© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Where Does Hollywood Go After Numerous Allegations Of Sexual Assault And Harassment?


The list keeps growing of powerful Hollywood men accused of sexually harassing and assaulting women. First it was Harvey Weinstein. Then an Amazon Studios executive named Roy Price resigned over similar allegations. Most recently, the LA Times reported over the weekend that more than three dozen women accuse Hollywood director James Toback of harassment. People have described a culture of abuse in Hollywood, and now we're going to explore whether that culture is changing.

Matthew Belloni is editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, and he joins us now. Welcome.


SHAPIRO: If I had asked you a couple months ago before the Weinstein stories how widespread sexual abuse and harassment are in Hollywood, what would you have said?

BELLONI: That's an interesting question. I think I would have said that I didn't know because while Hollywood has a long history of abusive behavior, everything from the famous producer throwing his phone at assistants and that kind of culture of abuse and taking advantage of people, I didn't know the extent of the sexual abuse that was going on. And perhaps that's naivete on my part, or perhaps that's just because there was an entire apparatus that worked to cover it up. But I'm certainly learning a lot, as a lot of people are.

SHAPIRO: Well, how much more are you learning than what we already know publicly? We've seen these reports, about a handful of cases with far more than a handful of victims. How much more do you think is out there?

BELLONI: I think there's a lot out there. I know at my publication we've been inundated with stories that we are vetting and trying to figure out what is reportable. But people are coming forward. And we've published a number of those accounts mostly having to do with Harvey Weinstein. But people are coming forward with their stories. And I think the culture right now is enabling that in a way that we have not seen certainly in the time that I've been in journalism.

SHAPIRO: What is it that changed - because not long ago there were reports about Bill Cosby. That did not create this enormous outpouring of stories. Going all the way back to 1989 Spy magazine was reporting on James Toback, and it was only this weekend that the LA Times published these accounts of more than three dozen women.

BELLONI: I think the Harvey Weinstein thing is a watershed moment. I mean, George Clooney called it a watershed moment in an interview. It has opened the floodgates in a way that we haven't seen because of the horrific nature of the allegations against him and because of the widespread nature. I mean, these are dozens of women that are coming forward.

And people in the industry, I think, feel embarrassed because this was allowed to go on so long. And people kind of knew, maybe didn't know the specifics, but knew Harvey was not a good guy and knew that there were stories of casting couches and things like that. But now people are really motivated to prevent this from happening in the future.

SHAPIRO: I wonder whether you think we'll start to see accountability for some of the enablers who allowed this to happen. Just today, the New York attorney general's office announced that it's investigating the Weinstein Company. Do you think we're going to see the circle of accountability expand?

BELLONI: I think the nature of the reporting on this subject is going to expand, which I hope will lead to more accountability. You're already starting to see people ask questions of, OK, well, what did the Weinstein Company know? And what did Bob Weinstein know? And what about these actresses? They all had agents, right? Did those agents know? And what about the studios that dealt with the Weinstein Company? What did they know? So I think that is the next level of this story. And it's only beginning. And there's going to be a lot of questions asked of people that have been around this for a long time and why they didn't say anything.

SHAPIRO: At the same time that there is this backward-looking question of accountability and justice, there's also a forward-looking question of how the culture of Hollywood needs to change. What do you think needs to happen?

BELLONI: I think there is a ingrained culture of accepted abuse in Hollywood, the pay-your-dues culture where people come to this industry from all over the world and they want to make it big. And they accept a level of abuse. And that, in my opinion, has been the cover for a lot of this sexual abuse. So in my opinion, ending the culture of abuse in general in Hollywood or at least taking steps to putting real consequences for people who are abusive will ultimately lead to an environment where this kind of sexual abuse is less tolerated and is shut down on the first instance of people knowing about it.

SHAPIRO: In The New York Times Quentin Tarantino, the Hollywood director, said he regretted not speaking up earlier about the abuses that he suspected or knew were happening committed by Harvey Weinstein. And he told The New York Times what was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness. Do you think that's true, or is it wishful thinking?

BELLONI: I think it is true to a certain extent. I talk to people around town a lot, and people are shocked and embarrassed. And they want to do something about it, men and women. And I don't know if it is going to eliminate this issue. I think it's a deeply ingrained issue of misogyny and sexism. But I do think there is a renewed focus on how to eradicate this kind of behavior. And people are - in my opinion are not going to tolerate it anymore.

SHAPIRO: Matthew Belloni is editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter. Thanks for joining us today.

BELLONI: No problem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.