Here Are All The Famous Men Who Have Tried To Come Back From #MeToo
On October 5, the New York Times published an investigative story about allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by media mogul Harvey Weinstein, dating back over two decades. Since that day, over 250 powerful people, from celebrities to CEOs to senators, have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct.
The #MeToo movement, originally launched in 2006 by Tarana Burke, shared its name and ethos with this cavalcade of accusations, and the resulting firings, resignations, corporate and police investigations, lawsuits, and an immeasurable cultural reckoning.
On the same day as the bombshell times investigation, Harvey Weinstein began to stage his comeback. In a statement to the Times in which he apologized for “pain” he had caused, Weinstein announced that he would be launching a series of new projects: a campaign to take down the NRA, a movie about President Donald Trump, and a foundation to give film making scholarships to women.
In the span of time since the #MeToo movement gained force (under two years,) many accused men (and one woman) have staged or attempted to stage comebacks, though few as brusquely as Weinstein.
This is an ongoing, non-exhaustive list of the way these “#MeToo Men” have attempted — and in many cases succeeded — in returning to prominent positions. The list is presented alphabetically and includes both Jewish and non-Jewish figures.
Accusations against Allen date back long before #MeToo, but the movement has brought controversy around the famed creator back to the public eye. Allen was accused of sexual abuse by his daughter Dylan Farrow in 1992. Allen denied the allegation than and now; Farrow stands by it.
Now Allen is suing Amazon studios for $68 million breach of contract, claiming that the studio has abandoned its deal to make and distribute the filmmaker’s movies. Allen points out that Farrow’s accusations were well known before Allen’s August 2017 contract was signed.
The comedian became perhaps the most polarizing character in the #MeToo saga — critics are split on whether the accusations against him made by a sexual partner in January 2018 are credible, and whether they even constitute accusations of misconduct. Ansari apologized for the offense but called the encounter “consensual.” But in part because Ansari’s public persona is that of a woke, kindly truth-teller, specifically in the area of dating, he has been under major scrutiny.
After a pause from performing, he launched a comeback tour in Spring 2018, which the New Yorker dubbed, “A Cry Against Extreme Wokeness.” In it, Ansari criticizes progressives, appears to sympathize with Trump voters, and tells a story about upset around swastikas to exemplify over sensitivity. Ansari’s “Road To Nowhere” tour has gone well, with sold out houses in New York City. No date has been set for the third season of Ansari’s hit show “Master of None,” but Netflix executives have stated that they will move forward with the show “Whenever Aziz is ready.”
Stephen Bittel resigned as head of Florida’s Democratic Party in November after being accused of “inappropriate behavior” by six women.
Two months later, he still sits on the DNC’s rules committee.— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) January 18, 2018
Stephen Bittel is the chairman and founder of Terranova real estate, a corporation which claims to have a portfolio of $1 billion in holdings. In 2016, Bittel became chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. In 2017, Bittel apologized and resigned under pressure after six women Florida Democrat staffers told Politico that Bittel made sexually inappropriate comments at work, and that it was an unspoken policy that no woman should ever be left alone with him. Bittel is now being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee at Terranova.
Bittel’s corporation continues to expand — this month, he was quoted in Forbes, describing the new food hall opened in Miami this month by Terranova.
Louis CK was possibly the most venerated living comedian until five women accused him of sexual misconduct in an investigation published in the New York Times in November 2017. “These stories are true,” CK wrote in a statement to the paper, promising to “now step back and take a long time to listen.”
Fewer than nine months later, CK returned to the stage at the Comedy Cellar in New York’s Greenwich Village, an event that prompted controversy and commentary in the comedy world and beyond. Following a few more performances, CK made major headlines once again in January 2019, when a set leaked in which he referenced the sexual misconduct incident unapologetically, then joked about the mass slaughter of teens in Parkland, Florida, and mocked Asian men and transgender people. He continues to perform.
A-list actor James Franco had been dogged by talk of sexual impropriety for years, but after he publicly declared allegiance for the Time’s Up movement (the Hollywood offshoot of #MeToo,) five women came forward in January 2018 to accuse Franco of behaving with sexually inappropriate behavior towards them, on and off film sets. Franco publicly denied the allegations, but said, “If there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. So if I’ve done something wrong I will fix it, I, I have to.” He pledged to “listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off.”
