Given that the most impactful Hollywood story of 2017 was the revelation of industry-wide sexual harassment and the takedown of dozens of high-profile perpetrators across entertainment and media, I thought it only fitting to devote our final print edition of the year to this chilling topic, as a follow-up to the issue we published two months ago.
The reason I put New York Times investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey on the cover should be self-evident. Their explosive Oct. 5 exposé on Harvey Weinstein’s four decades of sexual assault served as ground zero for a cascade of stories that followed from various news organizations, including Variety, about the sexual misconduct of other powerful figures, such as Roy Price, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner and many, many more. As we point out, more than 100 perpetrators have been identified in just eight weeks.
In fact, as I was finishing this letter, three more prominent individuals were fired: celebrity chef and “The Chew” co-host Mario Batali, veteran “Good Day L.A.” anchor Steve Edwards and The New Yorker political columnist Ryan Lizza. The list appears to be endless.
Last month, Variety’s intrepid reporters Ramin Setoodeh and Elizabeth Wagmeister broke a huge story detailing vivid sexual harassment allegations against Lauer moments after the popular “Today” show host was summarily fired by NBC.
In her acceptance speech at the recent L.A. Press Club awards dinner, Kantor paid tribute to our Lauer story as well as revelatory pieces by other news organizations. “I don’t know if there’s a more satisfying feeling, as a journalist, than to watch these stories talking to each other and to watch the common themes develop again and again and again.”
Kantor is so right. There is something rewarding about us journalists collectively working to expose massive wrongdoings in an industry that has a shameless history of this kind of abhorrent behavior that has lived in the shadows for so long. Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to shine light on these horrible injustices if not for the courageous women and men who have come forward to tell their stories to us, no matter the publication. In our sexual harassment package, we acknowledge the victims of sexual harassment and abuse with a group photo and accounts of their individual stories as told to our Debra Birnbaum.
Writer Andrea King came up with the brilliant idea of giving voice to 20 women who finally get to tell their horror stories without having to name names.
Like I’ve said many, many times as we continue to cover this scandal, hopefully all of this great journalism will lead to a major shift in the culture of Hollywood and beyond.