Hollywood is finally coming to terms with abusive bosses, and Scott Rudin has become the well-deserved poster child for the movement in the way Harvey Weinstein became poster child for the #MeToo movement.
Even as others have been canceled or have dialed back their aggression, Rudin’s behavior has continued unabated, leaving a trail of splintered objects and traumatized employees in his path.
For some four decades, Rudin’s abusive behavior has been chronicled — even celebrated — by the press. In a 2010 profile, this publication dubbed him “The Most Feared Man in Town” and called him “dazzlingly charming” one paragraph after describing acts of cruelty and intimidation. In a 2005 Wall Street Journal profile with the headline “Boss-zilla!,” Rudin himself pegged the number of assistants he burned through in the previous five years at 119.
That’s right, on average the guy was firing an assistant every other week for five years.
Vulture spoke to many of the scores of abused employees, and it is shocking to read. Here are just the first five office rules assistants listed:
- “The first thing you’re told when you walk in the door: ‘Don’t look him in the eye.’ Because if he’s in a bad mood and he’s looking for somebody to yell at, he might pick you.”
- “Never talk to Scott.”
- “If you were in the kitchen/storage-space area, whether you were photocopying a script, washing the dishes, or restocking the fridge — if Scott came in, you were to try to exit immediately.”
- “Don’t go into the storage closet if he’s in the office, because if he sees inside the closet, it could be dangerous for you. You have to make sure the door’s always closed when you’re in it. It was disorganized, and the thinking was he would be so upset by the disorganization something bad would happen. What would that be? I don’t know.”
- “His phone cord is nine feet long. If you’re in his office, make sure you’re ten feet away, because then the phone won’t hit you when he throws it at you.”
The New York Times has weighed in, too:
He has a reputation for being vengeful: After a dispute with an agent over airfare, he allegedly pressured some of the agent’s clients to leave him. He is litigious: He sued an insurance company seeking an enormous payout after he blamed the closing of a musical on the pregnancy of a star, Audra McDonald. And he can be callous: When Rita Wilson, who was starring in one of his plays, told him that she had breast cancer, she said, he lamented that she would need to take time off during Tony voting season.
The Producers Guild of America has announced they will be implementing anti-bullying training because of Rudin:
We are deeply disturbed and disheartened by the continuing allegations of workplace harassment and abuse in our industry, and stand with those who speak out against such violence and intimidation in all forms. We must work together to make our industry a more equitable and safe place for everyone involved, no matter what their level or role.
Setting off an entire workplace reform movement based on your behavior is impressive. This has been in the making for a while, with former top producers for Ellen Degeneres also getting comeuppance for creating toxic work environments. It’s good to know that being an EGOT producer is no longer an excuse!
UPDATE: As the fallout continues, Salon has a roundup of projects and organizations affected:
He also said that he would be “stepping back” from several highly anticipated projects, including a revival of “The Music Man,” which is set to star Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster and begin previews in December.
Rudin also had several other projects in the works, including Broadway revivals of “Our Town” starring Dustin Hoffman, “The Piano Lesson” starring Samuel L. Jackson, and “Death of a Salesman” starring Nathan Lane. The fate of those projects is unclear, as well.
TMZ reports a planned Dionne Warwick biopic is now in limbo because Rudin was involved:
Sources familiar with the project tell TMZ … Rudin reached out to Dionne’s team earlier this year after the singer playfully tweeted a pitch for a Netflix series about her life and career, but the Hollywood honcho had a movie in mind instead. In light of that news … we’re told Dionne and her team have backed away from the deal with Rudin for now, and are waiting to see how things pan out. We’ve reached out to Scott’s team too … so far, no word back.