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Movie producer Judd Apatow said Hollywood has created “a culture of paying off people,” making it difficult for victims of sexual assault to speak up, particularly when they fear putting their careers on the line.
During a roundtable discussion about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Apatow compared the movie mogul's fall to another disgraced entertainment icon, Bill Cosby, who allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of women and reached a financial settlement with at least one.
“They set up a power dynamic that is very difficult for people to figure out what to do about, and that’s why it lasts for decades because it’s like a perfect system. And then on the side, you give money to charity,” Apatow said while talking with other movie producers in a discussion set up by "The Hollywood Reporter." “It’s like a priest who seems like a great part of the community, so nobody doubts him.”
Apatow admitted he had heard rumors about the movie mogul’s behavior toward women but never witnessed it personally.
“So it’s hard to say, 'let’s go get him,' because we’re not a part of it. Unfortunately, it’s up to the people that are truly aware of it,” he said.
“Bill Cosby had a lot of agents. He had a lot of people that were writing checks to women. I think the same is probably true of Harvey," Apatow added. "Somebody was writing those checks — somebody knew, and those people on the inside, when they’re quiet also, it goes on for decades and decades.”
Actor and producer Seth Rogen recalled a negative experience working with Weinstein 10 years ago that left a lasting impact.
"I was like, 'This is a bad dude and I’m never going to work with him again.’ And everyone is like, yeah — but they still do,” Rogen said.
He noted that “everyone knows” about Weinstein’s reputation with women but many people attributed that behavior as part of an “old school" mentality.
“There is kind of like a wink and acceptance of that type behavior. A lot of Hollywood people like the fact we work in a business that doesn’t have the same rules as other businesses,” Rogen said. “They’re free to have varying personalities and stuff like that. That ultimately also allows people to excuse a lot of horribly inappropriate behavior that shouldn’t be acceptable.”
Producer and former Sony chief Amy Pascal said she doesn’t believe Weinstein is an outlier in the industry, which is why few people have spoken up until last week, when The New York Times published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct that spanned over a period of nearly three decades.
“People really believed they would get hurt. I think it’s a tragic situation for our business,” she said. “I think the women who stood up have to be applauded because that is really, really hard to do when nobody wants to stand up, and the silence is deafening. And that’s the part that we're responsible for.”
"The Hollywood Reporter" roundtable took place last weekend, before Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Co. and just before days before The New Yorker published its own investigative report.
Apatow said there’s no excuse for anyone in Hollywood to treat people inappropriately.
“It’s not hard to not be a creep. We all work in this business. It’s very easy to not act like that,” he said. “You can respect people, you can respect women, and it's easy. It's demented not to. And hopefully, the industry as a whole is getting fed up.”