Gloria Steinem Biopic Caught in Crosshairs of Timothy Hutton Rape Accusation03/04/2020
A harrowing accusation of rape against actor Timothy Hutton, surfaced in a BuzzFeed story on Monday, raises questions about a new film in which he co-stars about the life of activist icon Gloria Steinem.
In an in-depth BuzzFeed report by Kate Aurthur and Adam B. Vary (both have since joined the staff of Variety), the Oscar-winning actor is accused of raping former model Sera Johnson in 1983, when she was 14 years old. Hutton “completely and unequivocally” denied the accusations in the article, saying the account was “patently false and designed only to extort money from him.”
Hutton could become one of the numerous actors whose unreleased projects have been tainted by alleged sexual misconduct, including: Kevin Spacey, who was replaced in Ridley Scott’s finished film “All The Money In The World” by Christopher Plummer; Jeffrey Tambor, who was killed off of Amazon’s popular series “Transparent” following two accusations of misconduct on set; and Louis C.K., who paid $5 million to re-acquire rights to his indie film “I Love You, Daddy” amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from female comedians.
Other men implicated in the #MeToo movement have remained in their screen roles. This includes James Franco, who kept his supporting part in the HBO series “The Deuce” following accusations of misconduct from former acting students (Franco, coincidentally on Monday, asked a judge to toss a class-action suit from former students, saying the group jumped on the #MeToo “bandwagon”). Johnny Depp, who was accused of physical and emotional abuse by ex-wife Amber Heard, rigorously denied the accusations and actively participated in promotion of the 2018 Warner Bros. release “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”
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In “The Glorias,” Hutton has a supporting but highly visible role as Steinem’s father. The film, a roving look at Steinem’s life from childhood to present day, stars Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander as incarnations of the woman who played a critical role in the feminist movement of the 1960s. Directed by Julie Taymor, the movie was screened in the official selection at January’s Sundance film festival. It was acquired a month later by indie distributor Roadside Attractions (“Judy”), which is set to release the picture with LD Entertainment this fall.
Roadside, which is partly owned by Lionsgate, is set to begin rolling out “The Glorias” as early as September, insiders familiar with their timing told Variety. A pivotal condition of the film’s sale was a theatrical release prior to November’s presidential election, backed by national speaking engagements with Steinem and the cast. The film depicts Steinem’s personal struggles with sexual harassment in the workplace, and widespread misogyny in her battle to promote feminism. The accusations against Hutton fly in the face of what Steinem has come to symbolize in American culture, and could potentially derail the film’s promotional plans.
A Roadside Attractions official had no immediate comment on the matter, nor did spokespeople for Steinem, Taymor and the filmmakers.
Steinem sat in on the earliest meetings with the architects of the women’s advocacy organization Time’s Up, which raised a multi-million dollar legal defense fund that was born in response to the #MeToo movement. Following Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction last week in a New York City court, Steinem exclusively told Variety, “We’ve come a long way in a lifetime. This court victory is due to the courage of brave and diverse girls and women who have dared to tell the truth. I thank each and every one of them!”
In “The Glorias,” Hutton shares scenes with three actors portraying Steinem at different ages: nine-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong, 14-year-old Lulu Wilson and Vikander. Hutton’s Leo Steinem is portrayed as a wandering antiques dealer with aspirations to produce and mount live entertainment. He is prominently featured in the film’s first act, and in later scenes with Vikander.
The only other unreleased project Hutton has in the works is the dystopian drama, “Y: The Last Man.” The series is set up at FX, and recently saw the departure of lead actor Barry Keoghan, who was replaced with Ben Schnetzer. FX ordered a second pilot shoot under director Melina Matsoukas. FX had no immediate comment.
Hours after the BuzzFeed report on Hutton, Fox announced it would not renew the actor’s series “Almost Family,” which suffered in the ratings and had been shuffled on the network’s schedule from Wednesday to Saturday. The fallout from sexual misconduct accusations can directly impact production, sometimes resulting in additional costs and negative press.
In the wake of numerous accusations against Spacey, including two accounts of inappropriate advances and sexual relationships with minors, he was dropped from Scott’s “All the Money,” in a frantic last-minute shoot that cost a reported $10 million. He was also written out of the final season of Netflix’s flagship drama series “House of Cards.”
Tambor, the Emmy-winning star of Amazon’s groundbreaking “Transparent,” was similarly written out of the Jill Soloway series following sexual harassment accusations from both a cast and crew member on the set. Tambor, who expressed regrets over his general workplace temperament but denied predatory behavior, was also erased from marketing images for his movie “The Death of Stalin,” released shortly after he was accused.
Comic Louis C.K. bought back the rights to his Toronto film festival title “I Love You, Daddy” from distributor The Orchard in 2017, and repaid the company a reported $100,000 in marketing costs that had been spent on an early awards campaign. C.K. took back the film after he was accused of misconduct and improper advances by five women. He admitted to masturbating in front of female comics, and said the act was using his celebrity and power “irresponsibly.”
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