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Over 30 former and current ICM employees — from agents to former assistants — have made claims ranging from sexual harassment to a pervasive workplace bullying culture, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
Published on Wednesday by reporter Wendy Lee, the wide-ranging story focused on individuals who filed complaints to the agency’s HR department. The claims stand in stark contrast to ICM’s outward-facing commitment to diversity and gender parity. (ICM signed a boardroom gender parity pledge, 50/50 by 2020, and launched an initiative titled Diversity/ICM that is meant to recruit more Black agent trainees.)
The most serious of the claims include an incident in which partner Steve Alexander allegedly exposed himself to a female film finance executive in a car. Both Alexander, whose clients include John Travolta and Tatiana Maslany, and the executive declined to comment to the paper. In another incident detailed in the Times report, agent Kevin Hussey allegedly attempted to kiss a client in a hotel bar, after which the client, who is not named, was moved to two female agents.
The story also centered on an allegedly pervasive bullying culture, one where assistants are said to be subject to a range of intimidation. Music agent Mitch Blackman allegedly threatened to “break” an assistant’s ankles, while another assistant alleged that former agent Mark Gordon threw a package at her head, according to the report. VP of communications Brad Turell was alleged to have openly berated an assistant, yelling that she acted like she worked “in a f— nail salon.” Turell told the Times: “I spoke in a tone that I regret, apologized for, have learned from and have not repeated,” and added: “However, let me be perfectly clear, I vehemently deny making the statement that is ascribed to me here. It never happened.”
Black assistants were allegedly asked to appear in a promotional video for the agent trainee program, so that the program appeared more diverse than it was, the report stated.
While no misconduct is alleged against CEO Chris Silbermann, the story claims he “cultivates an insider culture,” which allows for a toxic environment.
In a blanket statement given to the Times, ICM offered that the agency “does not tolerate harassment, bullying or other inappropriate conduct. HR investigates all reports received and addresses each with appropriate disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal.” Ahead of the article publishing, the agency hired Rubenstein Public Relations to handle crisis PR.
The agency’s marquee clients include Shonda Rhimes, who is one of the founders of anti-sexual harassment organization Time’s Up.
Allegations of workplace sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood have been in the spotlight since 2017, when women came forward en masse against Harvey Weinstein, who is currently serving a 23-year sentence for sex crimes in New York state and is still awaiting extradition to Los Angeles to sexual assault charges.
More recently, there has been a backlash against abusive behaviors faced by assistants and support staff. After a Hollywood Reporter exposé in April about Oscar-winning movie producer Scott Rudin, he announced that he would be stepping back from his work in both Broadway and film.
May 5, 3:00 p.m. Updated to include a statement from Time’s Up foundation CEO Tina Tchen.
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