Franco returned to filming the HBO show “The Deuce” (producer and star Maggie Gyllenhaal said “We took the allegations really seriously — learned everything we could about them”) and went on to act in a slate of projects including the Oscar-nominated Coen Brothers’ movie “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” His directing project “Zeroville” is in post production — it stars 19-year-old actress Joey King, who has spoken extensively about her “friendship” with Franco.
Many consider Franken to be a casualty of the #MeToo movement — the popular Minnesota senator and Saturday Night Live alum was a force within the Democratic party until eight women accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct. Franken denied the accusations and resigned from his position under pressure, saying that he is a “champion of all women.”
In November 2018, Franken released a podcast in which he discussed political issues, seemingly an attempt to take the temperature of a possible return to the public eye. “When I left the Senate I said I was giving up my seat but not my voice,” Franken said on the podcast. “And after the midterm elections I thought I’d start experimenting with ways to make my voice heard.” In July he made his first public appearance since resigning from the Senate, and answered questions about running for office by saying “I haven’t ruled it out and I haven’t ruled it in.”
Celebrated American Ballet Theater principal dancer Marcelo Gomes resigned in December 2017 during an investigation by the company looked into an accusation by a woman concerning sexual misconduct that had allegedly occurred eight years prior. “This is a time of reflection for Marcelo,” a representative for the dancer wrote.
In the summer of 2017, Gomes went on to perform extensively in Russian ballets. In June 2018, the Sarasota Ballet hired Gomes as a guest artist for the year. Iain Webb, the ballet company’s artistic director, said that he and Gomes did not discuss the allegations against him. In the fall of 2018, Gomes joined the Hong Kong Ballet as a guest dancer. He told the South China Morning Post, “I don’t think I’d have gotten these opportunities if I had not gone through a change. When you go through something bad in your life, whatever it is, you learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about people and you have a chance to grow.”
Halperin, a political pundit, was resigned from NBC in 2017 after five women accused him of forcibly touching, kissing, and groping them at work, while more women said that he solicited them for sex in the workplace.
In April 2019, Halperin made his first return to punditry, appearing on Sirius XM to discuss his own behavior and to weigh in on charges against potential 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden. “I wasn’t a perfect person when I made these mistakes, I’m not a perfect person now, I’m happy to be judged by perfect people,” Halperin said. He detailed the charity work he has done since his job loss. The Daily Beast reported that Halperin has recently launched a political blog (“Mark Halperin’s Wide World of News,”) and that top MNSBC pundits Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of “Morning Joe” attempted to launch an online show with Halperin in the Fall, but were impeded by the network. Nevertheless, the duo spent a segment of their popular morning show on replaying Halperin’s Sirius interview, focusing on his apology and insistence that he has now learned about workplace harassment in “hundreds” of conversations with women.
In November 2017, the legendary public radio host Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), which launched an independent investigation into allegations of “inappropriate behavior” by another public radio employee. Though Keillor stated that he was fired over an individual instance in which he touched a woman’s bare back, MPR president Jon McTaggart explained to listeners in 2018 that allegations included, “dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents…over a period of years,” and that copious emails from Keillor to the accuser were presented to the radio station, showing explicit inappropriate sexual communication from the radio star.
Keillor returned to making public performances in late 2018, and reached a deal with MPR to maintain the archives of his show on their site, which had been removed following Keillor’s firing. Keillor was slated to speak at the Burlington Books Festival in October 2018, but was removed from the list of speakers after online backlash. He runs a reoccurring column for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and is currently on tour. In 2019, he says, he encourages people to “lighten up.”
Screenwriter Max Landis (son of famed “Animal House” writer John Landis,) went silent on social media and seemed to disappear after the Daily Beast reported a series of tweets from women in entertainment that accusing Landis of “sexually abusing [sic] women.” Other women wrote that Landis’ alleged pattern of assault was an “open secret.” Other writers and entertainers chimed in, saying that Landis’ alleged crimes had been covered up by his “powerful father.” In an interview in 2013 that has since been removed, the Daily Beast notes that Landis said, “My personality is very flirtatious and coy. There’s a lot of eye contact and touching. Even if you’re not down, I’ll come at you like jack sparrow.”
