Neil DeGrasse Tyson scandal: National Geographic suspends ‘StarTalk’ while investigating sexual harassment allegations against Tyson

January 3, 2019

by Colleen McGregor

The National Geographic Channel (also known as NatGeo) has taken the science-oriented talk show “Star Talk” off the air during its investigation into sexual harassment claims against “StarTalk” host Neil DeGrasse Tyson. According to Variety, two women have gone public with their accusations: “Bucknell University’s Dr. Katelyn N. Allers claimed Tyson groped her at an event in 2009, while a former assistant, Ashley Watson, said Tyson made repeated inappropriate sexual advances toward her.” In addition, musician Tchiya Amet claims that Tyson raped her in the 1980s when they were both graduate students.

NatGeo, which is owned by Fox, announced in November 2018 that it was investigating the allegations. The fifth season of “StarTalk” aired three episodes, mostly recently on November 26, 2018. A NatGeo rep told Variety: “In order to allow the investigation to occur unimpeded we chose to hold new episodes of ‘StarTalk’ until it is complete. We expect that to happen in the next few weeks at which time we’ll make a final decision.” Tyson is also the host of “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” which was set to premiere on Fox on March 3, 2019, and on NatGeo on March 4, 2019. The networks have not yet announced if “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” will be televised as planned.

Tyson, who has denied the allegations, is one of numerous celebrities who’ve been accused of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement that arose during late 2017, when once-powerful public figures in media and entertainment (such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Russell Simmons, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer) lost their jobs after their alleged sexual misconduct acts that spanned decades were exposed by the news media. Weinstein is the only one who has been arrested for sexual assault (he is pleading not guilty), and Spacey is expected to be arrested and charged with sexual assault sometime in January 2019.

In a statement on his Facebook account, Tyson commented: “In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. But what happens when it’s just one person’s word against another’s, and the stories don’t agree? That’s when people tend to pass judgment on who is more credible than whom. And that’s when an impartial investigation can best serve the truth – and would have my full cooperation to do so.”

March 15, 2019 UPDATE: Fox and NatGeo have issued this joint statement: “The investigation is complete, and we are moving forward with both StarTalk’ and ‘Cosmos.’ ‘StarTalk’ will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for ‘Cosmos.’ There will be no further comment.”

November 7, 2019 UPDATE: Indiewire has reported that “Cosmos: Possible Words” will premiere on March 9, 2020. According to Indiewire, the show “will venture through both time and space, starting at the dawn of the universe and moving to a futuristic 2039 New York World’s Fair, before moving further into the future.” The cast of “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” will include Seth MacFarlane (who’s an executive producer of the show) as President Harry Truman, Patrick Stewart as astronomer William Herschel, Viggo Mortensen as Soviet plant geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, and Judd Hirsch as atomic-bomb creator Robert Oppenheimer.

Les Moonves scandal: Longtime TV executive resigns as CBS Corp. chairman/CEO after sexual assault allegations; wife Julie Chen’s CBS tenure might also end

September 10, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Longtime TV executive Les Moonves, 68, has exited his position as CBS Corp. chairman/CEO in a cloud of scandal, after The New Yorker published allegations from six women who claimed that he sexually assaulted them by violently forcing them to give him oral sex or sexually harassed them by ruining their careers after they refused his sexual advances. Moonves abruptly resigned after the story was published on September 9, 2018.

The allegations came after six other women accused him of the same misdeeds in the same time period (1980s to early 2000s) in a New Yorker article published in July. At the time, Moonves admitted that he made sexual advances to some of the women, but denied that he forced himself on anyone or retaliated if they refused his advances. The CBS board then voted to keep Moonves in his job while CBS would investigate the allegations. However, the additional number of accusers and the detailed stories that surfaced two months later were apparently too much, and Moonves (who was reportedly negotiating his exit package after the first wave of accusations were made public) stepped down and released this statement:

“For the past 24 years it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS’s renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company. The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed. Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.  Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.”

Les Moonves
Les Moonves at the CBS Upfronts in New York City in 2017 (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS)

CBS announced that it would donate $20 million of Moonves’ salary to the Time’s Up movement that is aimed at assisting victims of sexual harassment and assault. However, when it was reported that the $20 million would be deducted from an approximate $100 million severance package that Moonves was reportedly getting, it sparked outrage on social media from people who think Moonves should not be receiving any severance pay. More outrage ensued when CBS said it would not release the outcome of the investigation conducted by two law firms hired by CBS to look into the accusations against Moonves.

