Content Warning: The following article contains details of alleged workplace abuse.
On April 7, Hollywood’s table was shaken when The Hollywood Reporter published a scathing investigative report on super-producer Scott Rudin’s longtime alleged workplace abuse of his employees, mostly consisting of lower-level assistants. Rudin’s alleged behavior was long-known in the industry, often dismissed and even glorified. As THR noted, they previously published a profile of him with a less than damning angle titled, “The Most Feared Man in Town,” referring to Rudin as “dazzlingly charming” after detailing his alleged cruelty.
Of course, that type of narrative comes from privilege, and Rudin, a rich and powerful white male, had loads of it. Back then, that type of behavior wasn’t openly described as abusive, but a “boss move.” It was the type of behavior that was encouraged in order to climb the ladder of Hollywood success. But, times have changed. An era that has been described as a “Hollywood reckoning” is afoot.
Though several of the accusers chose to remain anonymous due to fear of industry blacklisting and other forms of retaliation (which further proves that even with the progress we’re making in dismantling this culture, we still have a long ways to go), manager and producer Andrew Coles (Queen & Slim) went on the record with his alleged experience working with Rudin. At the time of the alleged abuse, Coles was a development executive.
“We were all shocked because we didn’t know that that sort of thing could happen in that office,” Coles. “We knew a lot could happen. There were the guys that were sleeping in the office, the guys whose hair was falling out and were developing ulcers. It was a very intense environment, but that just felt different. It was a new level of unhinged—a level of lack of control that I had never seen before in a workplace.”
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According to Variety, Coles has expounded on what happened after he decided to come forward on the record. While participating in a virtual panel for Anita Hill’s Hollywood Commission.
“On April 6, someone called the mental health crisis line of the LAPD and they phoned in a false murder suicide threat and targeted my home and office in West Hollywood,” Coles said on Thursday. “A SWAT team was sent to my home and office. My housemate was taken out of the house at shotgun point. There was a helicopter circling overhead. There were barricades in front of my street.”
Holy shit. There are so many layers to this. In addition to this information further supplementing how inappropriate and infuriating it is to hurl questions such as, “Why did you wait so long to say something?!” and “Why now?!” at accusers, the fact of the matter is...Coles is a Black man. Given the many deadly encounters Black people have had with law enforcement simply due to existing while Black, the stakes that Cole faced in that situation were high as fuck.
Variety further reported:
Coles emphasized that he had no idea if Rudin or anyone connected to him was involved in the false report, but he felt the timing was suspicious—and, as larger-than-life as the scene may appear, vicious efforts to silence journalists and sources is nothing new, as seen through Harvey Weinstein, who hired an army of spies, including former Mossad officers and private investigators, to follow survivors he had sexually abused and the reporters who had been speaking to the victims.
“I do not know if it was connected to my participation in this article,” Coles said of the SWAT team showing up to his house, the day before the Rudin article was published. “I do not know what the intention of whoever sent that SWAT team to my house—whether it was to intimidate, to dissuade me from further speaking, to have a chilling effect on anyone else who might speak. I don’t know who’s interested in upholding the status quo of how broken this industry is.”
At the time of the initial THR report, Coles said, “Part of the change we want to see in the industry means starting to talk about these things openly, to name names, to talk about the things that actually happened. And you don’t get a free pass for abusing people. I’m not afraid of Scott Rudin.”
On Thursday, Coles doubled down on that sentiment adding: “What I can tell you is I do not regret what I did and if speaking the truth makes me unable to work in this industry, it is not an industry that I want to work in. And I think that is the question that everyone has to ask themselves.”
Per THR, Rudin (via his spokesperson) declined to comment on any specific allegations mentioned in the initial report. Rudin, whose films have scored 151 Oscar nominations and 23 wins and whose theater production have earned him 17 Tony Awards, has stepped away from the film and theater industry since the report’s release.
While this type of transparency could be a step in the right direction toward holding individual toxic gatekeepers accountable, Coles believes this report involving Rudin isn’t isolated—it’s a system problem.
“It’s hard to say whether this is a changed moment. Only time will tell,” Coles said. “There is a cost to speaking the truth, and it is not a cost that should be borne by those who are lowest on the totem pole. This is not a change that can come from the bottom up—but it must come from the top down.”
If you need support and resources in connection to harassment and abuse in the workplace, please visit projectwhen.org.