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Olivia Munn and Multiple Women Accuse Film Producer Brett Ratner of Sexual Misconduct

Movie producer Brett Ratner has been accused of multiple cases of sexual misconduct or harassment — including by actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.

In an article published by the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, six women spoke out against the longtime Hollywood power player, 48, who directed the Rush Hour series and produced movies including Horrible Bosses and The Revenant.

In a statement to the L.A. Times, Ratner’s attorney Martin Singer vehemently disputed the specific allegations and said “no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”

Munn claims that while visiting the set of the 2004 Ratner-directed film After the Sunset, he masturbated in front of her.

“He walked out … with his belly sticking out, no pants on, shrimp cocktail in one hand and he was furiously masturbating in the other,” Munn said. “And before I literally could even figure out where to escape or where to look, he ejaculated.”

Munn said she let out a “startled scream” and raced out of the trailer. She said she immediately told the man who told her to go into the trailer. “It wasn’t a shock. It wasn’t surprise,” Munn recalled the man saying. “It was just, ‘Ugh, sorry about that.’ ”

Munn said she told her sister, Sara Potts, about the incident, who urged her to speak with a lawyer. Potts confirmed Munn’s account to the L.A. Times.

The actress said the attorney dissuaded her from going up against a powerful director.

“That did leave an impact on me,” Munn said. “How broken do women have to be before people listen?”

The actress wrote about the alleged incident in her 2010 collection of essays without naming Ratner. Later in 2010, Munn claims she saw Ratner at a party, where he reportedly bragged about ejaculating on magazine covers featuring her image.

“I’ve made specific, conscientious choices not to work with Brett Ratner,” Munn told The Times.

“It feels as if I keep going up against the same bully at school who just won’t quit,” she said. “You just hope that enough people believe the truth and for enough time to pass so that you can’t be connected to him anymore.”

Ratner “vehemently disputes” Munn’s claims, Singer told The Times.

Actress and model Natasha Henstridge claims that when she was 19, she was forced to perform oral sex on Ratner in his New York apartment after watching a movie with a group of friends. Henstridge alleges Ratner blocked the doorway when she tried to leave and began touching himself.

“He strong-armed me in a real way,” she said. “He physically forced himself on me. At some point, I gave in and he did his thing.”

Singer disputed the allegation to the L.A. Times, saying Ratner spent time with Henstridge but claiming the actress was “upset after learning my client had a girlfriend who he would not leave” for her.

Actresses Jaime Ray Newman and Katharine Towne claim Ratner made unwanted, aggressive advances to them on a plane and at a party, respectively. Singer disputed both accounts. 

Four people involved on the film Rush Hour 2 also came forward to describe a “sexually charged” work environment, and two background actresses said Ratner pursued them and offered them speaking roles. Singer disputed the claims, and James M. Freitag, an assistant director on the set, told The Times in a statement that “any complaints of any kind including sexual harassment would be immediately directed to my attention. There were no complaints reported to me whatsoever.”

Ratner, whose next project as a director is a Hugh Hefner biography starring Jared Leto, has been romantically linked in the past to stars including Mariah Carey and Lindsay Lohan.


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Donald Trump–From Broadway Producer to President

2017-02-09-1486675329-7561952-donaldtrump1copy.jpg

By Helaine Feldman, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 14, 2017

He was 23 years old, had a degree from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and had an extremely profitable family business waiting for him.

But Donald Trump thought he would like to be a Broadway producer. He met with David Black, a successful producer (George M! with Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters; The Impossible Years with Alan King; and Ready When You Are, CB! with Julie Harris, among others) and they joined together–Black providing the experience and know-how and Trump putting up a sizeable chunk of the money–for a new comedy, Paris Is Out, slated for the 1969-70 season.

The play starred Molly Picon, who in 1962 received a Tony nomination for her appearance in the Jerry Herman musical, Milk and Honey and was a popular performer who began her career in the Yiddish theatre, and Sam Levene, a Broadway veteran, the original Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls and star of the classic, Three Men on a Horse. The playwright was Richard Seff, who was adding a new credit to an already impressive resume.

2017-02-09-1486674384-5827948-ParisisOutPlaybillcopy.jpg
From original Playbill program; courtesy of PlaybillVault.com

Richard remembers: “I did not actually meet young Trump, except briefly and informally, for he was an investor and I didn’t even know he was involved until after we opened. I do recall standing next to him on two occasions during our 13 week run, at the back of the orchestra, where we both stood, watching the play. He had arrived on his own, in his white convertible, stayed awhile, then drove off.”