The irony is that in December 2017, Moonves co-founded the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which is chaired by Anita Hill.

Julie Chen, Moonves’ second wife whom he married in 2004 after a messy divorce from first wife Nancy, issued a statement after the accusations surfaced in July by saying that her husband was a “moral” man and that she stood by him. Chen and Moonves got romantically involved and openly dated while he was married to his first wife.

Chen, 48, is a co-host of CBS daytime talk show “The Talk” and the host of CBS reality show “Big Brother.” She was absent from “The Talk” on September 10, issuing that statement that she was taking time off to spend with her family. Chen and Moonves’ son Charlie was born in 2009. Moonves has three adult children from his first marriage.

Now that her husband has left his powerful position at CBS under scandalous circumstances, it might be a matter of time before Chen will leave CBS, regardless if the marriage ends in divorce or not. Chen’s career was so inextricably tied to Moonves and his position of power that it might be difficult for her to find work on a similar level at another network.

September 18, 2018 UPDATE: As expected, Chen did not return to “The Talk,” and officially resigned from the show in a videotaped message that aired on the show on September 18. In the message, Chen said that she was leaving “The Talk” to spend time with her husband and their son Charlie. She briefly got tearful during her statement, and she thanked her co-hosts and the rest of “The Talk” team for the time that she spent with them. Chen had been a co-host of “The Talk” since its 2010 debut. The search is on to find the person who will replace Chen on the show. “Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who has been filling in as a substitute, is considered a frontrunner for the job. Meanwhile, Chen will probably exit CBS once her contract ends as host of “Big Brother.”

Chris Hardwick re-instated at AMC after sexual-abuse investigation

July 25, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Chris Hardwick (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
Chris Hardwick (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Chris Hardwick is returning to hosting duties at AMC after being suspended while the network conducted an investigation into allegations that he sexually abused his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dkystra. AMC has announced that Hardwick will return as host of “Talking Dead” on August 12, 2018.

On June 14, 2018, actress/model Dykstra posted an essay on Medium claiming that an unnamed ex-boyfriend (who was obviously Hardwick) inflicted sexual and verbal abuse on her during their relationship. Dykstra and Hardwick dated from 2011 to 2014. Hardwick, 47, denied the allegations, but AMC suspended him and his talk show “Talking With Chris Hardwick” (which had been scheduled to premiere that month) while conducting the investigation. In the aftermath of the allegations, Hardwick had his scheduled appearances (including moderating AMC panels) cancelled  at Comic-Con International in San Diego and the San Diego Music-Comedy Festival. After Dykstra (who is 29) made her accusations, Hardwick’s wife Lydia Hearst and his ex-girlfriends Jacinda Barrett, Janet Varney and Andrea Savage all made statements to publicly support him and declare that Hardwick is not abusive.

AMC issued this statement: “Following a comprehensive assessment by AMC, working with Ivy Kagan Bierman of the firm Loeb & Loeb, who has considerable experience in this area, Chris Hardwick will return to AMC as the host of ‘Talking Dead’ and ‘Talking with Chris Hardwick.’ We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.”

Actress/comedian Yvette Nicole Brown, a frequent “Talking Dead” guest, replaced Hardwick at Comic-Con as moderator of the AMC panels that he would normally moderate. She will be a guest host of “Talking Dead” when the show returns on Aug. 5, 2018.

Hardwick also hosts the NBC game show “The Wall.” NBC said it would investigate Dysktra’s allegations, and has made no further comment. It appears that NBC will keep him as host of “The Wall.”

Chris Hardwick scandal: TV host/comedian loses shows after being accused of sexual assault

June 18, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Chris Hardwick
Chris Hardwick (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

TV host/comedian Chris Hardwick, 47, has lost several of his shows and has had appearances cancelled after his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra accused him of sexually abusing her during their relationship, which lasted from 2011 to 2014. In an essay posted on Medium on June 14, 2018, Dykstra (who is 29) claimed that an unnamed ex-boyfriend forced her to have sex with him many times, and he was verbally abusive and controlling throughout their relationship. Dykstra (who is an actress and model) also claimed that after she and the ex-boyfriend broke up, he had her blacklisted from several companies in the entertainment industry. Although Hardwick was not named in the essay, the descriptions and timelines described in the essay make it clear that it is him. Dykstra (who is the daughter of Oscar-winning visual artist John Dykstra) also claims that she has audio and video to back up many of her claims.

