictures was betting on Spacey as its awards season candidate for his role in Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World, but has since scratched that plan.

With four months to go before the Academy Awards, “who knows what we're gonna find about other people in the race”, Gray said.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Weinstein from its ranks, but has kept a low profile as the number of its members and honorees facing troubling accusations grows.

People in behind-the-scenes roles in entertainment haven't avoided scrutiny either. Agent Tyler Grasham of APA has been fired from his job, while Manager David Guillod from Primary Wave Entertainment was forced to resign, following sexual assault allegations against both. Meanwhile actor Danny Masterson is under fire after four women said he had raped them.

“This says there's something wrong with this industry” that wants to be moral and progressive, Gray said.

Hollywood has struggled with diversity and accusations of discrimination against racial minorities and women, “but this is taking it a step further. It's not we're ignoring people, it's we're abusing people.”

Gray can't imagine Weinstein, Spacey or Ratner ever working again in entertainment.

“Hollywood loves a comeback story, loves to forgive... (but) this is not something you can forgive.”

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