It’s Wednesday, and if you’re sick of reading stories about sexual harassers, just imagine how sick people are of being sexually harassed.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re telling Brett Ratner tales, counting on Thor: Ragnarok to hammer the box office, and giving the last laugh to Rose Marie.
Another day, another Hollywood power player (or two) accused of sexual misconduct. Today it’s Ratner, whom six women have shared disturbing stories about with the Los Angeles Times’s Amy Kaufman and Daniel Miller. “He strong-armed me in a real way. He physically forced himself on me,” actress Natasha Henstridge told the newspaper, of an encounter she had with the director-producer at a party in the early 1990s. “At some point, I gave in and he did his thing.” Olivia Munn said that when she went to deliver a meal to Ratner in his trailer on the set of his 2004 film After the Sunset, the filmmaker masturbated in front of her. Munn later told an attorney about the incident, but was advised not to pursue a case against a powerful director. “That did leave an impact on me,” Munn told the Times. “How broken do women have to be before people listen?” As V.F.’s Yohana Desta points out, Munn included this anecdote in her 2010 book of essays, Suck It, Wonder Woman!, though she excluded Ratner’s name. In 2011, Ratner said that the story was about him before claiming that he and Munn used to date: “I banged her a few times . . . but I forgot her,” he said. Days later, Ratner admitted to Howard Stern that he had lied about dating Munn.
Ratner’s attorney, Marty Singer, “categorically” disputed the women’s accounts in the L.A. Times. A spokesman for Warner Bros., where Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment has a $450 million film co-financing pact and rents office space, has said, “We are aware of the allegations in the L.A. Times and are reviewing the situation.” RatPac has financed several Warner Bros. releases, including three of this year’s biggest hits for the studio, Wonder Woman, It, and Dunkirk. Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot backed out of a plan to present Ratner with an award at a Jewish National Fund dinner over the weekend. She was replaced by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who shared a story that reveals something of the complexity of Ratner’s reputation in Hollywood, simultaneously as a rude playboy and as a generous benefactor. Ratner met Jenkins when the two were working in music videos, and he later financed her thesis film and provided support in her career. “He’s a big character, he’s a big personality” Jenkins said. “He wants that for everybody else, too.”
With more and more women speaking up about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood, the unspoken hope is that the industry will no longer be “the way it used to be”—that is, a place run by powerful men who thought nothing of taking advantage of the women they worked with, and expected them to stay quiet. A vivid example of that possibly bygone culture appears in today’s Hollywood Reporter, where Anna Graham Hunter writes about her experience as a 17-year-old production assistant intern on the set of 1985’s TV movie Death of a Salesman, starring Dustin Hoffman. “Dustin’s a lech,” Hunter wrote in a letter at the time. “I’m completely disillusioned. After Tootsie, I thought I wanted to marry him.” Hoffman responded to the piece with a statement that said, in part, “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation.”
Here’s your daily reminder that regardless of how much progress the entertainment industry has made, more is still needed: a new study finds that out of 234 series in the 2016-2017 TV season, two-thirds had not a single black writer—and in total, black writers accounted for only 4.8 percent of staff TV writers. The Emmys might be a more diverse affair than the Oscars, and it’s true that on-screen diversity in television has made great strides—but the reality behind the camera continues to be less inspiring. Black writers, the study found, tend to be clustered within shows helmed by black show-runners—who account for only 5.1 percent of the total. No Hulu series had a black writer on staff, while almost every series on AMC, Showtime, TBS, CBS, and CW had no more than one black writer on staff. Even diversity initiatives, the study found, come with their own flaw: often, the writers who take those slots are not fully integrated into the writers’ circle. In other words, let’s not pat ourselves on the back just yet, TV land. There’s a long way left to go.
Long before Beyoncé, Rihanna, Madonna, or Cher, there was Rose Marie, best known for playing brassy comedy writer Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 60s. What even classic comedy fans might not know, though, is that Rose Marie is much more than a sitcom star: the actress has been working in the industry for more than 90 years, since she was a 3-year-old performer billed as Baby Rose Marie. V.F. contributor Patrick Monahan goes to the source for a Cliff Notes version of Rose Marie’s unbelievable Hollywood life, which has been filled with scandal (her father worked for Al Capone!) and triumph (Rose Marie once told off a male harasser in front of an entire film crew). Oh, and she used to tour the country on a bus driven by George Clooney—until, she tells Monahan, “we got rich enough to go by plane.”
Ragnarok is upon us. Deadline is reporting that the upcoming Thor film, directed by the always delightful Taika Waititi, is poised to blow past the $400 million mark at the global box office this weekend, thanks to its early release in 36 markets last weekend. The Marvel movie is now set to open in the U.S./Canada, China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Mexico, major markets that will push it to victory. That figure, as Deadline notes, is even more astonishing considering the very first Thor movie, released in 2011, capped its lifetime worldwide haul at $449 million. Though this new groundswell is likely due to Marvel’s blockbuster domination, it’s also partly due to the film’s rave reviews. Waititi has injected the franchise with his trademark oddball humor, encouraging the cast to improvise and constantly find the funny in every scene. “I wanted to do something different, and Marvel agreed . . . then we hired this maniac,” Hemsworth joked at a screening of the film at the Whitby Hotel. “We reinvented the world.” The masses thank you, Marvel.