Harvey Weinstein: Can Woody Allen and others accused survive the fallout?
Woody Allen has a big night coming up.
On Saturday, his already buzzed about new movie Wonder Wheel will have its world premiere as the closing night selection of the 55th New York Film Festival.
That means that Allen could turn up on the red carpet, flanked by his stars Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake.
But how will the crowds react to his presence? The auteur is revered by many as a national treasure for such 1970s films as Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hannah and her Sisters. But others can't forget that he's never been held accountable over accusations he molested his 7-year-old daughter Dylan Farrow more than a quarter century ago.
At Saturday night's premiere, will the crowds cheer Allen, or rain jeers on him? Will reporters fire questions about the fact that Dylan has never backed down from her allegations? Will reporters also demand that Winslet and Timberlake explain why they chose to work with a man accused of abusing a young child? Or will no one ask such questions, thinking now is not the time, now is not the place?
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It's been a monumental week in the history of America's conversation around sexual abuse and workplace harassment, as we've witnessed the spectacular downfall of Harvey Weinstein, one of the most influential figures in American entertainment over the past several decades.
It could also be a game-changing week in the ability of powerful men like Weinstein, or Allen, to evade questions and to silence conversations around their alleged misdeeds.
The outrage over the Weinstein allegations has spilled into widespread soul-searching that could affect all American workplaces, including Silicon Valley and, yes the White House. President Donald Trump has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault but occupies the most powerful office in all the world.
Blockbuster reports in The New York Times and in The New Yorker revealed the extent to which a highly connected "kingmaker" like Weinstein was able to hide numerous allegations of misconduct over the years. His alleged victims include famous actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette.
Three women told The New Yorker that Weinstein raped them, while others said he groped them in ways that constitute sexual assault. As young actresses when their encounters with Weinstein occurred, Paltrow, Sorvino and Arquette all said they feared that would ruin their careers if they reported him.
The Times and New Yorker stories have prompted some of the film industry's top stars to denounce Weinstein. Regular collaborators George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Meryl Streep, as well as Allen's Wonder Wheel star Kate Winslet, all said they were horrified by the allegations and had no idea that the producer allegedly used force or coercion on women.
Former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats, who benefited from Weinstein's generous financial support over the years, have also expressed shock or disgust, with some Senate members announcing they had donated their contributions from him to charities.
With the Weinstein scandal, it seems that fury over workplace harassment and abuse has reached a critical mass, the result of a process of growing accountability that began several years ago with reports that Bill Cosby, one of America's comedy legends, was allegedly responsible for sexually assaulting more than 60 women over a 40-year period.
After the full scope of what The Daily Beast called "the Cosby catastrophe" came into focus, women began to come forward to tell their stories about being victims of famous entertainers, business leaders and politicians. The media likewise became more willing to report on those cases.
That may explain in part why news organisations didn't shy away from pursuing allegations that candidate Donald Trump harassed or assaulted women.
But then Trump practically begged for these inquiries when he accused Clinton, his Democratic opponent, of enabling the alleged serial offences of her husband Bill Clinton by publicly defending him.
Trump also made himself the poster boy for predatory male entitlement when he boasted on the 2005 Access Hollywood recording that he liked grabbing women by the genitals and believed women let him get away with it because he's a celebrity.
Since the Cosby catastrophe, other powerful men have been brought down by harassment allegations or by findings that they encouraged an abusive work environment.
Roger Ailes, who built Fox News into a network television colossus, was fired last year after some two dozen women came forward to accuse him of using his position to try to extract sexual favours. He was followed out the door by Fox News mega-star Bill O'Reilly, ruined by allegations of similar conduct.
Uber founder Travis Kalanick was forced out as CEO for reportedly tolerating a company culture of sexual harassment.
Sexual misconduct allegations have also been circling comedian Louis C.K. for several years. Talk about C.K. acting inappropriately with female writers mostly stayed within the comedy world but the allegations exploded into the mainstream recently when Tig Notaro, one of C.K.'s frequent collaborators, mentioned them in an interview with The Daily Beast. She said he needed to address them and not keep brushing them off as he he has done in the past.