The play had a modest run, but ran into some bad luck along the way. Variety had a headline around the ninth week of the run which read: “Broadway down, Paris Up.” “For each week that we ran,” says Seff, “despite mixed reviews, our gross was creeping up to the point where the house manager told me, ‘If we get through Easter and Passover (traditionally bad for business), we’ll be here all summer.’ Alas, on Easter Sunday, there was a blizzard in New York and three ‘nervous hits,’ (Broadway talk for a production that was always on the edge of closing), were forced to shut down the next week. They were Noel Coward’s Private Lives with Tammy Grimes and Brian Bedford; Sheep on the Runway by Art Buchwald, and my Paris is Out!

All of us had about three months. We ran for 104 performances (including previews); audiences loved the play, and Brooks Atkinson, the dean of American critics (for whom a theatre is named), offered us a great quote: ‘A delightful family comedy in which Molly Picon and Sam Levene are in top form.’ Only we couldn’t use it because Mr. Atkinson had retired as New York Times critic and he did not want to undermine his replacement. Not a good break for us.”

The play did, however, have an afterlife. With original star Molly Picon in it, it broke house records at the Philadelphia Playhouse in the Park after closing on Broadway. Film star Pat O’Brien somehow was sent the play, loved it and toured for 48 weeks in dinner theatres around the country. “People thought it was a Jewish play because of Sam and Molly,” Seff told an interviewer, “but it had a 48 week tour with Pat O’Brien and his wife. Suddenly it was about an Irish family–without one line changed” Ann B. Davis (from TV’s The Brady Bunch), toured it, too. And, Seff adds, “A couple of years ago, 40-odd years after we closed on Broadway, a dinner theatre in Paradise, Pennsylvania played it for 11 weeks with great success.”

Today, of course, Donald Trump has gone on to other things…

But, what about Richard Seff? Now 89, he has been the quintessential hyphenate: an actor, agent, playwright, librettist, novelist, memoirist and critic. His book, Supporting Player: My Life Upon the Wicked Stage, catalogues his long career. “I have done everything in theatre,” he says, “but sell tickets.” His apartment reflects this and is filled with memorabilia: books, records, CDs and photos, lots of photos, of his friends and former clients including Chita Rivera and lyricist Fred Ebb (Chicago and Cabaret, to name a few). His latest gig is writing reviews of New York theatre for the website DC Metro Theater Arts.

2017-02-09-1486674669-768500-RichardSeff.jpg
Richard Seff; photo courtesy of artist

In 2004, he created an award, the Richard Seff Award, presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation each year to a character actor and actress, supporting players, who have devoted at least 25 years to their profession, have not achieved “stardom,” but continue to work as featured players–like he was–and is!

Cover: Donald Trump in 1976; photo: Bettmann Archive.
_________________________

Helaine Feldman, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes about theater performance and related features.

For more features from ZEALnyc read:

The Public Theater and The New Yorker Team Up to Talk Trump

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For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Schwarzenegger: OK Trump is still ‘Apprentice’ producer

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2016 file photo, Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives at the 2016 Governors Awards in Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger, star of the new version of "The New Celebrity Apprentice," is unfazed that President-elect Donald Trump has retained a producer's stake in the show. Schwarzenegger said Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, that it's just business, comparable to his situation when he became California's governor and retained a screen credit and kept earning royalties for the "Terminator" movie. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the new version of "Celebrity Apprentice," is unfazed that President-elect Donald Trump has retained a producer's stake in the show.



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FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a "USA Thank You" tour event in Cincinnati. A spokeswoman for producer Mark Burnett said Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, that President-elect Trump has an executive producer credit on "The New Celebrity Apprentice." The series, which was taped last February, debuts Jan. 2 with Arnold Schwarzenegger replacing Trump as host.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)LOS ANGELES (AP) — Donald Trump is gone from the boardroom of NBC's reboot of "Celebrity Apprentice" but he's kept a business connection to the reality show.



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What Does it Take to Make a Movie? Wisdom from Effie Gray Producer Donald Rosenfeld

When he was just a boy, one of the first movies that really stood out for Donald Rosenfeld was the epic World War II film, Bridge on the River Kwai. “My parents first took me to the Cinerama at age five in St. Louis where I grew up, probably because there was no babysitter available that night,” he recalls. In fact, many images from the film continue to stay with him. And the movie’s essential concepts came to represent the nature of producing films. “You have to build this thing and yet remain conscious that you’re also in the world. Because you can lose your life, (or your movie),” Rosenfeld explains. “You need to have a foot in the mad quixotic void of making a movie, but also be able to remain a centered human being. And I think that’s often forgotten in Hollywood today.”

He was also enchanted by the Robert Aldrich classic The Longest Yard which starred Burt Reynolds. “It’s set in a prison and about a football game. It showed me that you could make a movie about something impossible, which no one would ever do based on potential commerce alone,” says Rosenfeld.

Yet, somehow the film lives somewhere between total tragedy and comedy, and survives. And a magnificent movie was created breaking all the rules. If you create movies based on Instinct and passion rather than demographics and marketing concerns, you have a chance at greatness.

