New criminal probe for Weinstein as harassment scandal grows
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood’s widening sexual harassment crisis saw new allegations leveled against Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Piven, while police in Beverly Hills announced they have launched criminal investigations over complaints received about Harvey Weinstein and writer-director James Toback.
The Beverly Hills Police Department did not specify the nature of the assault complaints, but Tuesday’s announcement comes less than a month after numerous women accused Weinstein of sexually harassing them at hotels in the city in an expose by the New York Times.
Weinstein has denied engaging in any non-consensual sexual contact. His representative Sallie Hofmeister had no immediate comment on the Beverly Hills investigation. The department said late Tuesday that it was investigating Weinstein and Toback after receiving “multiple complaints,” although the department did not specify the nature of the complaints.
Dozens of women, including actresses Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams, have alleged that Toback sexually harassed or assaulted them.
Toback has denied the allegations. He does not have a representative to field inquiries about the criminal investigation.
Allegations against Weinstein have led to a cascade of harassment allegations against other entertainment industry figures, with Spacey becoming the latest big name to draw scrutiny for alleged conduct decades ago.
Netflix suspended production on its final season of “House of Cards” on Tuesday amid allegations star Spacey made a sexual advance on actor Anthony Rapp in 1986 when he was 14.
On Monday, Netflix said it would end “House of Cards” after its upcoming sixth and final season, although the streaming network said the decision was made before Sunday’s BuzzFeed News report on Rapp’s allegations.
Spacey responded by saying he doesn’t remember the alleged encounter but if he acted the way Rapp alleges, “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” He also spoke publicly for the first time about being gay, which draw backlash from some observers as an attempt at deflection.
The decision to pause production Tuesday came before a second actor leveled allegations against Spacey.
Mexican actor Roberto Cavazos wrote on his Facebook page that he encountered Spacey at the bar of London’s Old Vic Theatre, where Spacey was artistic director from 2004-15, and the actor tried to fondle him against his will.
“It was more common for this guy, when he was in the bar of his theater, grabbing whoever caught his attention,” Cavazos wrote. “I didn’t stand for it, but I know some people who were afraid to stop it.”
Cavazos declined an interview request. There was no immediate reply to a request for comment from representatives for Spacey.
In a statement Tuesday, the theater expressed “deep dismay” at the allegations and said “inappropriate behavior by anyone working at The Old Vic is completely unacceptable.”
In recent weeks, Hollywood has reacted swiftly to allegations of sexual harassment and assault: Weinstein was fired from the company he founded within days after initial reports of sexual harassment were published in The New York Times earlier this month.
Netflix’s actions involving “House of Cards” are rare in an industry that puts commerce first.
Shows are infrequently derailed by concerns other than their ratings performance, said TV historian and former network executive Tim Brooks.
“It usually depends on how popular the show is, not to put too fine a point on it,” Brooks said Tuesday. He added that an actor’s popularity with his cast mates can also determine his fate.
“If they like him, if they get along with him, it’s easy enough to say, ‘If I don’t get my career ruined in this, I’ll stick with him,’” he said.
Netflix has not commented on plans for a Gore Vidal biopic starring Spacey that is currently in production.
Also Tuesday, CBS said it is “looking into” accusations by actress and reality star Ariane Bellamar that Emmy-winning “Entourage” star Piven groped her on two occasions.
On her Twitter account Monday, Bellamar alleged that one encounter took place in Piven’s trailer on HBO’s “Entourage” set and the other occurred at the Playboy Mansion.
Piven, who stars in the new CBS series “Wisdom of the Crowd,” said in a statement that he “unequivocally” denies the “appalling allegations being peddled about me.”
“It did not happen. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to come forward with their histories, and my hope is that the allegations about me that didn’t happen, do not detract from stories that should be heard,” he said.
In a Monday interview with The Associated Press, Piven said he was glad people had come forward with allegations against Weinstein and that he had never been in that situation.
HBO, which aired the 2004-11 series, said in a statement that it was unaware of Bellamar’s allegations until they were reported by media.
“Everyone at HBO and our productions is aware that zero tolerance for sexual harassment is our policy. Anyone experiencing an unsafe working environment has several avenues for making complaints that we take very seriously,” the channel said.
Kennedy reported from New York. AP Writer John Carucci in New York and Berenice Bautista in Mexico City contributed to this report.
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