Hollywood is starting to speak up about film and Broadway producer Scott Rudin’s long, alleged history of abusive behavior toward staff and collaborators. Rudin’s behavior has been heavily documented in both a Hollywood Reporter exposé and a Vulture.com deep dive.
On Saturday, the New York Times published an extensive story interviewing such erstwhile Rudin collaborators as Rita Wilson, David Geffen, Robert Fox, and playwright Adam Rapp. In one particularly harrowing section, Wilson talked about her experience working with Rudin on Broadway for Larry David’s 2015 play “Fish in the Dark,” the same year she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“When she told Mr. Rudin the news, she said, he complained that she would need time off during Tony voting season and asked to see her medical records, while Anna Shapiro, the director, grew upset about having to find a replacement,” the story reads. “A few days later, just before the curtains rose, Ms. Wilson received a call from her agent, saying her surgeon needed to call the insurance adjuster immediately, per Mr. Rudin’s demands. The memory still pains her.”
“I felt like he was trying to find a way to fire me legally,” Wilson told the New York Times. “He is the kind of person who makes someone feel worthless, unvaluable and replaceable.”
A spokesman for Rudin told the New York Times that “his recollection was that Ms. Wilson had wanted to open the show and then leave, but that he and the director had not wanted her to delay treatment.”
In the same story, “South Park” creator Matt Stone (also one of the writers on Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon”) said he and producer Anne Garefino gave Rudin an ultimatum before he announced last weekend he’d be stepping back from Broadway. “I said, ‘Your actions have made it impossible for us to keep working together,’” Stone said.
“He’s had a bad temper,” David Geffen told the New York Times, “and he clearly needs to do anger management or something like that.”
Many staffers have gone on record with stories detailing alleged abuse they endured at the hands of the titan producer. Stories include Rudin allegedly smashing a computer on an assistant’s hand or reportedly throwing objects such as a baked potato or office supplies at staffers. Rudin last week announced he would be stepping back from both his Broadway duties, including as a producer on “The Music Man,” and from movies, including a handful of A24 projects, to address his behavior. In the NYT story, it was also revealed that Rudin is resigning from the Broadway League.
Meanwhile, on Friday, novelist and screenwriter Michael Chabon issued an apology for remaining silent about Rudin’s behavior. Chabon, who said Rudin optioned his first screenplay in 1994 before the two collaborated on the 2000 film “Wonder Boys,” posted the statement via a Medium.com essay.
“I’m ashamed. I regret, and I want to apologize for, my part in enabling Scott Rudin’s abuse, simply by standing by, saying nothing, looking the other way,” he wrote.
“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” author described being particularly affected by the recent suicide of one of Rudin’s former assistants, Kevin Graham-Caso, whom he remembers.
“It was a gut-punch to learn, from his brother David’s recent video, about his suicide, following years of struggle with PTSD,” Chabon wrote.
He added, “I regularly, even routinely, heard him treat his staff, from the new kid doing the coffee run to the guy just under Scott on the SRP organizational chart, with what I would call a careful, even surgical contempt, like a torturer trained to cause injuries that leave no visible marks.”
Chabon said he chalked up Rudin’s behavior to the Hollywood norm, but said their partnership finally ended in 2010 when Rudin “turned the fury, vitriol and vituperation against me, in a dispute over the terms of a deal, in a series of potent Rudin email bombs packed with nails, razor blades and personal insults. It wasn’t until some five years later, when he began — behind our backs — to demean and shit-talk my wife, that I finally drew a line, and resolved not to work with him again.”