In late January 2019, the Daily Beast reported the announcement that two new Landis projects are in the works — a thriller anchored by Idris Elba, and a female-empowerment action movie, starring Chloe Grace Moretz.
He was the co-founder of Pixar and the head of Disney animation, but he stepped down in June 2018 (following a six month “sabbatical” form the company) after an investigation by The Hollywood Reporter quoted exposed stories from employees about the executive’s alleged habits of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”
Never you fear — or, alternatively, be afraid — Lasseter found his footing again, hired just months later to head up Skydance Animation. Shortly after, actress Emma Thompson dropped out of a Skydance film, penning an open letter expressing her discomfort concerning Lasseter.
Fans were surprised when smiley, folksy Matt Lauer was exposed in November 2017 as one of the most extreme and explicit forms of workplace sexual harassment of all the men named by reporters and accusers during #MeToo. An investigation by Variety found that more than 10 women, many of whom had complained to the network, said that Lauer had sexually harassed them in the workplace. Famously, Lauer had installed a button under his desk that allowed him to covertly close his office door while seated, enclosing women in his office. “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I hurt, I am truly sorry,” Lauer wrote at the time, adding “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
“Don’t worry,” Lauer told a group of admiring fans in August 2018. “I’ll be back on TV.”
New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza, best known for a bombshell interview with then-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, was fired by the New York Times in December 2017, after the magazine cited “improper sexual conduct.” Lizza said that the company was reacting to a “respectful relationship” he had with a coworker. In response to the decision by the New Yorker, CNN also fired Lizza, later reinstating him, saying, “Based on the information provided and the findings of the investigation, CNN has found no reason to continue to keep Mr. Lizza off the air.”
Lizza was hired in June 2018 by the magazine Esquire. Editor-in-chief Jay Fielden did not refer to Lizza’s firing.
A radio legend in the New York area, Lopate was fired from his post at WNYC in December 2017 after multiple complaints of inappropriate behavior resulted in an investigation by the network. Lopate had previously been given a warning, as well as training to curb harassment.
In July 2018, it was announced that Lopate would be given a new solo radio show on WBAI.
In January 2019, Bloomberg reported that Marciano would stay on as chief creative officer at Guess.
Famed architect Richard Meier was accused by five women of sexual harassment — groping and flashing while they were employees or in work circumstances — in March 2018. Meier took a lengthy leave of absence from his firm, and his firm eventually announced that he would step back from day-to-day activities” in October 2018. “While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior,” Meier said at the time.
A report in Bloomberg in February 2019 found that Meier’s role in his company has stayed consistent; moreover, his firm did not suffer as a result of the accusations.
One of the highest profile names of #MeToo, CBS executive (and green-light behind behemoth shows like “Survivor” and “Big Bang Theory”) Les Moonves resigned from the network in September 2018 after an independent investigation found dozens of accusations against the longtime head credible. Moonves, who first faced accusations by women in a New Yorker expose, reportedly worked to sabotage the CBS investigation, even attempting to pass off his son’s iPad as his own to investigators.
By February 2019, Moonves had quietly opened a new film and TV production company, “Moon Rise Unlimited,” in Hollywood. Due to the terms of his contract with CBS, the network is currently paying for his office space.
Michael Oreskes led the news team at NPR until November 2017, when the Washington Post reported that the journalist had faced sexual harassment allegations from multiple women for years — allegations that were known to NPR management. “My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility,” Oreskes said at the time.
In December 2019, Oreskes was recruited for and joined LaCorte News, a digital media publication that aims to make reporting more fair and serious. “Journalism had taken a credibility hit with Americans,” the site reads, explaining that the addition of journalists like Oreskes will make reporting more “open and honest.”
Amazon Studios head and longtime Amazon power player Roy Price resigned in October 2017, after multiple female employees reported harassment and inappropriate behavior.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, by January 2019 Price had moved to Hong Kong and founded a corporation called “International Art Machine,” which appears to be an art management and consulting group.
