One year sure makes a difference. At this time in 2018 we were witnessing a wave of Hollywood accountability regarding sexual assault cases and the #MeToo movement. Any mention of an individual accused of disapproved aggression saw them run out of town.
But recent cases of luminaries accused have not resulted in the same level of professional punishment. Morgan Freeman was able to sidestep eight women accusing him of inappropriate behavior. Actor Geoffrey Rush also has been permitted to deny sexual misconduct alleged by an Australian actress. And recently the journalist Toure’ was accused in similar fashion and allowed to offer up a weak explanation.
The latest may be the least excusable as director Bryan Singer, who already has a history of accusations of sex assaults on minors, has both been dealt new charges of improper behavior and been permitted to keep his job.
#RedSonja producer Avi Lerner said in a statement, “I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise” https://t.co/GB4aUV2vtb
— Vulture (@vulture) January 24, 2019
Not only is this a perplexing defense in the #MeToo era, but considering numerous stories swirling around Singer and producer Avi Lerner it is more astounding.
This week a report came out in The Atlantic that details claims by four brand new individuals who state Singer engaged in sex with them as minors.
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) January 25, 2019
Singer was signed on to direct the reboot of the comic book character “Red Sonja” for $10 million. This is a bit of a gamble, considering there are other controversies involving the director over the hit film “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which has just received a Best Picture nomination for The Oscars.
Singer was chased off of that film’s production and replaced, however the director’s guild has stipulated that he still retain the director credit. When the film won a number of awards at the Golden Globes this month the cast and crew were noted in how they all failed to mention Singer’s name.
Singer has come out with statements of his own that he is being unfairly targeted.
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 23, 2019
The claim of homophobia is nearly laughable, considering the industry is extremely open to homosexuals. Not only that but the lauded film concerns the life of Freddie Mercury, the Queen frontman who was openly gay.
Further undermining Singer’s defense here was the announcement this week that “Rhapsody” was being removed from awards consideration by GLAAD, as a result of the new charges that came out.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 24, 2019
Going to be a tough sell, the story of homophobia, when it is GLAAD who is condemning you.
Additionally Queen guitarist and producer on “Bohemian Rhapsody” Brian May has also changed his position on the director.
Queen guitarist Brian May has apologized on Instagram for defending Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer https://t.co/0IRAGujVW4
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 25, 2019
Yet Singer is permitted to keep working. The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Millennium Films, the studio behind “Red Sonja”, and producer Avi Lerner explained in a statement why he was sticking with his problematic director.
“The over $800 million Bohemian Rhapsody has grossed, making it the highest grossing drama in film history, is testament to his remarkable vision and acumen. I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise.”
Not too difficult to see; the money to be made is far more important to Lerner than acting properly. Interesting his “until proven innocent” statement is rarely afforded to those on the right. A glaring example was seen last fall when that concept was not followed by Senate Democrats as Brett Kavanaugh was being confirmed to the Supreme Court. The importance of an accusation alone, we were told, was enough to have a position denied to a person.
Singer, facing far more credible evidence and corroboration from multiple witnesses, is given benefit of the doubt.
Not entirely surprising, considering the players. Millennium Films, and Avi Lerner himself were hit with a large sexual assault court case in the summer of 2017, by former workers. That case was eventually dropped, after an undisclosed settlement was reached between the studio and the plaintiffs.
Actor Terry Crews (“Brooklyn 99”) was an outspoken male voice last year about harassment he endured. He stated he had been groped and propositioned by a male talent agent and was going to bring a suit over the matter. Lerner is the producer of the ensemble action film “Expendables 4”, and Crews says he was told by Lerner he should drop the case or experience trouble on the set.
Management got a call last week from Avi Lerner producer of EXPENDABLES 4 saying I could avoid any “problems” on the sequel if I dropped my case against @WME.
Guess who’s Sly’s agent?
— terry crews (@terrycrews) February 3, 2018
The agent — Adan Venit, who had been reprimanded by his agency — represents the star of that movie, Sylvester Stallone. As a result of the collusion he was experiencing Crews ended up dropping out of the production entirely.
By all appearances, despite the lectures and statements made by celebrities at various awards shows and red carpets, Hollywood still has a long way to go in purging the industry of deeply entrenched issues.