Kevin Spacey’s ca­reer dims amid sex­ual al­le­ga­tions

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Josh Rot­ten­berg and Yvonne Vil­lar­real

In early Oc­to­ber, Kevin Spacey was right where he wanted to be: singing and ham­ming it up in front of an ad­mir­ing crowd.

In­side Stage 33 on the CBS Tele­vi­sion City lot in Los Angeles, a TV spe­cial cel­e­brat­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of “The Carol Bur­nett Show” was be­ing taped in front of a live au­di­ence, and Spacey was on hand as a guest star.

Decked out in a tuxedo, the star of stage, screen and tele­vi­sion joined Bur­nett, Ber­nadette Peters and Kristin Chenoweth as they sang songs around a pi­ano. He dusted off a Bing Crosby im­pres­sion and en­ter­tained the crowd be­tween takes with his Johnny Car­son. The 84-year-old Bur­nett in­tro­duced him as “an Os­car-win­ning guy and ev­ery­one’s favorite pres­i­dent.” That was then. By early Novem­ber, Spacey’s ca­reer was in free fall amid mount­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault that stretched back decades and, in mul­ti­ple cases, in­volved mi­nors. Net­flix, CBS and Sony were all scram­bling to dis­tance them­selves from him as quickly as pos­si­ble, even if it meant shut­ting down pro­duc­tion. In a mat­ter of days, a man who has won two Academy Awards and a Tony Award and been nom­i­nated for 12 Em­mys was be­ing all but erased from Hol­ly­wood. Lit­er­ally.

On Wed­nes­day, in a move that stunned long­time in­dus­try ob­servers, Sony Pic­tures con­firmed that the ac­tor was be­ing dropped from his role as J. Paul Getty in direc­tor Ri­d­ley Scott’s thriller “All the Money in the World.”

The film, which had been sched­uled to close AFI Fest next week, was only re­cently com­pleted and re­mains slated to open on Dec. 22, right in the heart of Os­car

sea­son. Plans were in place for Spacey to re­ceive a sup­port­ing ac­tor awards cam­paign.

First Sony pulled the film from the fes­ti­val, now ac­tor Christo­pher Plum­mer is step­ping in to re­place Spacey, as the pro­duc­tion scram­bles at con­sid­er­able ex­pense, and in­con­ve­nience to co-stars Michelle Wil­liams and Mark Wahlberg, to reshoot Spacey’s scenes in the hopes that the film can still make its re­lease date.

Oc­ca­sion­ally roles have been re­cast dur­ing film­ing, but usu­ally be­cause the orig­i­nal ac­tor died; to do so be­cause of scan­dal af­ter a film was al­ready com­pleted is un­prece­dented.

But so is Spacey’s cat­a­strophic plum­met from grace. Af­ter sto­ries in the New York Times and the New Yorker chron­i­cled ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse, many projects sought dis­tance from Har­vey We­in­stein’s com­pany and his name.

With Spacey, that dis­tance re­quired a re­moval of the man him­self.

“His ca­reer as he knows it, his stature in the in­dus­try, is over,” said El­iz­a­beth Toledo, a cri­sis PR ex­pert and pres­i­dent of Camino PR. “There’s no le­gal or [pub­lic re­la­tions] strat­egy that’s go­ing to re­store it.”

The col­lapse of Spacey’s ca­reer is just the lat­est in a string of dra­matic events that have en­gulfed the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try in the past month.

As long-hid­den al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct have sur­faced against in­dus­try heavy­weights in­clud­ing We­in­stein, Ama­zon Stu­dios chief Roy Price, direc­tor Brett Rat­ner, and most re­cently, Louis C.K., most have lost jobs, deals and sup­port­ers.

“Just be­cause these sto­ries haven’t been heard doesn’t mean these sto­ries haven’t been told,” said Leigh Gil­more, a women’s and gen­der stud­ies pro­fes­sor at Welles­ley Col­lege. “They just haven’t gained trac­tion. What we’re see­ing now is a new level of aware­ness, a new level of ac­count­abil­ity.

‘His ca­reer as he knows it, his stature in the in­dus­try, is over. There’s no le­gal or [pub­lic re­la­tions] strat­egy that’s go­ing to re­store it.’ — El­iz­a­beth Toledo, cri­sis pub­lic re­la­tions ex­pert

The abusers are ac­tu­ally suf­fer­ing con­se­quences for their ac­tions.”

In Spacey’s case, a seem­ingly self-cen­tered ini­tial re­sponse to the first al­le­ga­tion against him made an al­ready se­ri­ous prob­lem worse. On Oct. 29, Buz­zfeed re­leased a re­port in which ac­tor An­thony Rapp al­leged that Spacey had made sex­ual ad­vances to­ward him decades ago when he was just 14.

Hours later, Spacey is­sued a state­ment that quickly piv­oted from an apol­ogy for the in­ci­dent, which he said he couldn’t re­mem­ber, to a dec­la­ra­tion that “I now choose to live as a gay man.” The state­ment trig­gered a swift back­lash.

“I think his state­ment was the worst thing he could have pos­si­bly said,” said Danny Der­aney, a Los Angeles-based pub­lic re­la­tions ex­ec­u­tive. “The two points did not go hand in hand. The fact that he is gay has noth­ing to do with any­thing. It was poorly man­aged al­to­gether.”

