The Hollywood sexual assault scandal has most A-listers either running for cover or covering themselves with expressions of ambiguous denunciations of Harvey Weinstein. Oliver Stone, on the other hand, inexplicably appeared to defend his fellow film mogul and “rival,” telling reporters that he wants to wait for a trial to conclude anything about Weinstein. Stone argued that Weinstein had it rough at the moment, the Hollywood Reporter’s Patrick Brzeski notes:
Stone addressed the international media Friday morning at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, where he is serving as chair of the event’s competition jury. It wasn’t long before he was asked for his reaction to the Weinstein allegations, along with whether he was aware of the many rumors about Weinstein’s behavior over the years.
“I’m a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial,” Stone said. “I believe a man shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system. It’s not easy what he’s going through, either. During that period he was a rival. I never did business with him and didn’t really know him. I’ve heard horror stories on everyone in the business, so I’m not going to comment on gossip. I’ll wait and see, which is the right thing to do.”
A few hours later, Brzeski reports, Stone apparently thought better of his initial reaction. He issued another variant of the ambiguous-denunciation statement:
Later in the day, Stone walked back his remarks, posting a message on Facebook saying he had been unaware of the extent of the allegations against Weinstein because of his travel schedule.
“After looking at what has been reported in many publications over the last couple of days, I’m appalled and commend the courage of the women who’ve stepped forward to report sexual abuse or rape,” Stone wrote.
Needless to say, Stone’s original response seemed verrrry curious, especially coming a week after the initial New York Times report on Weinstein and days after the more detailed and more disgusting revelations from Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. How does someone so tied to media and popular culture misread a moment like that? According to former Playboy model Carrie Stevens and the New York Daily News, it might be because Stone lives in a glass house when it comes to sexual harassment and intimidation. Stevens accuses Stone of grabbing her breast at a party in the 1990s as though he were a schoolboy snapping her bra strap:
The 48-year-old model told the Daily News that she was at a party at producer Ted Field’s home in honor of Stone more than 20 years ago when Stone walked up to her standing by the front door.
“He was really cocky, had this big grin on his face like he was going to get away with something,” Stevens, who was 22 at the time, told The News.
At that point, Stone “reached out and…honked it like a horn,” she said, describing him as “an immature guy in elementary school who snaps your bra.”
No one intervened or admonished Stone, Stevens told the NYDN. Nor did Stone expect them to do so:
“He walked up like he was entitled to grab anything he wanted. He did it because he wanted to.”
Stevens claims that the Hollywood system is set up to protect people like Stone. Earlier in the week, producer Judd Apatow and producer-actor Seth Rogen agreed, calling it a “perfect system” of payoffs to protect the powerful:
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.” …
“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.”
In the same roundtable, former Sony exec Amy Pascal said that the entire industry has to start taking responsibility for cleaning their own houses. She also declared that there are more Weinsteins to find:
Former Sony chief and producer Pascal echoed 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.”
Stone might well be one of those Weinsteins, assuming Stevens’ allegations are true. If they are, Stone had better prepare himself for others coming forward, especially since his power in Hollywood has waned considerably anyway. But will that prompt Hollywood to dig deeper and find those Weinsteins whose victims still fear retaliation too much to come forward on their own? Stone’s almost assuredly not the only figure living in glass houses these days.