Since the the 1980s, Rosenfeld has been producing great movies like Howards End, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, Remains of the Day, Surviving Picasso, Tree of Life and Jodorowsky’s Dune. Rosenfeld was the President of the esteemed film company Merchant Ivory Productions for more than a decade.

And just last month, he debuted the film Effie Gray starring a stellar cast of actors including Dakota Fanning, Greg Wise, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Tom Sturridge, Derek Jacobi, Robbie Coltrane, David Suchet and Claudia Cardinale. In Emma Thompson’s original screenplay, based on a true story, a teenage Effie Gray, and adult art critic John Ruskin are in a loveless unconsummated marriage during the Victorian era when divorce was not an option. “It’s a very modern story that seemed alive,” says Rosenfeld. “There’s just so much about marriage, about discontent.”

While many are intrigued about movie making, most don’t really know the nuts and bolts — what it actually takes to get a film to the screen. Rosenfeld shared the nitty gritty of what producing a film involves.

Hire a great diva-free actress like Dakota Fanning to star in your film.

Every day, she’s grateful for all. She’s like Paul Newman who I worked with on Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. They embrace the luck of their life as opposed to resting on their laurels. They’re really out working. They’re out trying things. She’s like a great Hollywood star from the Garbo era.

Also, Dakota knew everybody’s name from the smallest crew member to the most elevated. She was as interested in talking to Emma Thompson as she was our Key Grip and Electrics. She’s a real person and that’s not that often the case, especially with people who have grown up in this business.

It can go either way. But she was completely engaged. One day she was sweeping the streets with me when we had to rush and get a set ready. She was always saying, ‘What can I do? Put me to work.’

When making a movie, expect the unexpected and carry on.

Movies are full of tremendous disasters — natural and otherwise. On the Ballad of the Sad Café a tornado literally brought down our western town set. We had rented Willie Nelson’s property and the set just disappeared!

We rebuilt it all and then 45 days later continued shooting. But then the IRS came and locked up the whole set because Willie had some tax issues — we weren’t allowed access to our new set. We eventually enlisted Senator Moynihan to come and fight for us against the Revenue Service foreclosure, and we were able to finish the movie.

That movie was just fraught with problems. But you solve them. And sometimes those problems lead to a better movie. So many times people say, ‘It’s raining: we cannot shoot today.’ But rain in general looks beautiful on film.

I say, ‘So we’ll shoot something. Let’s make something out of it.’ And some of those shots become the most beautiful shots in the movie. Whatever befalls you, you have to continue shooting your movie — especially on location with a tight budget.

Always keep your cast and crew happy.

Every day is different and kind of a performance. You are taking care of 150 to 200 people. And you have to be resilient and open to that actual day. It really is exciting. You have to keep people inspired and entertained and keep morale up.

You have to figure out a way to do it every day. When I was down in Texas and we had a terrible tornado, we had Vanessa Redgrave, Rod Steiger starring in the film. We had Walter Lassally on camera, who had shot Tom Jones and invented something called Day for Night which allows you to shoot in the day but it’s night.

We had Willie Nelson there because it was his ranch and we had Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

I called Zakir Hussain who’s a great tabla player who had done film scores for us. He’s now become a kind of a rock star with the Grateful Dead: I said, ‘You’re coming down here.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’

I said, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I’m in San Anselmo, California. I’m not going anywhere.’ I said ‘you’re coming here.’ So, he finally came and he did an Indian Rag, playing all night. Willie eventually joined. Waylon Joined and Kris Kristofferson, who was visiting Vanessa Redgrave, In the end we had a concert and crew and cast party that went on forever.

We brought in wagons of beer and barbecue. I have to say for the next six weeks, my crew was pretty happy. And these were 115 degree days with rattle snakes everywhere. Willie and his family were amazing. They took such good care of us.

The film producer is responsible for everything.

It’s as if the director is the errant son and the producer is the father. The only directors I know who are kings are their own producers — people like Steven Spielberg or Francis Ford Coppola who are also producers.

That’s when a director starts to really run the show. On my movies I choose who works with the director, whether it’s the art director, the costumer, composer or the actors. I’m the final word. I certainly permit my director to come and be part of it and I’ll listen to him.

But I have final cut of the movie. I finance them independently: So I make my movies with the huge collaboration of 200 people!

But the bottom line is we make them very cheaply but beautifully, so the money’s on screen. I have a producing partner, Andreas Roald, who’s a former Norwegian television star turned producer. And he’s been an incredible complement to what I do and an all-around good guy. He and myself really decide everything.

A good attitude will get you far.

Producers watch everything. I watch all the footage. I can tell people, we really blew it or we have to do more. In so many cases you’re far off and away, so you’ve got to find a way to make things work and you do.

