[Updated 31 May 2018] Morgan Freeman’s lawyer has sent CNN a 10-page letter, demanding that it retract the article in which several women, some unnamed, claimed that they had experience sexual harassment from the actor.
The letter, which says that CNN has “defamed Mr Freeman”, also took a swipe at CNN reporter Chloe Melas, who revealed in the article that she was biased in her story.
“As a supposed victim of the article’s subject, Ms Melas lacked the requisite impartiality and objectivity to fairly cover the story she was chasing,” reads the letter from lawyer Robert M. Schwartz of Irell & Manella. “Under those circumstances, CNN should not have allowed her to write it.”
CNN responded to this in a statement: “The unfounded accusations made by Mr. Freeman’s lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr Freeman’s own public statements in the aftermath of the story,” the network said. “CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue.”
[Original article 25 May 2018]
Morgan Freeman has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by several people, including entertainment reporters, film production assistants and staff of his production company Revelations Entertainment.
In a detailed report by CNN, a total of 16 people spoke about Freeman for the investigation, and eight of those 16 said they were victims of Freeman’s inappropriate behaviour. Others said they are witnesses to his misdemeanours.
One unnamed production assistant alleged that Freeman subjected her to months of harassment while she worked on Going In Style, which starred the 80-year-old actor alongside Michael Caine and Alan Arkin. She said that Freeman kept “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear” and he only stopped when Arkin told him to.
A production staff member of Now You See Me was also quoted as saying that Freeman made comments about her and other female colleague’s bodies on multiple occasions.
“He did comment on our bodies… We knew that if he was coming by … not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted,” she told CNN.
CNN reporter Chloe Melas, who co-wrote the report, said that she was also on the receiving end of Freeman’s inappropriate behaviour during a press junket for Going In Style over a year ago. The incident, part of which was recorded on camera, showed Freeman remarking “Boy, do I wish I was there” at a 6-month-pregnant Melas, while eyeing her up and down. In other instances not caught on camera, Melas claimed that Freeman also said to her “You are ripe.”
If that doesn’t make you cringe, what will?
A former male Revelations Entertainment employee gave his account of Freeman’s behaviour while on set of various productions.
“He would be verbally inappropriate and it was just shocking,” the former employee said. “You’re more shocked than anything because it’s hard to have the wherewithal to say to him ‘That’s inappropriate.’ You’re just like ‘whoa.’ It’s hard because on any set he is the most powerful person on it. It’s weird because you just don’t expect it from Morgan Freeman, someone who you respect.”
Freeman has released a statement in response to the accusations.
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” Freeman’s statement reads. “I apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected – that was never my intent.”
Note how he hasn’t actually denied doing what he has been accused of.
Freeman – a respected and critically acclaimed actor with numerous awards and nominations under his belt, including an Academy Award – is now being reviewed by the Screen Actors Guild. He was recently honoured with the SAG Life Achievement Award, but given these new accusations, the Guild is considering “what corrective actions may be warranted at this time.” At this point, it sounds like a retraction of the prestigious award is but a light consequence.
In other news, disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein is reportedly facing rape and sex act charges and is expected to turn himself into the NYPD on Friday, 25 May.