Review: ‘AKA Jane Roe,’ starring Norma McCorvey

May 23, 2020

by Carla Hay

Norma McCorvey and Gloria Allred in “AKA Jane Roe” (Photo courtesy of FX)

“AKA Jane Roe”

Directed by Nick Sweeney

Culture Representation: The documentary “AKA Jane Roe” interviews Norma McCorvey and an all-white group of people representing the working-class, middle-class and upper-class who talk about McCorvey and the impact she had on the abortion debate in the United States.

Culture Clash: McCorvey advocated for both sides of the debate at different times in her life.

Culture Audience: “AKA Roe” will appeal primarily to people who have an interest in abortion issues, but the documentary will also appeal to people who want an inside look at how the media and activist leaders can be manipulated by an attention-hungry person.

Norma McCorvey and Gloria Allred in “AKA Jane Roe” (Photo courtesy of FX)

Before she died of heart failure in February 2017, at the age of 69, controversial abortion-debate figurehead Norma Jean McCorvey participated in a documentary about her life and made a bombshell revelation while making the film. The ailing McCorvey had a “deathbed confession” about her extremely contradictory activism about abortion. That confession doesn’t come until the end of director Nick Sweeney’s absorbing documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” but the entire film offers a fascinating portrait of a deeply troubled woman who will forever be known as a groundbreaking plaintiff in abortion legislation.

A great deal of the documentary includes exclusive interviews with McCorvey and separate individual interviews with advocates on both sides of the abortion debate, as well as archival footage. As the title of the documentary indicates, McCorvey was also known by the alias Jane Roe, the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which the plaintiff won, and it resulted in making abortion federally legal throughout the United States in 1973. Prior to this Supreme Court decision, it was up to an individual state to decide if abortion could be legal or not in the state. McCorvey was given the alias Jane Roe to protect her privacy, but after the Supreme Court decision, she went public with her real identity.

McCorvey, a Texas resident in the Dallas area, was divorced and pregnant with her third child in 1969, at the age of 21, when she sought an abortion in Texas and was denied. By her own admission, she was also an alcoholic, drug addict and “street person” during her 20s, and she was in no position to be a healthy and responsible mother to a child. And she couldn’t afford to travel to a state that had less restrictive abortion laws than Texas.

McCorvey had already lost custody of her first child, Melissa (also known as Missy), who was born during what McCorvey describes as an abusive marriage to a husband whom she married when she was 16 and whom she eventually divorced. Missy was primarily raised by McCorvey’s mother. McCorvey’s second child from another man was put up for adoption. The child whom McCorvey was pregnant with when she was denied an abortion (which led to the Roe v. Wade case) was also put up for adoption.

Although one might assume that McCorvey’s seedy and troubled background would make her a less-than-ideal “poster child” for the pro-choice movement, the movement selected her because she was the exact type of underprivileged and uneducated woman who was the most vulnerable to getting an unsafe, illegal abortion that could kill her. The Roe v. Wade case, with attorneys Sarah Heddington and Linda Coffee representing the plaintiff, applies to all females. But the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that when abortion is illegal, poor people tend to suffer the most.

In the beginning of “AKA Jane Roe,” McCorvey tells her life story, by describing her unhappy childhood. She says that her mother was a “drunk” and a “two-faced bitch who didn’t want a second child—me.” She describes her mother as physically abusive to her and “someone who had a taste for the party life and didn’t want to let go.”

Her father couldn’t take it anymore and left the family when McCorvey was young. She became a juvenile delinquent, which set her on a path to becoming a drug addict, drug dealer and hustler by the time she was in her 20s. Andy Meiseler, who co-wrote McCorvey’s 1994 memoir “I Am Roe,” appears briefly in the documentary to talk about her background.

The documentary shows that McCorvey was in obviously failing health while doing these interviews. She’s wheelchair-bound and often wears an oxygen tube, even though in other parts of the movie, it’s clear that smoking is still a bad habit for her. When asked if she misses her family, McCorvey replies bitterly, “You can’t miss anything you never had.”

McCorvey also talks about knowing from an early age that her true sexual identity was being a lesbian. She describes how, at the age of 10, she and a friend named Rita, who was around the same age, robbed a gas station by stealing money from the register, so that they could run away to Oklahoma City. While the two girls were staying at a motel, a maid caught them kissing, and the two girls were arrested and sentenced to juvenile detention, partially because of the robbery but also because they were caught in homosexual activity.