Hardwick has denied the sexual assault allegations. He has been married to heiress Lydia Hearst since 2016. He issued this statement about Dykstra: “Our three-year relationship was not perfect — we were ultimately not a good match and argued — even shouted at each other — but I loved her, and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion in any way and at no time did I sexually assault her. When we were living together, I found out that Chloe had cheated on me, and I ended the relationship. For several weeks after we broke up, she asked to get back together with me and even told me she wanted to have kids with me, ‘build a life’ with me and told me that I was ‘the one,’ but I did not want to be with someone who was unfaithful.”

Hardwick may not be a household name, but for more than 10 years, he has been a big star in the world of nerd culture, and he was a rising media star on a career path similar to Ryan Seacrest, who hosts several shows on multiple networks and platforms. Hardwick was the founder of Nerdist Industries, which he launched in February 2012, and sold to Legendary Entertainment in July 2012. Hardwick was CEO of Nerdist until his contract expired at the end of 2017. In the wake of the allegations, Nerdist has removed Hardwick’s name from its website and has disavowed the company’s previous association with him.

To sci-fi/comic-book fans, Hardwick was best known as the host of several talk shows on AMC, such as “Talking Dead” (an after-show for “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead”), “Talking Preacher” (an after-show for “Preacher”) and “Talking With Chris Hardwick.”

AMC issued this statement: “We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years. We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously. While we assess the situation, ‘Talking With Chris Hardwick’ will not air on AMC.”

Hardwick has also been a moderator at numerous high-profile panels and events at Comic-Con International in San Diego and other similar events. His appearances at this year’s Comic-Con International have been cancelled. He is also a stand-up comedian. His appearance at the 2018 San Diego Music-Comedy Festival has also been cancelled.

At NBC, Hardwick has hosted the game show “The Wall” since 2016. Hardwick also hosted NBC’s “The Red Nose Day Special” in 2017 and 2018. In a statement, NBC says it is reviewing Dykstra’s allegations and is “continuing to assess the situation and will take appropriate action based on the outcome.”

Prior to hosting “The Wall,” Hardwick hosted the Comedy Central game show “@ Midnight With Chris Hardwick” from 2013 to 2017. The show won two Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (in 2015 and 2016) for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Social TV Experience.

Hardwick first became known to national TV audiences as the host of MTV’s dating show “Singled Out,” which was on the air from 1995 to 1998.

July 25, 2018 UPDATE: AMC has ended Hardwick’s suspension and given him back his hosting duties after the network concluded its investigation into Dystra’s allegations. Click here for more details.

Guess announces Paul Marciano’s resignation, settlements over sexual harassment claims

June 12, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Fashion company Guess has announced that co-founder Paul Marciano has resigned as executive chairman, but he will remain on the company’s board of directors. In addition, Guess has revealed in a public filing that the company has reached non-confidential settlements totaling $500,000 with five unidentified individuals who have accused Marciano of inappropriate sexual conduct.

The news comes after Marciano was accused by several women, including supermodel Kate Upton, of sexual harassment, such as unwanted kissing, groping and sexually aggressive verbal and written communications where Marciano allegedly used his power to try to have sexual contact with women who were employed by Guess.  Upton went public with her allegations in February 2018, and her claims were corroborated by at least one witness. Marciano denied all the allegations, but he stepped down from day-to-day responsibilities after Upton went public with the allegations. Guess then said that it would conduct an internal investigation. The day that news broke of Upton’s accusation, Guess’ stock fell 18 percent.

According to Reuters: “Guess said its investigation found that Marciano on certain occasions exercised poor judgment in his communications with models and photographers.”

Paul’s brother Maurice Marciano has been named chairman of the board for Guess. Guess was founded in 1981 by brothers Georges, Armand, Maurice and Paul Marciano. Over the years, Guess has had several famous models and entertainers in its ad campaigns, including Claudia Schiffer, Upton, Anna Nicole Smith, Drew Barrymore, Adriana Lima, Paris Hilton, Amber Heard, Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Lopez and Camila Cabello.