New York University Professor Avital Ronell was suspended in August after graduate student Nimrod Reitman reported her for an alleged three years of verbal and physical sexual harassment by Ronell, his advisor. An 11-month Title IX investigation reported in the New York Times sparked a new rivulet of conversation within the general discussion surrounding #MeToo — Ronell is a woman and a lesbian, and has been celebrated as a feminist. Butler later apologized. Major professors including the scholar Judith Butler wrote to the university in defense of Ronell. Reitman, who is gay, claimed that Ronell kissed and touched him without consent, and provided emails in which Ronell described him as “cock-er spaniel” and “my most adored one.” Ronell denied any inappropriate behavior.
Ronell will resume teaching at NYU this fall. Her course is called “Unsettled Scores: Theories of Grievance, Stuckness, and Boundary Troubles.”
An iconic interviewer and beloved presence, Charlie Rose was accused of flagrant and egregious sexual harassment at CBS, which accusers say lasted decades, with complaints well known to the network. In November 2017, eight women told the Washington Post that Rose had harassed and assaulted them. In May 2018 a further investigation by the Washington Post reported accusations by 13 more female CBS employees, as well as 14 other women. Accusers said that Rose routinely exposed himself, groped them, and made inappropriately sexual comments toward them in and out of work.
Rose was fired by both CBS and PBS. Initially, Rose apologized, though he added, “I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.” As the list of women has grown, Rose has claimed that his accusers are “exploiting the #MeToo Movement.”
Rumors of a Rose comeback were some of the first to bubble in the wake of the earliest stirrings of #MeToo. In August 2018, celebrated journalist Tina Brown said that she was approached to produce a TV show in which Rose would accuse other men attempting to make comebacks after #MeToo.
Fox news Washington correspondent James Rosen left the network in December 2017 after 18 years, many as a mainstay reporter. NPR reported that Rosen, whose departure was not announced, was known at Fox for “flirting aggressively” and pursuing other employees. Two female Fox employees told NPR that they were groped or forcibly kissed by Rosen.
Just over a year after his flight from Fox, Rosen announced that he had accepted a job as an investigative journalist at Sinclair Broadcast Group.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned in May 2018, three hours after a New Yorker report found that four women accused the government official of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Though Schneiderman had been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and the #MeToo movement specifically, each woman accused him of violence towards them including hitting, slapping, or choking them non-consensually, while they were in relationships with him. “I have not assaulted anyone,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman resurfaced in January 2019, having retrained as a meditation teacher at a yoga studio in New York City. “Mr. Schneiderman has been through rehab and therapy and has been pursuing meditation practice as part of his recovery program. He’s not looking to hang up a shingle as a meditation teacher,” a spokesperson for the former AG said.
A year before #MeToo, Ari Shavit, Israeli journalist and writer of bestselling Israel text “My Promised Land” was accused of sexual assault by journalist Danielle Berrin, who wrote that Shavit cornered her and kissed and groped her non-consensually during an interview. Though Berrin did not identify Shavit by name, the author resigned from his jobs at Haaretz and Israel’s Chanel 10 just days later, when a second woman accused Shavit of inappropriate contact in a work environment. Shavit put out a statement apologizing and claiming “full responsibility for my actions.”
In December 2017, Shavit attempted a comeback through a speaking position at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. After the talk was announced, two more women came forward with allegations against Shavit, and the event was canceled.
Shavit once again attempted to return to the public eye in July 2018, in a lengthy mea culpa in Haaretz, titled “Ari Shavit: ‘I Was Blind to the Power I Had as a Privileged White Man’” and backed by a prominent Israeli feminist scholar. Following the article, Shavit’s own daughter’s former partner alleged to an Israeli publication that Shavit touched and tried to kiss her without consent while she was in a relationship with his daughter. Shavit said of the allegations that the woman “murdered my daughter this morning. She ruined her life. What was done to me is cold-blooded murder. A despicable act, people are being slaughtered in the street with no debate [taking place] or anything.” He also called the accusation a “blood libel,” comparing it to the ancient anti-Semitic conspiracies that have claimed that Jews murder Christian children and use their blood for baking purposes.
Bryan Singer is one of the most powerful and influential men who has been named during #MeToo. But so far, Singer has eluded major sanctioning — legal or professional. Producer of the recent “X-Men” movies and director of the box office record-breaker “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Singer has been accused of sexual misconduct toward minors and accused of rape three times. He has denied all accusations and has never been charged with a crime. In March 2019, a bombshell report in the Atlantic revealed three additional men who said that Singer had sex with them when they were minors, and one who said that Singer molested him on set when the man was 13 years old. Earlier Singer accusers reported recrimination from the filmmaker after they came forward. One, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who had accused Singer of rape in 2017, told the Atlantic that he learned that Singer may have reported his family to the IRS in the hopes of jeopardizing her green card, a claim Singer’s representatives denied. Singer denied all of the allegations.
