Just like that, former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — whose detractors’ names would fill the Aldrich, Mo. phone book — reportedly checked in Oct. 11 at The Meadows, a Wickenburg, Ariz. sex addiction treatment facility whose programs cost more than $37,000 a month.
Newsweek says that as of Oct. 30, 82 established or aspiring female public figures have stepped forward with allegations of Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior on the heels of two recent reports in The New Yorker magazine and The New York Times. Weinstein, the articles say, would invite the girls to private rooms, where he either asked for a massage or sexually assaulted them.
The events reportedly date to the 1970s.New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow added in a Nov. 6 article that Weinstein, 65, had hired private investigators, including former Israeli intelligence agents, to track the actors and journalists involved for the purpose of quashing the reports or disparaging the figures’ characters.
No charges have been brought against Weinstein, whose Oct. 8 termination from the company he co-founded preceded a number of ceremonial sanctions, including his wife’s departure — but arguably, if he felt compelled to enlist the aid of so extensive a network, the reports’ veracity must logically weigh in the balance of possibility.
No, San Diego is by no means L.A. And no, local live theater doesn’t begin to vie for commercial attention with the film industry to the north, whose box office receipts are expected to top $50 billion in 2020 (stage entries see about $250 million run through our economy every year).
But in all its ugly aftermath, abuse is abuse — and recently, a popular local actor with a decidedly level head came to share her own experience with San Diego Story, its distaste echoed by her equally vociferous colleagues.
. . . [A] female cast mate allegedly and tearfully voiced fears for the actor’s safety.
The flap unfolded last month in a wildly animated Facebook exchange between her and a fellow performer (a male) she calls a predator. She alleges that the latter’s conduct involved several instances of uninvited physical contact and rhetoric during rehearsals for a show that ran earlier this year.
Inappropriate touches of the hair and shoulders; suggestions for more arresting wardrobes; solicitous comments on the actor’s physique; offhand remarks that the two should run away together: The reported offenses were lavish and persistent until tech rehearsal, at which time a female cast mate allegedly and tearfully voiced fears for the actor’s safety.
Push had indeed come to shove, with both girls soliciting help from theater officials. From there, the male reportedly extended an apology, explaining that his remarks weren’t meant in sincerity — but the two supposedly kept their distances from then on, as agreed.The actor said she’s aghast at the theater’s virtual inaction on the events, especially since the alleged perpetrator was reportedly known for such behavior. She said she debated leaving the show and that she advised other directors against hiring the man in the future.
From there came the wholly incendiary Facebook thread, colored with several congratulations on the central figure’s bravery and other accounts of discrimination and abuse in local theater.
The alleged perpetrator repeatedly and vehemently denied any and all charges and hasn’t been noted on Facebook since.
An isolated incident? Amid the nature of the modern workplace — and given that where there’s smoke there’s usually fire — that’s absolutely unlikely. Look, for example, at the swollen roster of accusees since the Weinstein revelations. Just as the women have come forward, so too have more than 30 high-profile men been cited as offenders. And they’re from vastly different segments of public life. They include actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C. K., Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and former President George H. W. Bush.
‘I’m ashamed of our community right now. I hope that changes, but right now, I just am.’
For her part, the actor in question doesn’t equivocate on what she’s discovered among her colleagues. For every local theater figure pointing a finger at Harvey Weinstein, she seems to say, three (or more) are pointing back at a theater official or cast member who either isn’t paying attention or doesn’t know how.
“The stories that are coming out; the amount of theaters culpable; the victims that are hurting: I’m ashamed of our community right now,” the actor said.
“I hope that changes, but right now, I just am.”
So am I — not the least because I’ve twice been the target of outrageously inappropriate conduct by gay males from the local theater community. One has since retired; the other has moved out of state.
Sorry to disappoint, dearies, but I’m straight as a gun barrel. If you don’t believe me, ask my native French girlfriend. Even if I weren’t, the men’s actions were wholly and laughably unwelcome and amount to simple assault under San Diego’s municipal code.
Not only did the perps break the law; they chose the wrong target in getting there. I only wish I’d had the presence of mind to act at the time.
[Y]ou know exactly who those millions and millions are, and they you.
I feel at least something of this legion of women’s disheartenment, although I surely don’t assume their inherent risk of livelihood. In any event, I stand among the millions upon millions of men in wholesale support of those who’ve suffered so needless an opprobrium.
If you’re a local theater official or performer who fits the descriptors, you know exactly who those millions and millions are, and they you.
Meanwhile, and at all costs: If you can’t inculcate a basic sense of respect among your cast mates, then get the hell out of the goddamn industry. One Harvey Weinstein is 534 too many.
Martin Jones Westlin is a San Diego Story theater critic, a San Diego Community Newspaper Group editor emeritus and founding principal at Words Are Not Enough editorial consultancy.