Harvey Weinstein arrested for sex crimes, released on $1 million bail

May 25, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Harvey Weinstein at The Weinstein Company party in celebration of “Wind River” at Nikki Beach in Cannes, Frances, on May 20, 2017. (Photo by Dave Benett)

On May 25, 2018, disgraced entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein turned himself into the New York Police Department, where he was arrested and charged with rape and forced oral sex. According to the Associated Press, the rape charge is for an unidentified woman who claims that Weinstein raped her at a New York hotel room in 2013. The oral sex charge is for a 2004 incident in which former aspiring actress Lucia Evans claims that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at his New York office. During his arraignment, he pled not guilty and was released on $1 million bail, with constant electronic monitoring and a ban on traveling beyond New York and Connecticut. Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Brafman says that Weinstein will seek to have the charges dismissed.

In October 2017, the New York Times and the New Yorker reported that Weinstein has a long history of sexual misconduct allegations (going back as far as the 1980s), and that he silenced many of his alleged victims with financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements.  In the months since those reports were published, more than 80 women have come forward to claim that Weinstein sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them. Weinstein has denied all the allegations, and says any sex acts he committed were consensual.

After the reports were published, Weinstein was fired by The Weinstein Company (the entertainment firm that Harvey co-founded with his brother Bob); Harvey’s second wife, Georgina Chapman, divorced him; and the company filed for bankruptcy. The Weinstein Company has since been purchased by an investment group and is expected to change its name.  Several industry organizations (including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) have expelled Harvey Weinstein from their membership, and he has been sued by several women for sexual harassment/sexual misconduct. Ashley Judd, one of his accusers, is also suing him for defamation because she claims Harvey Weinstein damaged her reputation and career after she rejected his sexual advances.

Harvey Weinstein’s downfall is widely considered to be the turning point of the #MeToo cultural movement, which has survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault publicly telling their stories and seeking justice. The #MeToo movement has also led to sexual misconduct allegations against many other famous and powerful men, often resulting in the accused losing their jobs and/or being sued.

October 11, 2018 UPDATE: The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has dismissed the sexual assault charge against Weinstein in the Evans case. According to CNN, Evans’ attorney Carrie Goldberg implied that the charge was dropped for political reasons because of a “feud between the NYPD and the DA’s office.” Goldberg added that the dropped charge “does speak to a system desperate in need of reform.” Weinstein still faces five charges for sex-related crimes.

Mario Batali, Ken Friedman accused of sexual assault; police investigations are underway

May 21, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Mario Batali
Mario Batali (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC)

New York-based celebrity restaurateurs Mario Batali and Ken Friedman have been accused of sexual assault, and Batali is under criminal investigation for it, according to the CBS News program “60 Minutes.” The program televised a bombshell report on May 20, 2018, alleging that Batali committed sex crimes and sexual harassment over the course of many years. The “60 Minutes” report featured interviews with several former employees of The Spotted Pig, a New York City restaurant co-owned by Friedman and frequented by Batali. Although many of the accusers’ claims were first reported by the New York Times in December 2017, the “60 Minutes” report includes new details about Batali’s alleged sexual assault against one of his former employees.

The accuser, who wished to remain anonymous,  claims that Batali sexually assaulted her at The Spotted Pig in 2005, when she used to work for him at Batali’s restaurant Babbo. She says Batali invited her to The Spotted Pig, and she believes she was drugged without her knowledge and consent because she vomited and felt disoriented before passing out. She alleges that before she passed out, she remembered Batali kissing her. The former Babbo employee woke up to injuries on her body, knowing that something sexual had happened to her without her consent because she found semen stains on her skirt. She says that when she confronted Batali about the alleged assault, he said nothing. Although the accuser says she went to police and even had a rape-kit test done on her, she ultimately decided not to file a police report against Batali, out of fear of retaliation and because she feared there wasn’t enough proof that any sexual acts he may have committed were without her consent. (On a semi-related note, Babbo fired executive chef Frank Langello in January 2018, after he was accused of sexual misconduct, according to the restaurant-industry website Eater. Langello had worked at Babbo for more than 17 years.)

Another woman, who also wants to remain anonymous, is claiming that Batali drugged and raped her at Babbo in 2004. The New York Times reports that the New York Police Department is also investigating this accusation against Batali.

Batali is denying the claims of sexual assault, but in December 2017, he acknowledged and made a public apology for sexually inappropriate conduct against many of his female employees and colleagues. The apology came when Eater published an article exposing Batali’s alleged misdeeds. He was subsequently fired as a co-host of ABC’s “The Chew,” and he announced that he was stepping away from his businesses. Friedman did the same thing around the same time: He made a public apology for his behavior, and he stepped down from his businesses; he is denying that he committed any non-consensual sex acts.