As McCorvey remembers it, being in juvenile detention surrounded by other females confirmed her sexual preference: “I had a lot of girlfriends,” she says of her time locked up with other females. When she got out, she was sent to live with a male relative who sexually abused her. And then she got married at 16 to 22-year-old Woody McCorvey, only because (according to Norma McCorvey) her mother told that if she was having sex with him, she might as well marry him.

McCorvey also admits in the film that she got married because she knew that Woody had a lot more money than she did. She mentions that she always dreamed of becoming a movie star so that she could have a glamorous life. And she says something very telling which also explains her motivations for her controversial decisions: “I learned straight on that if you’re nice and quiet and polite, no one pays attention to you—and I like attention.”

After being a very vocal pro-choice advocate in the 1970s and 1980s, McCorvey went in the complete opposite direction in the 1990s and 2000s, by becoming a born-again Christian and voicing her support for the pro-life movement. Was this conversion sincere or was it all an act? In the documentary, she reveals that it was all an act, which she basically admits that she did for the money that pro-life groups were paying her.

The film takes a responsible journalistic approach by interviewing influential activists on both sides of the abortion debate. On the pro-choice side are Charlotte Taft (who was an abortion counselor at now-shuttered Routh Street Women’s Clinic in Dallas) and feminist attorney Gloria Allred, who had McCorvey as a client in the late 1980s. On the pro-life side are Rev. Flip Benham and Rev. Rob Schenck, who talk extensively about why the pro-life movement is working hard to make abortion illegal again.

Benham is by far the more fanatical of the two, since he doesn’t believe in any compromise in the abortion debate. He also advocates for and participates in using extreme tactics to get people to stop having or facilitating legal abortions. “I’m not an activist. I’m a Christian,” Benham insists, even though he is shown in a lot of footage holding picket signs and shouting insults at people who go into clinics that provide abortions.

Taft calls Benham a “constant harasser.” Benham describes himself as “born-again” and someone who used to be a “drunken buffoon.” He adds, “I wanted my wife to abort our twin boys … But I came to the realization that abortion is murder.”

Schenck says that people in the pro-life movement consider Roe v. Wade to “represent the most loathsome and terrible practices in our society: killing children.” Just like Benham, Schenck worked closely with McCorvey when she switched alliances and became an activist for the pro-life movement.

Taft says about McCorvey’s about-face: “Being friends with Norma was a complicated experience.” The documentary points out that even before McCorvey renounced the pro-choice movement and began to campaign against abortion, she had already alienated herself from much of the pro-choice movement when, in the 1980s, she admitted that the abortion she sought back in 1969 wasn’t because it was a rape pregnancy. She said she lied to the doctor about being raped because she thought it would increase her chances of getting a medically approved abortion in Texas.

Although Roe v. Wade was never about how or why pregnancies occur, McCorvey’s credibility and reputation were tarnished when she publicly confessed that she lied about that 1969 pregnancy being the result of rape. That’s why when there was a major pro-choice rally in Washington, D.C., in April 1989 (an estimated 300,000 people attended), McCorvey was not invited to speak at the rally, even though she was there. She also wasn’t invited to be on stage. Instead, there were several celebrity speakers, such as Gloria Steinem, Whoopi Goldberg, Valerie Harper and Cybill Shepherd.

It was at this rally where attorney Allred first met McCorvey, who would eventually become her client. Allred says of McCorvey being snubbed by the pro-choice leaders at the rally: “She felt that she had been denied the opportunity to be recognized and acknowledged.” Allred and McCorvey did a whirlwind publicity tour to rehabilitate McCorvey’s public image as a pro-choice advocate. But by 1995, McCorvey had converted to Catholicism, renounced her previous life as a pro-choice activist, and became heavily involved in pro-life activities and fundamentalist Christian proselytism.

One of the casualties of McCorvey’s highly publicized religious conversion was her relationship with her longtime partner Connie Gonzalez. Although they had been living openly as lesbians even after McCorvey’s conversion, McCorvey and Gonzalez supposedly agreed to their church’s demands that they no longer engage in any homosexual activity. According to Benham: “One cannot be a practicing homosexual and Christian at the same time. That would be a distinct impossibility.”

In archival footage of Benham baptizing McCorvey in a swimming pool, Gonzalez looks on with a mixture of fear and sadness, as if she knew what would inevitably happen to her relationship with McCorvey. After Gonzalez had a stroke in 2004, McCorvey left her in 2006. When McCorvey talks about Gonzalez (who died in 2015) in the documentary, it’s the only time that the feisty and defiant McCorvey seems extremely vulnerable and regretful. She describes Gonzalez as a “good person” who was the love of her life.

One of the must-see aspects about “AKA Jane Roe” is how the documentary shows the reactions of Allred, Taft, Benham and Schenck when the filmmakers show them the interview footage of McCorvey proudly confessing that she just used the pro-life movement to get money—she received an estimated $456,911 over several years—and she only said what the pro-life leaders told her to say, not because she actually had pro-life beliefs. All of them initially react with surprise, but once the reality sinks in of what McCorvey confessed, they each have different follow-up responses.

The documentary also includes McCorvey getting a major shock of her own, when she’s shown reacting in angry disbelief to the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The morning after the election, McCorvey (who supported Hillary Clinton) is shown excusing herself to go get sick in the bathroom after it was officially declared that Donald Trump was going to be the 45th president of the United States.

As for whether or not McCorvey’s final words should be believed, even after she told so many abortion-related lies over the years, she says in the documentary’s interview footage: “I am a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.” McCorvey may not have made it to Hollywood to become a glamorous movie star, but it’s clear that she did get her wish to become a famous actress after all.

FX premiered “AKA Jane Roe” on May 22, 2020. FX on Hulu premiered “AKA Jane Roe” on May 23, 2020.

2019 Comic-Con International: Disney Television Studios activities and exclusives

July 1, 2019

The following is a press release from Disney Television Studios:

Disney Television Studios including Twentieth Century Fox Television, ABC Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios takes over the San Diego Comic-Con convention with stars and creators of 14 of its fan-favorite shows descending on the world-famous gathering next month. In addition to exclusive sneak peeks of its programs and panel discussions with the casts and creators, the studio will rotate producers and stars through the ABC and 20th Century Fox Television booths on the convention center floor for autograph signings and activities, including distribution of exclusive 2019 poster tubes, collectible mini-posters, premium giveaways and DVD sales.

Please note: Talent is subject to change.

Descriptions of panel sessions and screenings follow:

THURSDAY, JULY 18

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

EMERGENCE (Produced by ABC Studios) – Beyond explanation … beyond understanding … lies the truth. Join the cast and executive producers for a first look at the pilot episode of ABC’s new drama series “Emergence,” followed by an exciting panel discussion. This character-driven genre thriller follows a police chief who takes in a young child she finds near the site of a mysterious accident who has no memory of what has happened. The investigation draws her into a conspiracy larger than she ever imagined, and the child’s identity is at the center of it all. Executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters with cast members Allison Tolman, Donald Faison, Clancy Brown, Alexa Swinton, Owain Yeoman, Ashley Aufderheide, Robert Bailey Jr. and Zabryna Guevara will all be in attendance. (Indigo Ballroom)

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (Produced by ABC Studios) –The cast and producers of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will return to San Diego Comic-Con in epic fashion as they take over Hall H for the first time ever! Be the first to hear the scoop about the show-stopping conclusion for season six and what awaits in season seven of Marvel’s flagship television show. With your favorite stars in attendance, including Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward, along with executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb, this is a must-see panel to celebrate seven seasons with the world’s greatest fans! This action-packed series from ABC Studios and Marvel Television airs Fridays at 8/7c on ABC. (Hall H)


4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

STUMPTOWN (Produced by ABC Studios) – Based on the “Stumptown” graphic novel, ABC’s new drama series “Stumptown” follows Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) – a strong, assertive and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great PI, but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police. Panelists include cast members Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson, Michael Ealy, Camryn Manheim, Tantoo Cardinal, Cole Sibus and Adrian Martinez, with executive producer Jason Richman and “Stumptown” graphic novel author Greg Rucka. (Indigo Ballroom)

FRIDAY, JULY 19

11:00 – 11:45 a.m.

BLESS THE HARTS (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – From the network that brought you the Simpsons, the Griffins and the Belchers now present the Harts! FOX’s new half-hour comedy, “Bless The Harts,” features your new favorite, good ol’ Southern family. Jenny Hart (Kristen Wiig) supports her lottery scratcher-obsessed mother, Betty (Maya Rudolph), and her witty, creative daughter, Violet (Jillian Bell). With the help of her eternally optimistic, dreamer boyfriend Wayne (Ike Barinholtz), they hope to one day achieve the American dream. While they are always struggling to make ends meet, they’re already rich in friends, family and laughter. Join us for an exclusive first look into your next animation obsession with executive producers, Emmy® Award winner Emily Spivey (“Wine Country,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live”), and Academy Award® winners Phil Lord & Chris Miller (“Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”), and the all-star cast behind the Harts! (Indigo Ballroom)
3:00 – 3:45 p.m.

SOLAR OPPOSITES (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – From the minds behind “Rick and Morty” come “Solar Opposites,” a new animated series that follows a family of aliens “from a better world” who take refuge in middle America. Join Justin Roiland (“Rick and Morty”), Sean Giambrone (“The Goldbergs”) and Mary Mack (“Golan the Insatiable”), along with executive producers Mike McMahan (“Rick and Morty”) and Josh Bycel (“Happy Endings”), for an exclusive first look into the series premiering in 2020 on Hulu. (Indigo Ballroom)

4:00 – 4:50 p.m.

BOB’S BURGERS (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Always one of the most entertaining panels at Comic-Con, the Emmy Award-winning animated FOX series “Bob’s Burgers” returns to San Diego with a few surprises in store! Creator and executive producer Loren Bouchard and executive producer Nora Smith will break news about the upcoming season, and the always entertaining cast including H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Larry Murphy and Megan Mullally will have you howling with laughter with never-before-seen footage, followed by a lively panel discussion and audience Q&A. (Indigo Ballroom)


5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED??! WITH FRED SAVAGE (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Acclaimed director and television star Fred Savage cannot wait a second longer to share the world of “The Flare,” the most mind-bending, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat sci-fi show never created. “The Flare,” based on TJ Whitford’s classic series of sci-fi novels, “The Moon is the Sun at Night” not only sizzled its way into living rooms nationwide but also inspired Fox to create its first-ever after-show, “What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage.” Join Fred, alongside stars of “The Flare,” Shiri Appleby (“Roswell”), Kevin Zegers (“Fear the Walking Dead”), Tyler Ritter (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), and co-creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser and director Jon Cassar (“24”) to get a sneak-peek screening of the fourth episode of the after-show dedicated to exploring the fandom surrounding the “The Flare.” “What Just Happened??!,” Fred’s half-hour hybrid comedy/talk show, airs on FOX on Sunday nights. Screening to be followed by conversation moderated by Fred Savage and fan Q&A. (Room 6DE)


6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

THE ROOKIE (Produced by Entertainment One and ABC Studios) – Join series star and executive producer, Nathan Fillion, as he discusses his latest role as John Nolan on ABC’s high-action drama “The Rookie,” as production begins on its second season. Joining Nathan for this intimate conversation will be longtime friend and “The Rookie” showrunner, Alexi Hawley. The two collaborators will also reflect on Nathan’s overarching career, spanning from “Firefly” to Shakespeare, and now, playing the oldest rookie in the LAPD. (Horton Grand Theatre)

6:45 – 7:45 p.m.

NEXT (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Join us for the world premiere of “neXt,” a propulsive, fact-based thriller about the emergence of a deadly, rogue artificial intelligence that combines pulse-pounding action with an examination of how technology is invading our lives and transforming us in ways we don’t yet understand. Coming to FOX in 2020, “neXt” stars John Slattery (“Mad Men”) as a Silicon Valley pioneer, who teams with cybercrime agent Fernanda Andrade (“The First”), to fight a villain unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Panelists to include creator and executive producer Manny Coto (“24”), executive producers and directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (“This Is Us”), Fernanda Andrade, Michael Mosley (“Ozark”), Jason Butler Harner (“Ozark”) and Eve Harlow (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) for a moderated conversation and fan Q&A. (Room 6DE)

SATURDAY, JULY 20

12:00 – 12:45 p.m.

THE SIMPSONS (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Now 30 years old and part of the mighty Disney empire, get inside insights and secret tips on the upcoming, brand-new season from Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike B Anderson, Stephanie Gillis and the voice of Lisa Simpson and panel moderator, Yeardley Smith. There WILL be freebies! (Ballroom 20)

1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

AMERICAN DAD! and FAMILY GUY(Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – It’s a Smith-family fun day with Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), Steve (Scott Grimes), Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) and Principal Lewis (Kevin Michael Richardson), plus executive producer and co-creator Matt Weitzman and producers Kara Vallow & Jeff Kauffmann who will treat “American Dad!” fans to a first look at scenes from all-new episodes coming soon to TBS … plus a few other surprises!
THEN
Join cast Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry and executive producers Rich Appel, Alec Sulkin and Kara Vallow from FOX’s hit animated comedy “Family Guy” as we celebrate our 20th anniversary! We’ll take a look back at some of our favorite moments over the last 20 years, plus a special sneak peek at the hilarity and hi-jinx in the upcoming season! (Ballroom 20)

2:30 – 3:15 p.m.

THE ORVILLE (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – From Emmy Award-winning executive producer and creator Seth MacFarlane, “The Orville” is back for season three and stopping in San Diego! Join the full crew of the U.S.S. Orville: Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J Lee, Mark Jackson and Chad L. Coleman, and executive producers David A. Goodman, Jon Cassar and Brannon Braga to get an exclusive look back at some of our favorite, never-before-seen moments of season two and a special sneak peek at the new and exciting missions in the upcoming third season! (Ballroom 20)

SUNDAY, JULY 21

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

MAYANS M.C. (Produced by Fox 21 Television Studios) – “Mayans M.C.” is the next chapter in Kurt Sutter’s award-winning “Sons of Anarchy” saga. Set in a post-Jax Teller world, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes is fresh out of prison and a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Come for an exclusive sneak peek at a scene from the upcoming season and a not-to-be-missed conversation with co-creator/executive producer/writer Kurt Sutter, co-creator/executive producer/writer/director Elgin James and executive producer/director Kevin Dowling, plus stars JD Pardo, Clayton Cardenas, Edward James Olmos, Sarah Bolger, Michael Irby, Carla Baratta, Antonio Jaramillo, Raoul Max Trujillo, Richard Cabral, Danny Pino, Emilio Rivera, Frankie Loyal, Joseph Lucero and Vincent Rocco Vargas discussing what to look forward to from season two. Moderator: Lynette Rice, Entertainment Weekly. (Hall H)

About Disney Television Studios
Disney Television Studios is a collection of studios comprised of 20th Century Fox Television, ABC Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios. DTS produces the most award-winning, culture-defining programming for all platforms including “This Is Us,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Homeland,” “Modern Family,” “black-ish,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “American Horror Story” and “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger.” Disney Television Studios currently produces 69 series across 16 broadcast, cable, digital and international platforms. Its programming now reaches more than a billion people every day across the world; in as many as 180 countries, across six continents, in 30 different languages.

2018 Comic-Con International: FX Networks activities and exclusives

June 25, 2018

The following is a press release from FX Networks:

FX Networks will have a major presence at San Diego Comic-Con this summer with the Emmy Award(R)-winning animated comedy series Archer, the highly-anticipated new drama series Mayans M.C., and the acclaimed drama series Legion. Always among the most popular draws of the annual show, the FX Networks sessions will include panel discussions with producers and actors, exclusive footage and more. The schedule is as follows:

Archer

Coming off its ninth hit season, FXX’s Archer will feature a panel discussion and Q&A on Friday, July 20 from 5:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. in the Indigo Ballroom of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.

Mayans M.C.

Mayans M.C., the next chapter in Kurt Sutter’s award-winning Sons of Anarchy saga, will be featured on Sunday, July 22 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. in Hall H ahead of its debut this fall on FX.

Legion

FX’s groundbreaking superhero series Legion will give fans a chance to dive deeper into the recently concluded second season on Sunday, July 22 from 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. in Hall H.

The cast and producers of Archer, Mayans M.C. and Legion will be signing autographs at SDCC. For an opportunity to participate, please visit https://www.comic-con.org/cci/exclusive-signings beginning July 2, 2018.

ABOUT FX NETWORKS

FX Networks, a business unit of 21st Century Fox, is comprised of the networks FX, FXX and FXM and the video on-demand app FXNOW. FX, the flagship general entertainment basic cable channel, launched in June of 1994 and is carried in 90 million homes. The diverse schedule features a growing roster of critically-acclaimed and award-winning hit dramas series, including Taboo, Legion, Snowfall, Trust and the upcoming Mayans M.C. and Mr Inbetween; the critically-acclaimed limited series American Horror Story, Fargo, American Crime Story and FEUD; acclaimed hit comedy series including Atlanta, Baskets and Better Things, and the upcoming What We Do in the Shadows; the dance musical series Pose, and the upcoming docuseries The Weekly with The New York Times. FX is the former home of the critically-acclaimed and award-winning hit drama series The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Damages, Sons of Anarchy, Justified and The Americans. The network’s library of acquired box-office hit movies is unmatched by any ad-supported television network. FXX, the newest network, launched in September 2013 and is carried in 86 million homes. Geared towards a young adult audience, the schedule features original series, movies, and acquired series. The channel is anchored by the acclaimed hit comedies It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Emmy(R) Award winning comedy series Archer, and You’re the Worst. FXX is also the exclusive cable home to The Simpsons, the longest-running comedy in TV history. FXM (formerly Fox Movie Channel) was launched in October of 1994 and is now carried in 57 million homes. Its schedule features classic films during the day (FXM Retro), and contemporary box office hits and acclaimed, award-winning films in the evening, as well as short-form award-winning original programming. FX Networks received 55 Emmy(R) Award nominations in 2017, the most of any basic cable network for the fourth consecutive year, after winning a basic cable record 18 Emmy Awards in 2016.

 

Louis C.K. scandal: Comedian admits he sexually harassed women; his career is ruined as he loses lucrative business deals

November 10, 2017

by Colleen McGregor

Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon
Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon at the Tribeca TV Festival’s sneak peek of “Better Things” Season 2 at Cinepolis Chelsea in New York City on September 22, 2017. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

Emmy-winning comedian Louis C.K. has admitted that “those stories are true” that he committed sexual misconduct by asking several women (who were co-workers or colleagues) if he could masturbate or expose his penis in front of them. In a statement issued on November 10, 2017, Louis C.K. (whose real name is Louis Székely) expressed regret that he abused his power, and said he was remorseful that his actions hurt the women he mistreated, his friends, loved ones and other people. The allegations were first reported in a New York Times article (published on November 9, 2017) that detailed experiences from five women who said that Louis C.K. sexually propositioned them by showing them his penis without their consent and/or asked if he could masturbate in front of them.

After the New York Times article was published, the backlash against Louis C.K. was swift and severe: FX, HBO and Netflix have all issued statements saying that they will not work with him anymore. The Orchard, the distributor of his film “I Love You, Daddy,” cancelled the movie’s New York City premiere (which was scheduled to take place on November 9, 2017), and has decided not to release the movie. (In the movie, which was written and directed by Louis C.K., one of the characters in the movie has a penchant for masturbating in front of people.) In addition, several public appearances from Louis C.K. have been cancelled.

The 50-year-old entertainer is known for his raunchy stand-up comedy routine, in which he often talks about sex and sometimes mentions that his addiction to porn caused problems in his marriage.  Louis C.K.  and artist Alix Bailey got divorced in 2008, after 13 years of marriage. The former spouses have two daughters together.

Louis C.K. is among the growing list of celebrities whose reputations and careers have been ruined in 2017, after several people went to the media to accuse them of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. Entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and filmmaker Brett Ratner are just three examples of those who have been accused of committing physical sexual assault in addition to verbal harassment. Weinstein and Ratner have denied any sexual contact that was non-consensual. Spacey made an apology to his first public accuser (actor Anthony Rapp, who told BuzzFeed his story), but Spacey claimed to not remember making any sexual advances on Rapp, who said he was 14 when a 26-year-old Spacey tried to have sex with him in 1986. Weinstein and Spacey have issued public statements saying that they are seeking treatment for their harmful actions that led to these problems. It remains to be seen if there will be any criminal charges or lawsuits filed against the accused as a result of the accusers going public.

Actress/writer/producer Pamela Adlon, who worked with Louis C.K. on the FX shows “Louie” and “Better Things,” issued this statement on November 10, 2017: “Hi. I’m here. I have to say something. It’s so important. My family and I are devastated and in shock after the admission of abhorrent behavior by my friend and partner, Louis C.K. I feel deep sorrow and empathy for the women who have come forward. I am asking for privacy at this time for myself and my family. I am processing and grieving and hope to say more as soon as I am able.”

Although FX has cut ties with Louis C.K. and his Pig Newton production company, which co-created “Better Things,” the show has not yet been taken off of the network’s schedule.