7:05pm PT by Kate Stanhope, Pamela McClintock
Netflix Severs Ties With Kevin Spacey, Drops 'Gore' Movie
Netflix is officially severing ties with Kevin Spacey amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment made against the House of Cards series star and executive producer.
Additionally, the streamer has scrapped a Gore Vidal biopic starring Spacey.
"Netflix will not be involved with any further production of House of Cards that includes Kevin Spacey. We will continue to work with MRC [Media Rights Capital] during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show," a representative for the streamer said Friday in a statement. "We have also decided we will not be moving forward with the release of the film Gore, which was in postproduction, starring and produced by Kevin Spacey."
MRC issued a statement soon after confirming Spacey has been suspended from the series. “While we continue the ongoing investigation into the serious allegations concerning Kevin Spacey’s behavior on the set of House of Cards, he has been suspended, effective immediately. MRC, in partnership with Netflix, will continue to evaluate a creative path forward for the program during the hiatus,” the company stated.
Netflix's decision to cut ties with the actor comes days after Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp alleged in a BuzzFeed News interview published Oct. 29 that Spacey made unwanted sexual advances toward him in 1986, when Spacey was 26 and Rapp was 14. Spacey issued a statement in which he said he did not remember the incident but "sincerely apologized." He also drew ire when he used that same statement to come out as a gay man.
On Monday, Netflix confirmed that the upcoming sixth season of House of Cards would be its last, a decision the streamer said predated the allegations made against Spacey. However, shortly thereafter, Netflix and producer MRC said in a statement they were "deeply troubled" by the claim made by Rapp and that executives from both companies were traveling to the show's Maryland set to meet with cast and crew "to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported." (MRC is co-owned by Eldridge Industries, which also owns The Hollywood Reporter.)
On Tuesday, production on the sixth season was suspended indefinitely, and the following day, Spacey's rep released a statement saying he was "taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment."
Allegations continued to mount against Spacey, however, including from several House of Cards employees who spoke to CNN about their experiences with the actor. One production assistant recalled Spacey putting his hands down the assistant's pants without his consent and then later touching him inappropriately a second time. Another crewmember recalled Spacey massaging his shoulders and touching his stomach.
"We are deeply troubled to learn about these new allegations that are being made to the press concerning Kevin Spacey’s interaction with members of the crew of House of Cards," MRC said in a statement at the time. "As the producer of the show, creating and maintaining a safe working environment for our cast and crew has always been our top priority. We have consistently reinforced the importance of employees reporting any incident without fear of retaliation, and we have investigated and taken appropriate actions following any complaints."
MRC said it had set up an anonymous complaint hotline, crisis counselors and sexual-harassment legal advisers for the crew of House of Cards. The company also said it would "continue to thoroughly investigate all current claims and any new claims that are formally brought to our attention, and will continue to monitor our own production and practices to ensure that our cast and crew feel safe and supported."
In its statement, MRC also confirmed that someone on the crew had complained about "a specific remark and gesture" made by Spacey during production on season one, back in 2012. "Immediate action was taken following our review of the situation, and we are confident the issue was resolved promptly to the satisfaction of all involved. Mr. Spacey willingly participated in a training process, and since that time, MRC has not been made aware of any other complaints involving Mr. Spacey."
Netflix also responded to the allegations made on Wednesday with a new statement: "Netflix was just made aware of one incident, five years ago, that we were informed was resolved swiftly. On Tuesday, in collaboration with MRC, we suspended production, knowing that Kevin Spacey wasn’t scheduled to work until Wednesday. Netflix is not aware of any other incidents involving Kevin Spacey on-set. We continue to collaborate with MRC and other production partners to maintain a safe and respectful working environment. We will continue to work with MRC during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the production, and have nothing further to share at this time."
The uncertain future of House of Cards comes after two episodes of the show's sixth and final season had already been shot. Sources told THR on Friday that the writers are actively reworking the final season, which was almost entirely written already, to write Spacey out. Sources expected production to be suspended for at least two weeks as the writers figured out a way to remove Spacey's Frank Underwood from the narrative. In addition to writing the star out of the show, a total shutdown of the series is also still considered a possibility, albeit less likely.
Writing Spacey out of House of Cards would not be a stretch, as the Frank Underwood character dies in the Michael Dobbs book that inspired the Netflix series. In recent days, speculation has grown that co-star Robin Wright, who plays Frank's wife and political partner, Claire, could become the show's centerpiece.
Additionally, Netflix is mulling potential House of Cards spinoffs, one of which would center on loyal sidekick Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly).
In addition to starring on the drama, Spacey also served as an executive producer along with his producing partner, Dana Brunetti, through their Trigger Street Productions banner. Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner, won a Golden Globe for his performance as Frank Underwood, in addition to earning five Emmy nominations for each of the show's five seasons.
House of Cards has played a huge role in putting Netflix on the map when it comes to original series. Boasting two film stars, Spacey and Wright, as well as an Oscar-nominated director in David Fincher, the drama was a splashy foray into original series when it launched in 2013. The show became Netflix's first major awards contender, winning three Emmys its first season, including best directing for Fincher, and earning nominations for best drama series, actor in a drama series and actress in a drama series.
As for Gore, the biopic had wrapped shooting in Italy in recent days, just as the scandal erupted. Directed by Michael Hoffman, Gore has been in production for several months. The film, based on Jay Parini's 2015 biography Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal, focused on the period following Gore’s loss to Jerry Brown for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate. Gore retreated to his Italian villa, La Rondinaia, on the Amalfi Coast in a bacchanalian attempt to circumvent his writer’s block and sense of ennui.
Michael Stuhlbarg played Vidal's longtime companion, Howard Austen (Vidal refused to identify as a gay man). Griffin Dunne starred as famed American composer Leonard Bernstein, while Nikolai Kinski played renowned Russian dancer-choreographer Rudolf Nureyev, both of whom regularly visited Gore’s cliffside villa. Douglas Booth and Freya Mavor starred as a young couple vacationing in the area.
Netflix had planned a 2018 release for Gore.
Spacey is the latest Hollywood figure to face sexual-harassment allegations. Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment by more than 70 women and was terminated from The Weinstein Co. Earlier this week, Brett Ratner also was accused of sexual misconduct by six women in the Los Angeles Times, and Warner Bros. severed ties with the director soon after.