End of harassment in Hollywood? Maybe not

For 15 years, we have gathered for drinks, from the time we were nascent assistants, Hollywood women in varying roles.

We shared "anecdotes" of men misbehaving in hushed tones, naming names. We shared to protect one another.

We mostly stayed quiet.

We feared retaliation.

And we rose up the ranks.

This silence, the silence of both men and women in this business, created a Harvey Weinstein.

It is thrilling (and, obviously, incredibly distressing) that finally we are talking about it.

But for how long? Here is our fear: that The Great Harvey Weinstein Implosion of 2017 could become the Great Harvey Weinstein Rebirth of 2018. Or 2020. Or 2025.

We have seen this before - moments when we call out celebrity wrongdoers, then get complacent and continue to support their work.

Mel Gibson was a pariah after his drunk, racist and misogynistic rants. But time passed.

There is not one agency today that would not put its clients in the new films by one of this year's Oscar nominees (for Best Director for Hacksaw Ridge).

We believe Weinstein still does not understand the gravity of what he has done.

"We all make mistakes," he said.

He may well get a second chance.

Even if his peers are a little more skittish about working with him for now, he has talent and connections.

A lot of people have made money off his work and there is a good chance they would take the risk again to have his magic touch.

Other producers, directors and talent embroiled in scandal have gone on to create lucrative art.

Just look at the performance of Hacksaw Ridge which netted US$175 million (S$236 million) in ticket sales.

Or the career of Roman Polanski, who, after raping a 13-year-old girl, made many more movies and won an Oscar for The Pianist in 2003.

Weinstein may be toxic to Big Talent for a while, maybe even forever. But he will find some writers and directors desperate to make films. Financiers eager for someone with a track record to invest in.

Most moviegoers are not aware of what goes on behind the closed doors of a Hollywood office (or a Peninsula Hotel room). If the movie looks good, they go. There are small handfuls of boycotters, but their financial impact is negligible.

Hollywood contains multitudes: Yes, we work alongside power-hungry sociopaths who prey on the dreamers. And we also work alongside lovable weirdos and artists - people who want to entertain, emote and make this planet a more open and better place for everyone.

The latter are emboldened. An entertainment industry lawyer told us that almost half her phone calls in the past few months were about harassment, perpetrated by people who are not Weinstein.

In the months since Inauguration Day, talent agencies, news agencies and several production companies have fired employees accused of Weinstein-esque deeds.

It suddenly feels as if our peers and co-workers in Hollywood are awake. His clones across town are scared right now.

But will the nightmare really go away?


•Gillian Bohrer is an executive vice-president of production at Fox 2000 Pictures. Dara Resnik is a TV writer and co-executive producer, most recently, on Amazon's I Love Dick.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2017, with the headline 'End of harassment in Hollywood? Maybe not'. Print Edition | Subscribe