Tour Producer Drops Tavis Smiley Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims
Smiley has been indefinitely suspended from his PBS talk show.
Tavis Smiley's career has taken another hit, as live producer Mills Entertainment pulled out of backing the TV host's theatrical production focusing on the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life.
Smiley, who has been indefinitely suspended from his PBS talk show and lost his Walmart sponsorship, was to launch a nationwide 40-city tour of Death of a King: A Live Theatrical Experience, based on his 2014 book Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year.
But Mills Entertainment said Friday that "in light of the recent allegations," it is "suspending our relationship with" Smiley. "We take seriously the allegations," the statement added.
PBS suspended Smiley after an independent investigation uncovered "multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS."
Smiley has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. In a lengthy Facebook post, Smiley responded to the allegations, saying PBS "overreacted" and calling it "a rush to judgment." He said he has never harassed anyone and claimed one relationship the network uncovered was consensual. PBS said in reply that it stands by the integrity of the investigation.
The dismissals of Smiley and Charlie Rose at PBS follow dozens of firings and suspensions of prominent men who have been accused of sexual misconduct or harassment. The wave began this fall with allegations lodged against Harvey Weinstein and has impacted numerous high-profile TV and media figures, with Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, journalist Mark Halperin, NPR news chief Michael Oreskes, reporter Glenn Thrush and New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier all felled, among others.
According to Variety, the investigation found that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates and created "a verbally abusive and threatening environment."