By last Fri­day, as more al­le­ga­tions sur­faced, Net­flix an­nounced that the ac­tor would no longer be in­volved in the fi­nal sea­son of “House of Cards,” in which the ac­tor has starred for five sea­sons as Machi­avel­lian po­lit­i­cal leader Frank Un­der­wood.

Pro­duc­tion had al­ready been put on hold, but a de­ci­sion on the show’s fu­ture — with­out its lead­ing man — will likely be­come clearer af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, when pro­duc­tion is set to re­sume, ac­cord­ing to a source close to pro­duc­tion who was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly.

At the same time, Net­flix an­nounced that it would “not be mov­ing for­ward with” an­other Spacey project, a biopic about writer Gore Vi­dal, which had re­cently wrapped shoot­ing and was slated for re­lease next year. A re­lease, even through an­other dis­trib­u­tor, is un­likely.

As for “The Carol Bur­nett Show” spe­cial, CBS opted to cut Spacey from it too. A source close to pro­duc­tion said no de­ci­sion has been made on whether the mu­si­cal num­bers will be reshot.

The fu­ture of Spacey’s other ma­jor up­com­ing project, the drama “Bil­lion­aire Boys Club,” in which he costars along­side a young en­sem­ble cast in­clud­ing Ansel El­gort and Emma Roberts, is un­clear. The in­de­pen­dent film, which wrapped last year, is seek­ing dis­tri­bu­tion — a task that will no doubt be more dif­fi­cult in the wake of the scan­dal.

“It’s very dif­fer­ent now,” Toledo said. “Fif­teen years ago, peo­ple in a po­si­tion like Kevin Spacey would have had le­gal and PR strate­gies to move beyond this — even frankly a year ago or six months ago, his tra­jec­tory would have been a lot eas­ier. Now it’s very dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to have this level of ac­cu­sa­tion in the pub­lic sphere and be able to re­cover.”

In try­ing to cau­ter­ize its own Spacey-sized wound, Sony Pic­tures is ea­ger to pre­serve what­ever awards and box-of­fice hopes “All the Money in the World” might have.

That Spacey had a some­what lim­ited sup­port­ing role in the drama, which chron­i­cles the 1973 kid­nap­ping of John Paul Getty III, may make the job eas­ier.

Spacey had worked less than two weeks on the film, and his role has been de­scribed as a “loom­ing pres­ence,” sec­ondary to stars Wil­liams and Wahlberg. (If noth­ing else, re­plac­ing the 58-year-old Spacey with Plum­mer, who is 87 and said to be Scott’s first choice from the be­gin­ning, will re­move the need for the time-con­sum­ing old-age makeup that was ap­plied to Spacey for the role.)

Still, the task of swap­ping out a star weeks be­fore re­lease is daunt­ing. It will re­quire new pro­mo­tional materials and tweak­ing of the over­all awards cam­paign. It’s also un­clear if the fi­nal film could pos­si­bly be ready in time to screen for crit­ics groups (the New York Film Crit­ics Cir­cle is first out of the gate with year-end awards on Nov. 30) or the Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press Assn., whose Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion vot­ing closes Dec. 7.

The stu­dio is clearly bank­ing on the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence of Scott, whose di­rect­ing ca­reer stretches back 40 years and in­cludes such films as “Alien,” “Blade Run­ner” and “Gla­di­a­tor.” “This is some­thing only Ri­d­ley Scott can do,” said a source close to the pro­duc­tion.

As Os­car sea­son be­gins to heat up, Sony is hop­ing to avoid the fate that be­fell the 2016 drama “Birth of a Na­tion.”

That movie saw its on­celofty Os­car hopes dashed vir­tu­ally overnight when its direc­tor and star, Nate Parker, be­came en­meshed in a con­tro­versy over past rape al­le­ga­tions for which he had been ac­quit­ted.

With “All the Money in the World,” one long­time Os­car con­sul­tant, who de­clined to speak on the record be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, says the film’s for­tunes will ul­ti­mately rest on its artis­tic mer­its.

“I think they can sal­vage it. To pe­nal­ize an en­tire movie for the past in­dis­cre­tions and ter­ri­ble be­hav­ior of one of the many ac­tors in the movie is un­fath­omable. If it’s a good film, it’s a good film.”

Frazer Har­ri­son Getty Im­ages for BAFTA LA

AC­TOR KEVIN SPACEY at an awards gala in Bev­erly Hills on Oct. 27, just days be­fore ac­tor An­thony Rapp al­leged that Spacey had made un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances to him when he was 14.

Ai­dan Mon­aghan Sony-TriS­tar Pic­tures

SPACEY in makeup as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World.” Sony has since re­placed him.

David Gies­brecht Net­flix

THE AC­TOR in the hit Netf lix se­ries “House of Cards,” a Spacey-star­ring se­ries since its ’13 de­but.

David Gies­brecht Netf lix

KEVIN SPACEY in a scene from “House of Cards” on Netf lix, which has an­nounced that it has sus­pended pro­duc­tion on the se­ries in light of the sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions against the 58-year-old ac­tor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.