In spite of the earlier allegations and those that arose at the time, Singer’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” soared at the box office, earning $900 million in international ticket sales. Following the success of the movie, studio executives were excited to announce Singer’s direction on another film, but ultimately faced backlash, delaying production. However, Singer is still slated to direct the movie, which follows the rise of a powerful female fantasy character who was sexually assaulted in her youth.
PBS Suspends ‘Tavis Smiley’ Following Sexual Misconduct Investigation (EXCLUSIVE) https://t.co/Hfin4Ilseh via @variety— James F. Wallace (@J39wallace) December 18, 2018
Longtime TV and radio host Tavis Smiley was suspended by PBS in December 2017, citing allegations of sexual misconduct.
Just weeks later, Smiley announced a new show, “The Upside With Tavis Smiley,” which aired on religious “The Word Network.” Additionally, Smiley sued PBS for breach of contract; PBS countersued, demanding that Smiley return almost $2 million of his salary.
Jeffrey Tambor was the toast of cultured Jewish America when he followed his run as Bluth family patriarch on cult classic “Arrested Development” with Pfefferman matriarch on Amazon’s outstanding portrait of Jewish America in transition, “Transparent.” But following the fourth season of the hit show, Tambor was accused of sexual misconduct by two members of the “Transparent” set in 2018, as well as a make-up artist from another project, Tambor’s contract was not renewed for the following season. Tambor apologized for being “volatile” on set, adding, “But I have never been a predator — ever.”
Since the accusations and Tambor’s departure from the series, the actor appeared in the fifth season of “Arrested Development,” on Netflix. He did publicity for the show, including a controversial interview with the show’s cast in which co-star Jessica Walter spoke about Tambor’s on-set verbal harassment, and a feature in the Hollywood Reporter in which he defended himself against assault accusations.
New York Times political reporter Glenn Thrush was placed on leave in November 2017 after being accused by four women of sexual misconduct including unwanted kissing and touching in Vox. The Times conducted an outside investigation, resulting in a statement by Times executive editor Dean Baquet that Thrush had “behaved in ways that we do not condone.” Thrush reportedly went through counseling and was moved to a different reporting team within the New York Times.
For a time, Thrush covered solely housing and urban development for the Times. But under a year after the accusation, without an announcement from the Times, Thrush seemed to return to his old politics and White House beat, consistently covering the President, elections, trade, and congress over the last year. His Twitter identifies him as the Times’ “DC correspondent.”
“Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner was accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant, then-“Mad Men” writer Kater Gordon in November 2017. She told the website the Information that one night, Weiner informed her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked. A year later, she was fired, though she had won an Emmy award for writing on the show. Weiner said that he didn’t remember making the comment. Weiner’s book tour was mostly canceled, and Gordon left television for good to found “Modern Alliance,” a harassment focused on fighting sexual harassment.
Since then, Weiner has made the prestige TV series “The Romanoffs” for Amazon. Weiner was reportedly given tremendous leeway with “The Romanoffs” by Netflix, in terms of budget and creative freedom.
Former editor of The New Republic and noted Jewish intellectual Leon Wieseltier acknowledged “offenses against some of my colleagues” in October 2017 — according to those colleagues, the offenses were forced kissing, propositioning, and ongoing sexual harassment.
Wieseltier has began to pad softly back into public life — his words were used as a blurb on “The Stakes Of History,” a new book on the study of Jewish history, published by Yale University in January 2018. He was spotted mingling at a ritzy DC book launch in March 2019, and loaned his thoughts to an Israel-focused op-ed in Bloomberg a month later.
To date, the man who started it all has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by over 90 women. He faces five charges of rape and sexual assault made by two victims; he will go to trial on June 3. A judge dropped charges that Weinstein forced oral sex on another woman after a prosecutor admitted to having made a serious mistake during the proceedings.
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny
This story "All The Famous Men Who’ve Tried To Come Back From MeToo" was written by Jenny Singer.