Projects shelved, Oscars race rattled: Hollywood in chaos after a string of sex scandals

Accusations of sexual assault against movie producer Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates to accusations against other entertainment figures including Spacey, Toback, Ratner as some were already public against Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby. PHOTO: AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) - Projects have been shelved, film releases cancelled, sets shuttered, studios threatened, the Oscars rattled - this is the chaos confronting Hollywood following sex scandals that have brought down power players like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Brett Ratner.

In the month since The New Yorker and The New York Times published allegations of serial predatory behaviour by producer Weinstein - some 100 women have now accused him of misconduct ranging from harassment to rape - people who said they had been victimised have felt emboldened to voice allegations against men who had been seen as untouchable.

Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner, and Ratner, a blockbuster director, have also been accused of sexual transgressions, while other actors, managers and agents are in the hot seat.

"Who's next?" the Los Angeles Times asked on Sunday.

"There's been scandals in Hollywood since the silent movie age but it was one person or one incident," said Tim Gray, an editor at the entertainment trade magazine Variety. "I've been at Variety for 30 years, I've never seen something like this."

Every project linked to The Weinstein Company, co-founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob, is now toxic, whereas a few months ago it had the sheen of prestige.

Director Oliver Stone, who initially defended Weinstein, has withdrawn from the Guantanamo television series that they had been collaborating on.

The first Weinstein Company film to come out following the scandal, Amityville: The Awakening, took in a measly US$742 in its one-day theatrical release, according to Box Office Mojo.

Weinstein's company, already weakened by a series of flops, is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Other studios are also in turmoil. Amazon Studios chairman Roy Price resigned last month after he was suspended following an accusation of sexual harassment.

His ouster contributed to the collapse of an untitled David O. Russell drama series, set to star Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore, which had been a co-production with The Weinstein Company.

With "the Weinstein debacle and another issue at Amazon, everyone kind of walked away and torpedoed it", Moore said in an interview.

Streaming giant Netflix has booted Spacey, who spaces spiraling accusations, from its flagship series, House Of Cards. Production of the last season, which had been due to air in 2018, was suspended.

Netflix also scuttled the release of Gore, a biopic about American writer Gore Vidal, a film co-produced by and starring Spacey.

At Warner Bros., the scandal surrounding film-maker Ratner (Rush Hour, The Revenant, Horrible Bosses) has threatened a co-financing deal between the studio and Ratner's RatPac Entertainment worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The studio has also removed Ratner from the producing role of a much-anticipated adaption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch. "This is kind of a lesson for everyone in Hollywood. You know what? Everybody is replaceable," Gray said.

The Oscar race has also been shaken up. Sony Pictures was betting on Spacey as its awards candidate for his role in Ridley Scott's All The Money In The World, but has since scratched that plan.

With four months to go before the Academy Awards, "who knows what we're gonna find about other people in the race", Gray said.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Weinstein from its ranks, but has kept a low profile as the number of its members and honourees facing troubling accusations grows.

People in behind-the-scenes roles in entertainment haven't avoided scrutiny either. Agent Tyler Grasham from APA has been fired, while manager David Guillod from Primary Wave Entertainment was forced to resign, both following sexual assault allegations.

Hollywood has struggled with diversity and accusations of discrimination against racial minorities and women, "but this is taking it a step further. It's not we're ignoring people, it's we're abusing people", Gray said.

He can't imagine Weinstein, Spacey or Ratner ever working again in entertainment.

"Hollywood loves a comeback story, loves to forgive", but "this is not something you can forgive".

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