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Entertainment Weekly

TV

Alec Baldwin compares John Oliver, Stephen Colbert to 'grand juries' after sexual harassment confrontations

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Alec Baldwin has some thoughts on the recent, contentious celebrity interviews conducted by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert.

On Wednesday morning, the actor tweeted, seemingly in criticism, that the two late-night hosts are contributing to a climate where celebrity “pit stops” are beginning to resemble something much more intense. “Talk shows were once promotional pit stops for some blithe chit chat about movies, etc,” Baldwin wrote. “Now the likes of [Oliver] and [Colbert] have flipped that and they are beginning to resemble grand juries.”

Quickly facing a backlash on the thread, Baldwin then clarified he did not express a “preference” in his initial comments before calling someone who criticized his “obtuse” language an “angry” and “harsh” person.

Baldwin’s comments came a day after video surfaced (via the Washington Post) of Oliver pressing Dustin Hoffman on the allegations of sexual misconduct which have been made against him. Oliver was moderating a panel discussion for the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog, and eventually brought the topic up, using the reasoning that “it’s hanging in the air,” much to Hoffman’s dismay. Oliver expressed dissatisfaction with Hoffman’s initial response about harassment allegations made by Anna Graham Hunter, in which he said “it didn’t happen the way she reported,” saying what Hoffman has said so far on the topic “feels like a dismissal.”

Hunter claims that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate remarks to her in 1985 on the set of the TV film Death of a Salesman. In addition, producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis told Variety that Hoffman propositioned her inappropriately in 1991. Hoffman released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter apologizing for anything he did to put Hunter in an uncomfortable situation, concluding, “It is not reflective of who I am.”

After more back and forth, with Hoffman asking Oliver to understand the context of his interactions in the 1980s and early ’90s, the Last Week Tonight host criticized him for not showing appropriate contrition. “It feels like dismissals or recontextualizing it is not addressing it: It doesn’t feel self-reflective in the way the incident demands,” Oliver said. “I get no pleasure from having this conversation but you and I are not the victims here.”

Colbert has regularly tackled the topic of sexual misconduct on The Late Show as high-profile allegations have mounted in recent months. In one of his more notable interactions, he zeroed in on the harassment claims made against Ben Affleck, which the actor has admitted to and apologized for, in a mid-November interview. “This is a comedy show, correct?” Affleck asked when Colbert brought up the dozens of allegations against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, with whom Affleck often collaborated. (In a statement, Affleck expressed horror at the claims made against Weinstein and support for the women coming out against him.)

Oliver’s interaction with Hoffman proved sharply divisive. While many praised his dogged effort to challenge Hoffman on the subject, noting that it’s not something men publicly do to other men often, Oliver also faced a backlash for not letting an actor off the hook at what was intended to be a celebratory event. Actor Michael Rapaport had particularly choice language for Oliver: “This Motherf–ka John Oliver calling Dustin Hoffman ‘Dustin,'” he tweeted. “Motherf–ka you address this man as Mr. Hoffman. You came to moderate a discussion about a movie #JohnOliver, you selfish f–k, you ruined paying customers evening [sic] out in Manhattan.”

Baldwin later added to his comments by taking aim at the sentiments surrounding the “tidal wave” of sexual misconduct allegations, urging caution. “Thus far, we’ve had a tidal wave of accusations,” he tweeted. “But what’s next? H.W. is the low-hanging fruit here. And if you don’t get some form of conviction w him, that will hurt the cause. People have to believe that they’re are [sic] ‘ultimate’ consequences.”

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