A subsequent report published by Eater  in December 2017 detailed allegations of rampant sexual misconduct at restaurants owned by Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, the company co-founded by Batali, Joe Bastianich and Joe’s mother Lidia Bastianich. Joe Bastianich (who is a judge on Fox’s “MasterChef”) was named by several former anonymous employees as a deliberate enabler/participant in the sexually abusive behavior, which accusers claim was happening for about 20 years.

After the “60 Minutes” report aired, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group (which owns 28 restaurants worldwide) issued a statement saying that it is in the process of ending the company’s involvement with Batali.

Here is Batali’s statement to “60 Minutes” about the claim that he sexually assaulted a Babbo employee in 2005 while she was unconscious: “I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions. I am not attempting a professional comeback. My only focus is finding a personal path forward—a path where I can continue my charitable endeavors—helping the underprivileged and those in need.”

The former Spotted Pig employees who told their stories to “60 Minutes” did not remain anonymous. They include former waitresses Trish Nelson, Carla Rza Betts and Natalie Saibel, as well as former manager Jamie Seet and former bartender Erin Fein. They all said that Batali and/or Friedman frequently harassed them physically and verbally. Seet claims that she witnessed Batali sexually assaulting a woman by putting his hands in or on her genital area while she seemed to be unconscious. This alleged assault was caught on surveillance video, and Seet claims that she and other Spotted Pig employees saw the video, but they did not report it to the police. This was a story she also told to the New York Times. Fein claims that Friedman groped and kissed her without her consent while they were in his car in 2014, and then ordered her not to tell anyone. Nelson also claims that Friedman did the same thing to her.

As for why the accusers did not file formal complaints, they all said that it was common knowledge that Batali’s and Friedman’s power in the close-knit restaurant industry meant that the two men could destroy the careers of anyone who spoke out against them. And if any incidents of harassment or abuse were reported to supervisors at The Spotted Pig, former employees say that nothing was done about the problem, because Friedman was one of the alleged perpetrators. For example, Seet told “60 Minutes” that Batali had grabbed her breasts while she was on the job, but when she told Friedman about it, he laughed and dismissed her concerns. According to “60 Minutes,” The Spotted Pig, which opened in 2004, did not have a human resources department until 2017.

Seet also claimed that Friedman “blacklisted” her when she tried to find a job at another restaurant. In one example, she says that she had a job offer rescinded, and was told that she wasn’t hired for the job because of Friedman. All the accusers say that rampant sexual harassment isn’t just a problem for The Spotted Pig and the restaurant industry but for society as a whole, especially in places where there are very few women in power.

But even having a woman in power doesn’t guarantee a safe working environment. April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig chef who co-founded the restaurant with Friedman, issued a statement to “60 Minutes” saying that she regrets not doing more to protect her employees, and that she is in the process of ending her partnership with Friedman.

Dozens of famous and powerful men have been accused of sexual misconduct since the #MeToo movement became a major cultural force in late 2017. Many of the accused have lost their jobs and have been sued in civil cases, but criminal cases against them have been rare, since the required burden of proof is much larger in order for a criminal case to make it to court. Entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons are all reportedly under criminal investigations for sex crimes, and it remains to be seen what the outcomes of those investigations will be.*

Disgraced actor/comedian Bill Cosby is the only celebrity in several years who has been convicted of a felony sex crime. His conviction, which took place in April 2018, was for the 2004 rape of Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s women’s basketball team.

*May 25, 2018 UPDATE: Harvey Weinstein was arrested for felony sexual assault in New York City. He has pled not guilty.

Kate Upton accuses Guess co-founder Paul Marciano of sexual harassment; Guess stock value plummets

February 1, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

 Kate Upton and her dog Harley (Photo courtesy of Link AKC)
Kate Upton and her dog Harley (Photo courtesy of Link AKC)

The stock value of fashion company Guess sharply declined one day after supermodel Kate Upton accused Guess co-founder/creative director Paul Marciano of sexual harassment. On January 31, 2018, Upton took to social media to post this message: “It’s disappointing that such an iconic women’s brand @GUESS is still empowering Paul Marciano as their creative director. #metoo.” She later wrote in a separate message: “He shouldn’t be allowed to use his power in the industry to sexually and emotionally harass women #metoo,”

Shares in Guess dropped nearly 18% on February 1, 2018, according to MarketWatch. As one of Guess’s biggest shareholders, Marciano owns about 12,367,360 shares, so the sharp decline in the company’s stock has cost him about $40 million on February 1, 2018.

