It’s a day ending in “y,” so you know what that means: It must be time to hear about some more alleged celebrity fuckery! This time it’s CNN who has the report, and the accused is Morgan Freeman. The outlet spoke with 16 people, all of whom either witnessed Freeman’s alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, or were victims of it themselves.
Four people who worked in production capacities on movie sets with Freeman over the last ten years described him as repeatedly behaving in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two, including the production assistant on “Going in Style” whose skirt he allegedly attempted to lift, said Freeman subjected them to unwanted touching. Three said he made public comments about women’s clothing or bodies. But each of them said they didn’t report Freeman’s behavior, with most saying it was because they feared for their jobs. Instead, some of the women — both on movie sets and at Revelations — said, they came up with ways to combat the alleged harassment on their own, such as by changing the way they dressed when they knew he would be around.
But here’s a new twist: while most of Freeman’s alleged misconduct occurred either on a film set or at his production company, Revelations Entertainment, there were also some allegations during press junkets for his films. In fact, one the co-authors of this report, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, says she herself was subjected to his inappropriate behavior while he was promoting the film Going In Style over a year ago.
According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars [Alan] Arkin and [Michael] Caine, shook Melas’ hand, not letting go while repeatedly looking her up and down and saying more than once a variation of, “I wish I was there.” She says he also said to her, “You are ripe.” Cameras were on and recording during one of Freeman’s remarks to Melas — “Boy, do I wish I was there” — but not for the rest. As is common practice with such junkets, Melas was the only CNN employee there at the time.
Afterward, Melas reported what had happened to her supervisor, who instructed her to inform CNN human resources. According to Melas, she was told that CNN HR contacted their counterparts at human resources for Warner Bros., which produced and distributed the movie, and which like CNN is owned by Time Warner. Melas said she was also told that Warner Bros. HR could not corroborate the account because only one of Freeman’s remarks was on video and the Warner Bros. employees present did not notice anything. Melas and her supervisor agreed that she would not cover the movie.
It was after this incident that Melas decided to start asking around to see if anyone else had similar experiences with the actor. What she and co-author An Phung uncovered are disturbing tales of Freeman’s behavior, which is probably best summed up with this single quote from a former (male) employee of Revelations: “creepy uncle”. Unsolicited touching, hovering, staring at breasts, and at one point even asking a female staffer point-blank, “How do you feel about sexual harassment?”
But the report also illustrates the way that Freeman’s behavior was often normalized (quote: “Don’t worry, that’s just Morgan”) as well as lengths that these women went to avoid these interactions, like changing how they dressed if they knew he would be around, or simply brushing off his comments and moving on. The overwhelming impression is that many people were simply waiting for a story like this to come out in the public eye about Freeman — and that’s even without taking into consideration the years of scrutiny over his relationship with his step-granddaughter.
Of course, the OTHER overwhelming impression I get is that now I think I know what it would sound like if the voice of fucking God asked me how I felt about sexual harassment.