Theater Unions Condemn Workplace Harassment, Bullying And “Violent” Behavior In Wake Of Scott Rudin Allegations

Leaders of SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association and American Federation of Musicians Local 802 are condemning harassment, bullying and toxic environments and pledging “to hold accountable those who violate human and legal norms of fair, respectful and dignified conduct in the workplace.”

Though the joint statement does not name Hollywood and Broadway producer Scott Rudin as its target, the timing made it clear: “…every corporate Board of Directors should be deeply alarmed by credible reports of long-standing, repeated violent and aggressive harassing behavior by individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates. Workers who come forward to blow the whistle in these situations are incredibly brave and we applaud their courage.”

The statement comes after last week’s Hollywood Reporter story detailing allegations by four former employees of Rudin about the producer’s volatile and sometimes violent behavior. The employees described a toxic workplace environment in which the famously temperamental producer repeatedly berated, verbally and in at least one case physically abused and fired assistants. The article included accounts of Rudin throwing objects like a potato, a tea cup, a stapler and a lap top during his temper tantrums and, in one case, allegedly smashed a computer monitor onto an assistant’s hand, necessitating a trip to the emergency room.

“All harassment is not only detrimental to the health and welfare of workers, but also a serious threat to the proper functioning of a company,” said today’s joint statement from SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle and American Federation of Musicians Local 802 President and Executive Director Adam Krauthamer.

A source close to the unions confirmed to Deadline that the statement was prompted by the Rudin controversy.

Read the entire statement below.

The unions also “demand action on the part of our corporate counterparts to swiftly address credible allegations of harassment.”

“No worker should be subjected to bullying or harassment, whether or not they are a union member,” the statement says. “Over the past several years, our nation has finally begun to reckon seriously with harassment of all forms in the entertainment industry and beyond. As organizations representing more than 200,000 members in the arts, entertainment and media, we unreservedly condemn workplace harassment in all its forms. We pledge to work together, and with other allies, to hold accountable those who violate human and legal norms of fair, respectful and dignified conduct in the workplace.”

Rudin has not commented on the accusations. Deadline has reached out to Rudin’s office for a response to the unions’ statement.

Rudin’s many Broadway productions most recently include the massive hit To Kill a Mockingbird, Ivo van Hove’s energetic reimagining of West Side Story and the upcoming The Music Man, starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. In all, Rudin productions over the years have earned 17 Tony Awards, including Passion, Doubt, Gypsy, The Book of Mormon, Hello Dolly and The Boys in the Band, among others, and 47 nominations.

Sources close to the situation tell Deadline that Rudin has not been the subject of official complaints filed with the unions.

Today’s statement from the unions is the highest-level response in the wake of the Reporter story, though individual voices within the Broadway and Hollywood communities have spoken out. Last week, Annapurna CEO Megan Ellison, who worked with Rudin as an executive producer on the 2010 Coen Brothers remake True Grit tweeted that the Reporter piece “barely scratches the surface of Scott Rudin’s abusive, racist, and sexist behavior.” 

Jonathan Demar, a producer of Broadway’s Tony-winning musical Hadestown, posted an Instagram video titled “A Call For Broadway To Be Better,” specifically naming Rudin. In a Twitter thread, Demar wrote, “While Scott Rudin’s behavior is his own, there has been a culture that has allowed/celebrated it. All of us producers, especially white cis males, have our work cut out. This will take time to digest, but we have serious work to do in restructuring how business is done.”

Rudin also is a producer of the current NY PopsUp festival of small, impromptu live performances throughout the city, including at Broadway venues otherwise closed since the Covid shutdown on March 12, 2020.

At the most recent Broadway PopsUp event on Saturday, actor Amber Iman (Shuffle Along, Hamilton), onstage at the Broadway Theatre, encouraged the audience of invited Broadway cast members to speak out against abusive behavior.  According to the website Broadway News, Iman said, “I think we as a collective know what we’re up against. We’ve read the emails. We went to the town halls. We’ve seen the articles and the cover stories.” She added, “That was the past. We’re never going back to it.”

The unions’ statement in full reads:

Every worker deserves to do their job in an environment free of harassment of any kind, whether that harassment creates a toxic workplace or, certainly in the case of sexual harassment, when that behavior is also against the law.

All harassment is not only detrimental to the health and welfare of workers, but also a serious threat to the proper functioning of a company. Thus, every corporate Board of Directors should be deeply alarmed by credible reports of long-standing, repeated violent and aggressive harassing behavior by individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates. Workers who come forward to blow the whistle in these situations are incredibly brave and we applaud their courage.

No worker should be subjected to bullying or harassment, whether or not they are a union member. Over the past several years, our nation has finally begun to reckon seriously with harassment of all forms in the entertainment industry and beyond. As organizations representing more than 200,000 members in the arts, entertainment and media, we unreservedly condemn workplace harassment in all its forms. We pledge to work together, and with other allies, to hold accountable those who violate human and legal norms of fair, respectful and dignified conduct in the workplace.

We demand action on the part of our corporate counterparts to swiftly address credible allegations of harassment.

 

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