From James Rosen to James Franco, Gene Simmons to Russel Simmons, and from Kirk Douglas to Michael Douglas, men are scared.
As powerful men, particularly in media and entertainment, continue to face accusations about sexual misconduct, it has become clear that the climate surrounding sexual charges is changing. Nothing signifies this change more profoundly than storied actor and Hollywood royalty Michael Douglas coming forth to deny sexual misconduct accusations that, as far as anyone in the public knows, don’t actually exist.
Douglas, son of actor Kirk Douglas and spouse of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, spoke out on Tuesday about accusations against him that had not yet been broken by any news publication. The actor told Deadline that he “felt the need to get ahead” of an allegedly 32-year-old story about him that publications including The Hollywood Reporter have approached him about but not yet brought to press. Douglas told Deadline this about the still-murky accusation, which he said he sees as “a cautionary tale”:
She claims that, One, I used colorful language in front of her, not at her, but that I used colorful language. Two, she claims that in conversations I had in front of her, on the phone, that I spoke raunchily, or dirtily with friends of mine, in private conversations. I fired her eventually, for the work she was doing, but Three, she claims that I blackballed her from the industry and stopped her form getting another job. And then, Four, she claims that I masturbated in front of her.
Douglas said that after hearing the accusation from his lawyer, “My head was reeling. I just couldn’t put this together.” Douglas asked to speak to the reporter who brought the accusation to his lawyer, and says that he told him that he hasn’t had contact with the woman in 30 years, that he apologizes if he used “colorful language,” that accusations that he “blackballed” her are “completely untrue.”
“Finally, masturbating in front of her? I don’t know where to begin,” Douglas concluded. “This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever,” he says. Douglas told Deadline that the reporter said, “She did say that you never harassed her, never touched her.” Douglas said that the reporter in question planned to think more about the story, but then got back in touch with the actor after the holidays and told him The Hollywood Reporter would likely run the story soon because of fear of being “scooped” by another publication, possibly Variety.
“I pride myself of being so supportive of the women’s movement,” Douglas told Deadline, before reeling off statistics about his work with powerful women in the industry. “My mother was an actress, and I myself married to an actress and have been supportive of this movement wholeheartedly, through all my years,” he added. “And a legitimate trade publication is going to try and print this story? There is no corroboration, just that they found out somebody else might run the story,” he said.
“It’s extremely painful,” he told the interviewer at Deadline. “I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else. I don’t have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who’s coming out or saying this.” But in fact, Douglas’ father has been the target of long-broiling criticism of his treatment of women and rumors of rape.
“Look, I support the #metoo movement with all my heart,” said Douglas. “I have always supported women, along the way. This is the kind of step that can set that movement back.”
He called his circumstances, “a complete nightmare.”
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny