Wonder Boys author Michael Chabon apologizes for 'enabling' Scott Rudin's abusive behavior
The Kavalier & Clay author penned an emotional essay apologizing for his silence: "I knew enough."
Dozens of Rudin's former staffers have come forward with allegations of mistreatment, psychological and verbal abuse at his hands. Following a story published April 7 in The Hollywood Reporter, Vulture released an article on Thursday with accounts from 33 former assistants and interns at Rudin's production company over the years, detailing "not merely a toxic workplace but one of psychological trauma."
Last week, the producer announced he would "step back" from his Broadway and film projects in the wake of the allegations. He also released a statement to Vulture, saying, "The 'stories' you have cited specifically herein are in most cases extreme exaggerations, frequently anonymous, second- and third-hand examples of urban legend."
"Reading the accounts of Scott Rudin's present and former employees, of the abuse they suffered and were expected to endure at Scott Rudin Productions, has broken my heart," Chabon wrote in an essay posted to Medium on Friday. "In the roughly twenty years that I regularly collaborated with Scott, I worked with and got to know many of his employees — a generation of them — from the VPs, to the researchers, to the assistants who worked the phones."
Chabon wrote that he first met Rudin in 1994, when the producer optioned his first screenplay. Rudin also produced the 2000 film adaptation of Chabon's novel Wonder Boys, and worked with the author on an adaptation of his Pulitzer-winning book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which ultimately never came to fruition.
In that time, Chabon wrote, "I knew enough. I regularly, even routinely, heard him treat his staff... with what I would call a careful, even surgical contempt, like a torturer trained to cause injuries that leave no visible marks."
"Before my first meeting with him I had already begun to hear the war stories and anecdotes from more experienced people who had worked with him," he continued. "They seemed to accept, or resign themselves to accepting, Scott's behavior, or at least to locate it at the extreme of a spectrum, of abusive behavior among powerful men (and a few women) in Hollywood, that they accepted. There are a lot of angry people making movies and television, and the culture of Hollywood, until now, has offered little in the way of discouragement to those who feel their status is a license to shout, curse, rant, and hurl invective or objects."
Chabon said he was especially saddened to learn of the suicide of Kevin Graham-Caso, a former assistant to Rudin. Graham-Caso's brother David released a video on Sunday stating that Kevin suffered "severe" abuse under Rudin, and took his own life after struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
"I'm ashamed," Chabon wrote. "I regret, and I want to apologize for, my part in enabling Scott Rudin's abuse, simply by standing by, saying nothing, looking the other way. I regret most of all that Kevin Graham-Caso is not here for me to tell him personally how sorry I am."
Chabon is one of the few high-profile figures to speak out about Rudin since The Hollywood Reporter's story was published. On Sunday, Sutton Foster, who is set to star in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Music Man produced by Rudin, addressed the allegations in an Instagram Live video.
"I feel like the only positive outcome is the one that happened," she said. "I apologize if it seemed like I wasn't actively trumpeting my feelings, but I felt like I couldn't get a clear mind....I really am excited about retuning to Broadway, and may we just continue the change, and that's all I'm going to say. It's an unbelievably unfortunate situation."
On Wednesday, Foster's costar Hugh Jackman released a statement, saying, "I want to say how much I respect and applaud the people that have spoken up about their experience working with Scott Rudin. It takes an enormous amount of courage and strength to stand up and state your truth. This has started a conversation that is long overdue, not just on Broadway, and the entertainment industry, but across all workforce. The most important voice we needed to hear from was Scott Rudin, he has now spoken up and stepped away from The Music Man. I hope and pray this is a journey of healing for all the victims and the community."
The Washington Post also reported that A24, the production company that has collaborated with Rudin on recent films including Lady Bird and Uncut Gems, will not work with the producer going forward. A24 has yet to publicly comment on the allegations.