Sometimes I’ll fly out, look at footage and fly back four hours later. A movie is something that you experience. It’s not perfect. If it were, it would be ugly. The beauty of movies is that something great can come out of near disaster, something beautiful that comes out of even mistakes.

Sometimes I’ll jump in and be in a scene because we’ve lost an actor. I can be the back of their head. Whatever it takes you do it. You do what you need to do. But most of all you’re thinking about tomorrow.

You’re thinking things are going this way today. How are we going to get tomorrow to be even better? How can I make that happen? How can I make it work? And you do it. And it’s always a challenge, but a happy challenge because you’re making your movie. How many people get to do that?

Being a film producer is like being the captain of a ship.

Almost every shooting day, you’re the captain. But you also have to go down with the ship. i am blamed for everything. Everyone has demands and needs and often excuses, And the reality is you have to stick by the movie and be the one who’s smiling.

One thing (producer) Ismail Merchant showed me from the beginning is no matter what happens, you’ve got to get it done. But you also have to do it with some level of kindness and charm because we’re making these movies from our hearts.

Find material that you love and feel passionate about.

I loved Effie Gray. Until this point, you’ve never seen a Victorian movie about people like us, They’re always about the kings and queens and Victoria and her lovers or young Albert.

I just couldn’t find a Victorian movie that wasn’t based on a novel, that was real – that actually dealt with non-aristocratic, non-royal people. Where we could get some sense that this fascinating era is the beginning of the modern age. I thought you can only do it through people who aren’t hidden in the history with all the regalia.

Effie Gray had been taken out of an idyllic, agrarian life up in Scotland. She’s brought down to London and she thinks the city’s going to offer great wonders. She really got into this hopeless arranged marriage.

Emma had been reading Parallel Lives:Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose. I knew the book and the stories. And I really wanted to do something original with an original script.

There’s just so much about hope filled marriage, met with sadness and discontent. It’s a very modern story and seemed alive. I thought let’s go make this.

Donald Rosenfeld

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Photo credit: David Salle 2015

Dakota Fanning and Greg Wise

2015-05-29-1432931825-3743678-DakotaFanningandGregWise.jpg
Photo credit: David Levinthal

Emma Thompson

2015-05-29-1432931864-132728-EmmaThompson.jpg
Photo credit: David Levinthal

All photos used with permission.

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Amy Poehler Comments On Death Of ‘Parks & Rec’ Producer Harris Wittels

Amy Poehler was honored at Thursday night’s unite4:humanity gala for her work with Worldwide Orphans Foundation, but the “Parks and Recreation” star used the event to pay tribute to Harris Wittels. The 30-year-old “Parks and Rec” producer, writer and guest star died on Thursday at his home.

“Today, I lost a friend,” Poehler said. “I lost a dear young man in my life, who was struggling with addiction and who died. Just a few hours before we came. […] I’m sharing it with you because life and death live so close together and we walk that fine line every day. At the end of the day when things happen in our lives we turn to the people that we love and we look to our family and our community for support and we lean on people in a hope that they will ease our pain.”

Wittels had gone to rehab twice for drug addiction. He memorably talked about it during an episode of the Nerdist podcast “You Made It Weird.”

“I have done drugs recreationally since I was, like, 12,” Wittels said in the episode, which aired in November of last year. “The thing that happens with opiates is you get sick. You fucking go into withdrawals. So now it’s like I have to do drugs, or I’m not well.”

No cause of death has been determined for Wittels yet. According to the Los Angeles Times, an autopsy will likely be performed this weekend and results of any toxicology tests will not be known for more than six weeks.

Poehler wasn’t the only member of the “Parks and Recreation” team to comment Wittels’ death. Rob Lowe, who also appeared on the show, tweeted his condolences:



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Harris Wittels, ‘Parks And Rec’ Executive Producer, Found Dead At 30

Harris Wittels, co-executive producer of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” was found dead at his Los Angeles home on Thursday. TMZ was first to report the news, which was confirmed to The Huffington Post by a spokesperson for Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

In a statement to The Huffington Post, a Los Angeles Police Department representative said the 30-year-old was found by his assistant at around 12 p.m. PT on Thursday. The cause of death is not yet determined, and will be decided by coroner.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, police responded to a call to Wittels’ home for a possible overdose.

Wittels had spoken about his battle with drug addiction in the past, and had been to rehab twice.

In addition to “Parks and Recreation,” which ends it series run next week, Wittels also worked on series such as “Eastbound And Down,” and “The Sarah Silverman Program.” He is also credited with coining the term “humblebrag,” a type of boast disguised in modesty. He published a book in 2012, “Humblebrag: The Art Of False Modesty,” based on his Twitter account.
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Dallas Austin Signed 8×10 Photo w/COA R&B Producer Hip Hop Legend

Dallas Austin Signed 8×10 Photo w/COA R&B Producer Hip Hop Legend


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