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Independent Spirit Awards hosts Nick Kroll and John Mulaney wasted no time in addressing the wave of sexual misconduct claims that rocked Hollywood in recent months.
The comedians, in their second consecutive turn hosting the independent-film ceremony, joked that while last year “everyone famous died; this year everyone famous wishes they were dead.”
“The rules have changed,” Kroll said. “Guys are like, ‘What, I can’t hug a woman anymore?’ Not the way you’re doing it, all low and breathy like, ‘It’s 1998 somewhere, baby.””
They went on to reveal their own stories about Harvey Weinstein and Brett Ratner.
Mulaney recalled meeting with Weinstein in 2015 about his company’s TV division, saying that the disgraced mogul complained that the TV side of The Weinstein Co. took up too much of his time and no one would remember his movies.
“Forget Pulp Fiction. My tombstone is going to say Project Runway,” Mulaney said Weinstein remarked.
“It’s gonna say, ‘XXL Unmarked Grave,'” Mulaney said.
Kroll, meanwhile, recalled working with Ratner on a pilot nine years ago, and he said the director — accused of sexually harassing and assaulting multiple women, including Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge — had a habit of scratching his balls.
“One day he was really going to town on his sad sack,” Kroll said. “We watched him walk away and walk over to the craft services table, where he then touched six different donuts. And then he grabbed one and walked away. So I’m thinking, ‘If that’s the way the guy treats donuts…'”
They joked about the issue of whether you can separate the art from the artist.
“With Kevin Spacey, can we still love K-Pax?” the hosts asked. “And what about Woody Allen and his last 20 unwatchable movies? Can I still not watch them, or must I reevaluate based on these new allegations that were a matter of public record 30 years ago?”
They also critiqued the apologies given by Louis C.K., Mario Batali, and Spacey after they’d been accused of inappropriate behavior. C.K., the hosts noted, said three times in his apology that the women he allegedly sexually harassed “admired him.” And Spacey, in a “Keyser Soze-like twist,” used his apology for allegedly behaving inappropriately toward Anthony Rapp, to come out as a gay man. Batali, meanwhile, included a recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls in an email apology for his behavior, something Kroll joked about using an exaggerated Italian accent.
“Mamma mia, that’s a spicy apology,” Kroll said.
In a prerecorded intro about the beach-set awards, Kroll and Mulaney joked that this year Hollywood “threw out the bad apples” and urged people to “break out the pineapple daiquiris” for the independent-film celebration.
The Spirit Awards is just the latest, and second-to-last before the Oscars, awards show this season to confront the months’ worth of claims of sexual harassment and assault made against some of the most powerful men in Hollywood, starting with Weinstein, who was alleged to have engaged in decades of inappropriate behavior in October exposés in The New York Times and the New Yorker.
Ahead of the show, Kroll, who admitted he and Mulaney were still working on their material, said the pair were trying to determine how to approach the issue in a humorous way: “It’s such an important part of the last year, in filmmaking, the entertainment industry and the larger culture. I think we’re just trying to figure it out. Hopefully we’ll do something that is funny and acknowledges everything that’s happening.”
The Golden Globes was the first high-profile, televised awards show to address the issue, coming just days after a number of powerful Hollywood women launched the Time’s Up initiative to combat systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace.
Time’s Up pins and an all-black dress code dominated the Globes red carpet as a number of prominent women in Hollywood attended the show with female activists as their guests. Host Seth Meyers skewered Weinstein and Spacey in his monologue, which he joked was being watched like a dog being shot into outer space. The women who took the stage that night also offered empowering messages of equality.
Days later, the Screen Actors Guild Awards served as a celebration of women, with first-ever host Kristen Bell and an all-female roster of presenters. On the SAG Awards red carpet, the all-black palette of the Golden Globes gave way to a brightly colored assortment of dresses and fewer stars sporting Time’s Up pins.
A week after that, the Grammys featured women and men wearing or carrying white roses in support of those who experienced sexual harassment or assault. Still, the music awards ceremony was widely criticized for its lack of female nominees and winners, and Recording Academy president Neil Portnow sparked additional backlash when he said backstage that women should “step up” to have a greater presence at future Grammys.
More recently, the BAFTA Awards in London saw women sporting black and being accompanied by activist guests while the Time’s Up message featured heavily in speeches given during the ceremony.
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