Molly Ringwald Recalls Jeffrey Katzenberg Comment in Revealing Essay About Hollywood Harassment
In a statement to THR, Katzenberg said, "That Molly Ringwald had to read those words attributed to me and believe I said them is horrifying, mortifying and embarrassing to me."
In an essay for The New Yorker, Molly Ringwald reflected on her own experiences with sexual harassment in Hollywood, including an explicit comment once made by Jeffrey Katzenberg.
"The head of a major studio — and, incidentally, someone who claims himself to be horrified by the Harvey allegations — was quoted as saying, 'I wouldn't know [Molly Ringwald] if she sat on my face,'" she said of a Movieline article in the 1990s, which included a reported quote from Katzenberg at the end of a paragraph about the song "Molly" by alternative rock group Sponge (included below). "Maybe he was misquoted. If he ever sent a note of apology, it must have gotten lost in the mail."
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Katzenberg said, "That Molly Ringwald had to read those words attributed to me and believe I said them is horrifying, mortifying and embarrassing to me. Anyone who knows me now or back then knows I do not use language like that as a matter of course, or tolerate it. Ms. Ringwald, 22 years too late, I am deeply, deeply sorry."
The actress, currently appearing on the CW series Riverdale, also recalled when, at 13 years old, "a fifty-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection;" at 14 years old, "a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set," and later being asked by a director "to let the lead actor put a dog collar around my neck," though it had nothing to do with the project's plot.
Her New Yorker piece, titled "All the Other Harvey Weinsteins," comes after more than 40 women have accused the disgraced Hollywood mogul of sexual harassment and assault, dating back decades.
"I could go on about other instances in which I have felt demeaned or exploited, but I fear it would get very repetitive. Then again, that's part of the point," she explained of harassment being pervasive in Hollywood. "I never talked about these things publicly because, as a woman, it has always felt like I may as well have been talking about the weather. Stories like these have never been taken seriously. Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can't take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they're lucky, they might get elected president."
She continued, "My hope is that Hollywood makes itself an example and decides to enact real change, change that would allow women of all ages and ethnicities the freedom to tell their stories — to write them and direct them and trust that people care. I hope that young women will one day no longer feel that they have to work twice as hard for less money and recognition, backward and in heels. It's time."
In the op-ed, Ringwald also recalled working with Weinstein on the 1990 movie Strike It Rich. Ringwald was 20 years old at the time and fresh off starring in Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. "Thankfully, I wasn't cajoled into a taxi, nor did I have to turn down giving or getting a massage. I was lucky," she wrote. Still, she was warned that Harvey Weinstein and brother Bob "were becoming powerful and were difficult to work with, and that it was inadvisable to cross them," and saw how Harvey Weinstein changed the film's name, script, edit and advertising.
"I was always a little mystified that Harvey had the reputation as a great tastemaker when he seemed so noticeably lacking in taste himself," she wrote. "But he did have a knack for hiring people who had it, and I figured that's what passes for taste in Hollywood."
Ringwald later sued for being denied her gross percentage of the film, and never worked with the Weinsteins afterward.
Katzenberg — the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios and CEO of DreamWorks Animation, who now runs the digital media firm WndrCo — previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he "was paralyzed" when Weinstein asked him and other top Hollywood executives to publicly vouch for him ahead of his termination from The Weinstein Co. He responded to Weinstein's request by saying, "You have done terrible things to a number of women over a period of years. I cannot in any way say this is OK with me. … It's not at all, and I am sickened by it, angry with you and incredibly disappointed in you."
Jackie Strause contributed to this report.
Oct. 17, 3:30 p.m. Updated with Katzenberg response.