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What do the Harvey Weinstein allegations reveal about power and gender in Hollywood? When Tom Hanks recently sat down with Jeffrey Brown for a conversation about his first collection of short stories, the legendary actor also discussed whether Weinstein's behavior was an open secret in Hollywood.
Since the Harvey Weinstein story broke, there's been a new focus on sexual harassment in the workplace.
This weekend, we learned FOX News reportedly re-signed its then-top-rated host, Bill O'Reilly, after he allegedly paid $32 million to settle harassment allegations.
In finance, several employees were reportedly forced out at Fidelity Investments, the mutual fund giant.
And then two more developments today: The California State Senate announced it is hiring firms to investigate reports of a pervasive culture of harassment there.
And then, back in New York, the state attorney general launched a civil rights probe into The Weinstein Company.
As it happens, this weekend, Jeffrey Brown recorded an interview with actor Tom Hanks about a new project, his first book, a collection of short stories. We're going to be airing that interview in the coming days.
But in the course of that conversation, they talked about the fallout from the Weinstein scandal. And Jeff asked whether Weinstein's behavior was an open secret in Hollywood.
I think there was knowledge amongst a certain group of people, mostly who did business with Harvey Weinstein.
There are countless women who understood that that is what happened. And there were many people who said, well, that's just Harvey being Harvey.
How serious is it? Is it about one person, one man, or is it a culture?
You and I and even the likes of the people on the Turner Classic Movies understand that the idea of the casting couch that existed in Hollywood is the part of both myth and concrete reality.
Any place there is a boss with underlings in any corporation or any industry, you have a type of sexual politics that goes on that can slide in between appropriate ethics and decorum to, let's see, inappropriate behavior, to the point of harassment and sexual predatory behavior.
Well, I mean, I think people understand that. But the larger question, is there a culture of complicity in Hollywood, where women are afraid to speak up because they will blacklisted, men are afraid to speak up out of the same fear, or they just think, well, this is the way the system works?
I think there are people that said, well, hey, this is how it works, pure and simple, this is why I got into,it, and this is why I have power, this is how it works, and you have to understand that.
That doesn't carry the day.
Complicity, people who know, well, look, this is how we do business, and that's what has got to be done, I'm sorry it is like that, so, beware, that is also present, without a doubt.
But it doesn't carry the day. There's also people that were afraid to speak out who were victims that did not go forward, that signed, negotiated settlement deals of which a nondisclosure agreement was part and parcel to it. That also doesn't carry the day.
So, the dam has burst here in a big way. And it is not just the halls of places like Harvey Weinstein's office where this was standard operating procedure. And it is criminal, and it is — it is — it is cause for termination.
It is also happening in every other corner of not just my industry, but yours and throughout all of America today.
You think this is a kind of tipping point.
Well, I think it absolutely is, in which everybody is asking, women, what do I put up with and when do I talk about it, and men saying, I think we have to live by a code of ethics that we need to think and put down on paper.
Don't be surprised if there is going to be a sign in front of every one of the studio gates that will say, all people entering this studio will obey this code of ethics, or they will be escorted from the premises.
And that will all be about sexual harassment and sexual predatory behavior.
And we will have the rest of Jeff's conversation with Tom Hanks about his new book and his work in the coming days.
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