Watch Top Movie Producers Debate Harassment in Hollywood: "There's a Culture of Paying People Off"
Amy Pascal, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and more discuss the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and why it took so long for people to speak up: "It's like a priest who seems like a great part of the community, so nobody doubts him."
Just two days after an explosive exposé by The New York Times surfaced decades of harassment allegations leveled against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, fellow film producers weighed in on how the revelations may impact the larger industry during a wide-ranging discussion for The Hollywood Reporter's annual TV producer roundtable.
Sitting down with THR editorial director Matthew Belloni, Judd Apatow (The Big Sick), Seth Rogen (The Disaster Artist), Amy Pascal (The Post, Molly's Game), Jason Blum (Get Out), Ridley Scott (Blade Runner 2049, All the Money in the World) and Eric Fellner (Darkest Hour) addressed the claims that Weinstein reached at least eight monetary settlements with women who had accused him of sexual misconduct.
The discussion took place Saturday, before Weinstein was subsequently terminated as co-chairman of The Weinstein Co. on Sunday and days prior to The New Yorker's publication of its own investigative report, in which the film exec was accused of sexual assault and rape.
"There's a culture of paying off people," Apatow said of the industry, explaining that women often feel they need to stay silent in fear of losing work. "They set up a power dynamic that is very difficult for people to figure out what to do about [it]. That's why it lasts for decades, because it's a perfect system."
Likening Weinstein to disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, who was also alleged to have sexually assaulted multitudes of women in decades past, Apatow added, "Then on the side, you give money to charity. It's like a priest who seems like a great part of the community, so nobody doubts him."
The producer noted that he, like many others, was aware of the rumors of Weinstein's alleged behavior, but had never witnessed it.
"It's hard to say, 'Let's go get him!' because we're not a part of it," he told THR. "It's unfortunately up to the people that are truly aware of it."
Apatow stressed the vital role "people on the inside" play in speaking out, saying of both Cosby and Weinstein's alleged payouts, "Bill Cosby had a lot of agents, he had a lot of people that were writing checks to women, and I think the same thing is probably true of Harvey. Someone was writing those checks — somebody knew."
He added, "It's not hard to not be a creep. It's very easy not to act like that. You can respect people, you can respect women, and it's easy. It's demented not to."
Rogen recounted working with the mogul 10 years ago, and vowing never to work with him again after his experience.
"I was like, 'This is a bad dude,'" the actor-producer recalled. "I think someone like him — everyone knows. I remember one of the first stories you heard about him involved inappropriate sexual misconduct."
Rogen slammed the notion of dismissing Weinstein's alleged actions as "old school." In a statement following the Times' report, Weinstein himself said, "I came of age in the '60s and '70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then." His former attorney, Lisa Bloom, who has since resigned as his adviser, also described the Hollywood power player as "an old dinosaur learning new ways."
"There's kind of a wink and acceptance of that type of behavior," Rogen explained. "I think a lot of Hollywood people also like the fact that we work in a business that doesn't have the same rules as other businesses. They're free to have varying personalities. ... That ultimately also allows people to excuse a lot of horribly inappropriate behavior that shouldn't be acceptable."
Former Sony chief and producer Pascal offered similar sentiments, stating she doesn't believe Weinstein is the only one: "I don't think that he's an outlier, and that's probably why a lot of people haven't spoken up."
Commending Weinstein's accusers for coming forward, she added, "It's a tragic situation for our business, and the women who stood up have to be applauded because that's really, really hard to do. ... The silence is deafening. That's the part that we're responsible for."
Blum, who previously worked at Weinstein's Miramax, admitted there is still a "culture of fear" in Hollywood, as Apatow noted: "The industry has a long way to go to have the courage to just say, 'I'm disgusted and I stand by these accusers.'"
Ryan Gosling, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jane Fonda, Julianne Moore and Jennifer Lawrence are among a growing chorus of Hollywood stars who have since publicly condemned Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, Lea Seydoux and Claire Forlani have also come forward to share their own disturbing experiences with the mogul.
Weinstein has also been suspended from BAFTA and dropped as a producer on Disney's Artemis Fowl. On Thursday, NYPD and London police announced they have opened a criminal investigation into the claims made against the exec.