In a Daily Beast story from Monday, writer Marlow Stern wonders which powerful man could next lose his job or his most favoured status among reporters who rely on access to produce content.
Trump is still running the country, and he probably won't lose his job over any of the sexual harassment allegations we already know about. He seems somewhat Teflon in this regard but perhaps not on questions of obstruction of justice, collusion with Russia, or mental fitness to be president.
More vulnerable are men like Allen who have long hoped their controversies were far behind them. That includes former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stern said.
The Terminator actor became the subject of news investigations in the early 2000s that revealed multiple women had accused him of grabbing or groping them on movie sets. Schwarzenegger initially denied the allegations but eventually admitted them somewhat by saying he had a tendency to get "rowdy" on movie sets. He apologised to anyone who was "offended."
The media likes Schwarzenegger these days, probably because he provides a friendly celebrity contrast to Trump, and he seems more conscientious about the responsibilities of public services and of high office. This means that as long as Schwarzenegger stays away from being "rowdy" on film sets or in other settings, he probably won't have to deal with old harassment accusations.
Men who are definitely more vulnerable in a post-Weinstein era are aging directors like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, who both have new movies coming out this fall for awards season consideration.
Polanski has expressed some remorse for some of his previous actions regarding young women.
He pled guilty and spent 42 days in jail for the 1977 sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles. But Polanski's is still so much of an issue because he fled the United States before he was officially sentenced and has been fugitive from U.S. justice ever since.
When the Academy Award-winning director was in Zurich earlier this month promoting his new film Based on a True Story, he expressed anger over the fact that he still can't return to the United States.He believes he has already served his time and the fugitive issue should have been resolved decades ago.
Unfortunately for Polanski's hope for American forgiveness, three other women have come forward in the past seven years to say they were sexually assaulted by him when they were teenagers.
The most recent accuser is German actress Renata Langer who told The New York Times earlier this month that she filed a police report saying the director raped her in February 1972 when she was 15.
As for Allen, it will be interesting to see if he faces a new round of difficult questions about his past in the wake of the Weinstein scandal.
Throughout a criminal investigation and bitter custody battle in 1992 and 1993, Allen maintained that he never molested Dylan and accused Dylan's mother, Mia Farrow, of coaching her to repeat a false story, according to People. Prosecutors opted to not charge Allen, out of concern for Dylan, though they found probable cause to bring a case.
Allen's son Ronan Farrow is the journalist who wrote The New Yorker expose on Weinstein. More than a year ago, Farrow examined the harmful way his father's PR machine and powerful studio backers were helped by the old-school media to prevent accountability in his sister's case.
In an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, Ronan Farrow also said it hurt his sister whenever she saw stars she admired clamor to work for their father or proudly walk the red carpet with him and say glowing things about him to the press.
Ronan Farrow said the ongoing industry support of his father is harmful to women beyond his sister.
"That kind of silence isn't just wrong," Ronan Farrow wrote, "It's dangerous. It sends a message to victims that it's not worth the anguish of coming forward. It sends a message about who we are as a society, what we'll overlook, who we'll ignore, who matters and who doesn't."
When Farrow wrote that essay, Weinstein was still a powerful figure in entertainment and in Democratic politics.
Now Weinstein is an accused sexual predator without a job. He probably won't have any famous friends come to his defense, and his wife of 10 years, Georgina Chapman, also announced Tuesday afternoon that she was taking their young kids and leaving him.
With Farrow at the forefront of investigations into Weinstein, he's also in the position to step up renewed scrutiny of his father.
Moreover, one the A-list stars to denounce Weinstein this week was Kate Winslet, who said in a statement Tuesday that the way Weinstein treated "vulnerable, talented young women is not the way women should ever ever deem to be acceptable or commonplace in any workplace".
With Winslet holding that position on Weinstein, wouldn't she have an opinion on her Wonder Wheel director? Shouldn't she be asked, either before or after she walks the red carpet with him at the New York Film Festival Saturday? Saturday could be a very interesting night.