Upton did not give further details in her online accusation but she said in a TMZ paparazzi video that she will eventually tell her full story. Marciano told TMZ in response to Upton’s accusation: “If she has a claim, there’s one place to tell the truth and that’s in court or to the police.”

Marciano co-founded Guess in 1981 with his brothers Georges, Armand, Maurice and Paul. Upton was a Guess model in 2010 and 2011. Other famous women who have been Guess models range from Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith in the 1990s to Paris Hilton in the 2000s to more recent models such as Gigi Hadid, singer Camila Cabello and Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez is the star of Guess’ Spring 2018 campaign. She issued this statement to Us Weekly:  “My position on these issues is well known, as I have been very vocal about them. I do not condone any acts of sexual harassment, violation, or misconduct. Any accusations should be fully and thoroughly investigated. I will continue to support our rights as women.”

February 9, 2018 UPDATE:

Kate Upton has given interviews to Time magazine and ABC’s “Good Morning America” detailing her allegations against Paul Marciano. She claims that in 2010, when she was 18, Marciano made unwanted sexual advances toward her during a lingerie photo shoot. Upton says that he groped her breasts and told her it was because he wanted to see if her breasts were real. Upton also says that Marciano grabbed the back of her head so she could not move and began kissing her on her neck and  lips without her consent. Fashion photographer Yu Tsai says he was an eyewitness to this alleged harassment, and he backs up Upton’s story. Upton also claims that on this occasion and others, Paul Marciano aggressively touched her and tried to get her to be alone with him, but she refused. Paul Marciano is still saying that Upton’s claims are “utterly false.”

Charlie Walk scandal: Music executive dropped from ‘The Four’ after sexual harassment allegations

January 31, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Charlie Walk
Charlie Walk (Photo by Brian Bowen Smith/Fox)

Veteran music executive Charlie Walk has been dropped from Fox’s singing competition “The Four: Battle for Stardom” after two women who used to work with him have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment, according to a Deadline report published on January 31, 2018. In addition, Walk has also been placed on leave by the Republic Group, where he served as president. He joined the company in 2013 as executive vice president of Republic Records. Universal Music Group, the owner and distributor of Republic, issued a statement that it is investigating the allegations and will make a decision about Walk’s employment status when the investigation is completed. Walk, who is married with children, has denied all the allegations.

Walk was one of four judges on “The Four,” a  talent contest in which the winner gets a record deal with Republic. Sean “Diddy” Combs, Meghan Trainor and DJ Khaled are the show’s other judges. Former Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie is the show’s host.

“The Four” (which is produced  by ITV Entertainment and Armoza Formats) premiered on January 4,  2018. Walk already taped the episode that airs on February 1, 2018, but sources told Deadline that Walk will not be on the show’s season finale  that airs on February 8, 2018. “The Four” has had bad reviews and mediocre ratings, averaging a little more than 3 million U.S. viewers per episode.

Pictured from left to right: “The Four” host Fergie with “The Four” judges DJ Khaled, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk. (Photo by Brian Bowen Smith/Fox)

One of Walk’s accusers is Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith, who went on the Internet on January 29, 2018, to describe Walk as a “scumbag” boss who repeatedly harassed her with lewd comments, unwanted groping and sexually inappropriate text messages. In a lengthy open letter to Walk, she also described an incident in which a drunken Walk allegedly forced her onto a bed at his home with his unknowing wife in the next room. Coopersmith said she rejected Walk’s sexual advances but his alleged harassment left her traumatized. In her letter, Coopersmith did not give specific dates on when these incidents allegedly occurred, but she said that she worked for Walk for a year in the early 2000s, starting when she was 27, while he was an executive at Sony Music’s Columbia Records. She also said that she reported the harassment at the time to a senior executive at the company, who allegedly told her that there was nothing she could do about it. She later accepted a payment to leave the company. Coopersmith has not worked in the music industry since 2010, and she says that Walk was one of the main reasons why she left the industry.

The second woman accusing Walk of harassment has chosen to remain anonymous, but she has been described in reports as a former Republic employee who is currently working in the music industry as a marketing executive. She also told similar stories of Walk making lewd comments to her, sending her sexually inappropriate texts and videos, and trying to lure her into having a sexual tryst with him. After she was laid off from the company, she tried to keep in touch with Walk because she considered him to be an powerful person who could still help her career, but she cut off contact with him after he continued to make sexual advances toward her. The anonymous accuser says she rejected Walk’s advances.

At Republic, Walk had been instrumental in shaping the music careers of DNCE, Hailee Steinfeld, Julia Michaels, The Weeknd, Lorde and Ariana Grande. He also led promotion partnerships for Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift), Cash Money Records (Drake, Nicki Minaj) and Island Records (Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas).

Before joining Republic, Walk was co-founder of the marketing company RJW Collective, later known as JWALK, from 2009 to 2014. He was previously president of Sony Music’s Epic Records from 2005 to  2009. At Epic, he worked with such artists as Shakira, Sean Kingston, The Fray and Sara Bareilles.. From 1990 to 2005, Walk was a marketing and promotion executive at Sony’s Columbia Records, where he helped shape the careers of artists such as Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, John Mayer, New Kids on the Block, the Fugees and John Legend.

February 8, 2018 UPDATE: “The Four” has been renewed for a second season, which will air in the summer of 2018 on dates to be announced , according to a press release issued by Fox. Evvie McKinney was the winner of the show’s first season. Fox has announced that for Season 2 of “The Four,” Combs, DJ Khaled and Trainor will continue their roles as judges, while Fergie will continue to host the show. It has not yet been announced who will replace Walk.

March 28, 2018 UPDATE: Republic Records has announced that it has reached a mutual agreement with Charlie Walk to leave the company, effective immediately. Republic said it would have no further comment on the matter. The announcement came one month after Rolling Stone published a report in which several other women came forward to tell stories about Walk harassing them while he was their boss or work colleague.

April 16, 2018 UPDATE: Fox has announced that the second season of “The Four” will premiere on June 7, 2018. Combs, DJ Khaled and Trainor are the show’s only judges for Season 2. Walk will not be replaced on the judges’ panel.

Bruce Weber and Mario Testino scandals: Famed photographers accused of sexually harassing men; Conde Nast overhauls policies for fashion shoots

January 13, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Bruce Weber
Bruce Weber (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for DuJour)

Several fashion publications have cut ties with photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino after the New York Times published stories from men (mostly male models) who accused Weber and Testino of sexual harassment, including unwanted groping and masturbation. Condé Nast (the company that publishes Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ) has announced that it will no longer work with Weber and Testino. Weber and Testino are denying the allegations. The news comes one month after the New York Post reported that Weber is being sued for sexual harassment by model Jason Boyce, who claims that Weber made unwanted sexual advances on him during a December 2014 photo shoot.

Weber (who is 71) and Testino (who is 63) both have famous international careers going back to the 1970s. Their work has been published in several books and all the top fashion magazines. While both photographers worked frequently with fashion brand Versace, Testino’s main client base consisted of European brands such as Gucci, Chanel and Burberry, and Weber’s biggest clients were mostly American brands such as  Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch. Weber’s most recent Vogue (U.S.) cover was the September 2017 issue with Jennifer Lawrence.  Testino’s most recent Vogue (U.S.) cover was the February 2018 issue with Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis. Fashion designer Michael Kors has also cut ties with Testino.

As a result of these and sweeping societal changes being made because of the MeToo movement, Condé Nast has revamped its policies for fashion shoots beyond the usual rules that forbid sexual harassment and other behavior that creates a hostile work environment. According to the New York Times,  Condé Nast will no longer hire models under 18, and will no longer serve alcohol on sets. Any nudity or sexually suggestive imagery must be approved by the modeling subject in advance. Photographers are no longer allowed to use Condé Nast sets for their personal projects after an assignment ends. And people involved in the assignment are encouraged to prevent a situation where two people are in alone in a room together. In addition, a hotline has been set up to report complaints anonymously.

Hearst Media (which publishes Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Esquire and other fashion magazines) also changed its policy for fashion shoots: Independent contractors are now required to reveal any past and present claims of harassment against them.

In late 2017, Condé Nast also severed its business relationship with photographer Terry Richardson, who has faced numerous accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment over the years. Almost all of his accusers are female models who worked with him. Richardson (whose work often includes graphic sexual imagery) has claimed that these encounters were consensual, and he has not been arrested or charged with any sex crimes.

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