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Sexual Harassment Allegations Continue In The Entertainment Industry


More allegations of sexual harassment, another Hollywood star. Five women have accused the comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct. A New York Times story outlines the allegations, which have long been rumored. Louis C.K. is one of several high-profile men, including NPR's own former vice president of news, who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

The pace of allegations is moving so quickly, it can be hard to keep up unless you're one of those who has been in the know for a while. NPR's Ted Robbins has this report. And we should warn you, the next four minutes contain explicit language.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Five years ago, in 2012, the now defunct website Gawker had a story titled - well, we'll make it a little less crude - Which Beloved Comedian Likes To Force Female Comics To Watch Him Masturbate. No names, but it described a scene in a hotel room at the Aspen Comedy Festival.

Two years ago, then Gawker staff writer, Jordan Sargent, outlined more incidents. He named Louis C.K. but not the women involved. Sargent says he's glad it's now out in the open.

JORDAN SARGENT: The fact that a Times story came out and did affirm the rumors, I definitely did feel, you know, some sort of relief.

ROBBINS: The comedian Tig Notaro has also spoken out against Louis C.K. C.K. is executive producer of her Amazon series "One Mississippi," yet in one episode, Notaro has a scene which seems to mimic real life.


TIG NOTARO: (As Tig) Hey, Jack.

TIMM SHARP: (As Jack Hoffman) Hey. What's up?

NOTARO: (As Tig) I don't know. Maybe you can tell me. My colleague said she witnessed something pretty disturbing in your office this morning.

SHARP: (As Jack Hoffman) I don't know what you're talking about.

NOTARO: (As Tig) She said you masturbated in front of her.

SHARP: (As Jack Hoffman) What?

ROBBINS: According to The New York Times, Louis C.K. has apologized for what he termed sordid behavior in the past. We got no response when we emailed his representatives.

The thing is Louis C.K.'s comedy is well-known for its sexual frankness, including self-deprecating jokes about his own masturbating. He's called himself a prisoner of his perversion, which is why Jordan Sargent is surprised C.K. didn't use his comedy to come clean about any possible abuse.

SARGENT: I expected that one day he would bring it up in a comedy bit or just in some format because it's so adjacent to his art and because I had heard from so many people on the comedy scene that had heard this before.

ROBBINS: But he didn't. Now the premiere of C.K.'s new movie "I Love You, Daddy" has been canceled along with a scheduled appearance on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert." HBO has pulled his comedy specials from its on demand platforms. And FX, which airs C.K.'s series "Louie," says in a statement that it's deeply troubled by the allegations. And it says the matter is under review.

As Louis C.K.'s career comes undone by sex abuse allegations, actor Kevin Spacey's career seems to be erasing itself. A number of men say Spacey harassed or groped them when they were as young as 14. In a stunning move, director Ridley Scott and Sony Pictures are removing Spacey from the movie "All The Money In The World" even though the film was ready to be released next month. His scenes as J. Paul Getty will be reshot with Christopher Plummer. Spacey has already been fired from Netflix's "House Of Cards."

As for victims, more are speaking out. And on Thursday, the organization Women in Film announced plans to launch a helpline and legal aid for survivors of sexual harassment. But former Gawker writer Jordan Sargent says what's needed is a major cultural shift.

SARGENT: I don't think Hollywood deserves the benefit of the doubt. And I shouldn't put it just on Hollywood, obviously. You know, any industry where men have the power, I don't think deserves the benefit of the doubt now.

ROBBINS: As they say, stay tuned for more. Ted Robbins, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR based at NPR West in Culver City, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online, focusing on TV at a time when there's never been so much content. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity — from traditional museum offerings to popular culture, and out-of-the-way people and events.