A little over a week ago, The Hollywood Reporter published an exposé on megaproducer Scott Rudin. They spoke to multiple former employees, who painted a very visual picture of what it was allegedly like to work for Scott Rudin. And the main takeaway from that exposé was that if those former employees were telling the whole truth, then Scott Rudin was pretty much exactly the asshole you thought he was. There were so many stories about Scott Rudin being abusive and violent that about halfway through the exposé, I realized The Hollywood Reporter could have clocked in a shorter word count had they just listed the items Scott hadn’t thrown around his office.
Naturally, one could have expected an industry-wide fallout, with people announcing they don’t put up with that kind of toxic abuse to staff, and that they’d immediately be ending their working relationships with Scott. That didn’t happen. And because it didn’t happen, Tony-winning Broadway star Karen Olivo has announced she’s quitting her role in Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!, in protest of the industry’s reaction to the allegations against Scott Rudin. Yes, a Karen is Karen-ing, but for a very good reason.
Karen Olivo originated the role of Satine in the Broadway adaptation of the 2001 film of the same name. They played the role in the 2017 workshop, the Boston premiere, and in the 2019 Broadway production. She’s been nominated for numerous awards for her role, including a 2020 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (which hasn’t been handed out yet, because of COVID-19). Karen has already won a Tony Award, for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, for West Side Story in 2009. So they’ve been around, but for now, Karen is done with working on Moulin Rouge!. Karen posted an Instagram video yesterday and she felt pretty grossed out by the fact that not everyone was outraged by Scott’s behavior. So for those whose reaction was limited to an apathetic “Wow, that’s crazy. So…what’s for lunch?“, this is for you. via The Hollywood Reporter:
“Social justice is more important than being a sparkling diamond. Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets. The silence about Scott Rudin? Unacceptable. Unacceptable. That’s the easy one, y’all. That’s a monster. That should be a no-brainer. Those of you who say you’re scared, what are you afraid of? Are you going to protect your pocketbook? And let people go to the emergency room so you can do your next concert? That’s it. I don’t need to be on a stage. I need to be out here. People are more important than your pocketbook.
I want a theater industry that matches my integrity. Come on, y’all, why don’t we go make it? It’s not here, obviously.”
View this post on Instagram
Some people have spoken out against the allegations made against Scott Rudin, like the entertainment industry unions SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity, and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802, who all condemned workplace abuse with this statement:
“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.”
But people are still working with Scott “Watch Out For The Flying Baked Potato” Rudin. Several major theater and film production companies haven’t said anything about the allegations. He also has several productions still in the works that haven’t been impacted by the allegations of workplace abuse, like Netflix’s adaptation of The Woman in the Window, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth and Lila Neugebauer’s Red, White and Water.
Karen has left Moulin Rouge!, but it’s anyone’s guess to see how this plays out. Because one would assume that Karen would happily return if someone made a concrete promise to take action in the wake of the allegations. I don’t know if they want everyone to drop Scott Rudin like a hot potato, or if Karen would just be happy with a few producers on Broadway drawing a line in the sand and saying they wouldn’t work with the type of person who has allegedly sent employees to the ER with his violent outbursts. But as for Karen wondering why people would be too scared to speak up about Scott, I think it’s pretty clear why. I read that profile! They’re probably terrified Scott will track them down and whip an office phone at them. Maybe they’re dragging their heels on saying something because they want to build a protective tungsten-forged shield first. And I assume those things take time?