NEW YORK – How have Hollywood and Broadway responded to an exposé detailing routine abuse and bullying by producer Scott Rudin? Mostly, with crickets.
The Hollywood Reporter’s cover story Wednesday on Rudin was, undoubtedly, a must-read for anyone in the film, television and theater businesses. Stories about a Hollywood heavyweight throwing glass bowls, staples and baked potatoes at underlings are hard to put down.
The trade publication spoke to four former employees who agreed to be named on the record to detail stories about the toxic work environment, in addition to some who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. One former employee describes how Rudin was irate after an assistant couldn’t get him a seat on a sold-out flight. He allegedly smashed a computer monitor down on the assistant’s hand hard enough to send the assistant to the hospital. Another described a glass bowl being thrown near an employee, prompting a panic attack from a human resources staffer. A former executive coordinator alleges she was fired for having Type 1 Diabetes, and didn't sue for fear of being blacklisted.
Rudin, one of the most successful and powerful producers, with a heap of Oscars and Tonys to show for it, has long been known for torturous treatment of an ever-churning parade of assistants — 119 in a five-year span, he once said. Such behavior has long been engrained — and sometimes even celebrated — in show business going back to the likes of MGM head Louis B. Mayer and, more recently, Broadway producer David Merrick. The overbearing, pugnacious producer is a type, one that Rudin, according to this report and others, epitomizes. For some, surviving Rudin appears to be a rite of passage — an intensely demanding crucible that has been a training ground for some of the business's top executives.
“The thin-skinned guys don’t like it,” Rudin told The Wall Street Journal in 2005. “The thick-skinned people... understand that I’m working as hard as them.”
But if Hollywood has taken steps to reform following a #MeToo upheaval that began with sexual abuse allegations against another much-rewarded New York uber-producer, Harvey Weinstein, the initial response to The Hollywood Reporter’s story on Rudin suggests the industry is less eager to curb cultures of verbal abuse and workplace toxicity.
“I’m astonished given what’s happened in the last few years that have been so revolutionary and meaningful and important,” Anthony Rapp, who starred in “Rent” on Broadway and in “Star Trek: Discovery” on TV, told The Associated Press on Friday. “It’s not exactly controversial to say that abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. That’s like the least someone can do, and that almost no one has done it is sad and infuriating to me.”
No studio that has regularly done business with Rudin has commented on the article, nor have any of the A-list names that Rudin has helped propel to more than 150 Oscar nominations and 17 Tonys. On Thursday, his latest film — the anticipated Netflix adaptation of “The Woman in the Window”— went forward with a virtual trailer release attended by the film’s starry cast, including Amy Adams, Anthony Mackie, Julianne Moore and Wyatt Russell. Rudin, himself, hasn’t responded to the article or the AP's request for comment.