Who’s up for a show focusing on the damage that sexual harassment and worse has done to the … harassers? Tina Brown divulged that plans are afoot for a series about the redemption of people like Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Mario Batali, and others after having been drummed out of high-paying entertainment gigs by the #MeToo movement. Leading the conversation would be former CBS and PBS host Charlie Rose, at least according to Brown and Page Six:
Disgraced CBS anchor Charlie Rose is being slated to star in a show where he’ll interview other high-profile men who have also been toppled by #MeToo scandals.
The move was revealed by editor, writer and women’s advocate Tina Brown, who confirmed to Page Six that she was recently approached to produce a #MeToo atonement series starring Rose, who would interview others embroiled in sexual harassment scandals. …
Brown explained to the group that she was having none of it, and remarked, “These guys are already planning their comebacks!” The talk was moderated by WNYC’s Mary Harris at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.
Come on … that can’t be on the level. It has only been six months or so since #MeToo rocked the entertainment (and political) industries. Awards shows stumbled over themselves to project a no-tolerance message in its wake. What producer in his (or her?) right mind would put money behind such a project?
Er .. Brown can’t remember now:
At the starry Time 100 Gala that night, Brown confirmed to us that she was approached about the Rose confessional show, clarifying she was asked to produce it, rather than co-host. She said of who’s behind the series, “I can’t remember.”
That seems less like a memory lacuna and more like protecting the not-so-innocent. The idea of a redemptive return by Rose & Co isn’t new, though. It’s been percolating in think pieces for last few weeks, including in a New York Times profile of disgraced celebrity chef Batali. He got dumped by ABC and other platforms after allegations of groping and predatory behavior emerged in December, but he’s been sketching out paths for a redemptive comeback, perhaps using charitable work as a springboard:
Mr. Batali, who has never been known for his patience, is asking that question — actively exploring when or whether he should begin his. Friends and associates say he is floating ideas, pondering timelines and examining whether there is a way for him to step back into his career, at least in some fashion. …
Mr. Batali is examining what he has called his blind spots and considering how life might look when he is not, as he told one person he consulted over the winter, “the lead singer.” He told a colleague that he is simply trying to learn to be the wallpaper in the room and not the room itself.
Nonetheless, Mr. Batali has sketched several scenarios that put him in the driver’s seat but cede some control, people he has spoken with recently say. One is creating a new company led by a powerful woman chief executive. In early February, he broached the idea with Federica Marchionni, the former president of Dolce & Gabbana, who was briefly the chief executive of Lands’ End.
This month, he is traveling to Rwanda and Greece to work with refugees as a private citizen. He is thinking about creating a program in which chefs can join him a few times a year to help displaced Rwandans as they return to their country.
There have been enough rumblings about “redemption” that it has already begun to spark an anti-redemption pushback. Erin Keane lashed out at the concept of redemption as a Euro- and male-centric conceit and wondered why Americans seem to love it:
The truth is America can’t resist a second act; our national myths are founded on them. A fervent belief in personal reinvention for men (of mostly European heritage) runs through the country’s creation. And so it’s no wonder that after several months of what was described as a “reckoning” — the falls from grace of many powerful men accused of sexual harassment and abuse, sparked by the New York Times and New Yorker Pulitzer Prize-winning exposés of Harvey Weinstein’s long trail of rape and abuse allegations and fueled by the rallying cry of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement — which is by no means over yet, we’re simultaneously waiting for the curtain to rise on the next part of the story.
Whiling away the days in shamed exile? Boring. A redemption arc — now there’s a story.
The possibilities are so intriguing that similar comeback narratives have been floated recently about Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Mario Batali and Matt Lauer, all wondering if — but mostly about when and how — the fallen heroes will stage their triumphant second acts.
And this was before Tina Brown floated out the new concept for a Charlie Rose show. Lest anyone think disgust over the suggestion that it’s time for a comeback is limited to the Left, Becket Adams also castigated those whose concern focuses on the certified villains of #MeToo:
It was just five months ago five women came forward to allege C.K. masturbated in front of them. The comedian has copped to the claims. It has also been only four months since four women first alleged they were harassed and groped by Batali. He says he doesn’t remember the incidents, but has apologized for them nonetheless.
Yet, here we are talking about their big comebacks.
I wrote earlier this month, “Five is the magic number if you’re a credibly accused sexual predator. You have to wait roughly five months before efforts are made to resurrect your public image.”
This was supposed to be a bitter joke, not a recommendation.
As a Christian, I believe in the possibility of personal redemption. I even believe that acts of charity can facilitate it, as long as the point of those acts is the charity itself, and not ways in which one can exploit it to make themselves look better. (See Matthew 23:5-7 for more on that.) Redemption, however, doesn’t require restoration of celebrity and authority. It’s personal, not professional. We can certainly hope that abusers and harassers find redemption and learn to behave with respect to everyone around them, but that doesn’t mean they’re owed a return to the limelight. The impulse to look for that return is strange indeed, perhaps stranger and certainly more inexplicable than the desire of the transgressor to win attention back.
Frankly, restoration holds more interest for me when it focuses on the victims. How about casting women like Rose McGowan and Mira Sorvino in legitimate dramatic work rather than reality shows and interviews? Let’s see the return of women (and men) who got chased out of the business after promising starts by predatory behavior. The abusers have already taken up too much of our attention.