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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.

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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

‘Outside the Box’ Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

The Honest, Touching Emotion of ‘Milk and Honey’ at the York

Pedrito Martinez–A Look Back on the Journey Thus Far

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

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Schwarzenegger: OK Trump is still ‘Apprentice’ producer

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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 shar