Writer/Director James Toback has been accused of sexual harassment by almost 40 women. Toback has been writing and directing movies since the '70s. The first film he wrote was The Gambler - which was released in 1974 - starring James Caan, Paul Sorvino, and Lauren Hutton. He made his directorial debut with his next screenplay, Fingers, four years later. He wrote and directed three more films in the '80s, Love & Money, The Exposed, and The Pick-Up Artist, also appearing in the latter two as an actor. It was in the early '90s that he made his biggest film to date, Bugsy.
Based on the true story of Bugsy Siegel, Bugsy starred Warren Beatty, Anne Bening, Harvey Keitel, Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley, and Elliot Gould. Toback wrote the film and appeared as Gus Greenbaum, though Barry Levinson directed. The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards - including a Best Screenplay nod to Toback as well as Best Picture - and won for both Art Direction and Costumes. The movie also won the Best Picture Golden Globe. Following Bugsy, Toback wrote and directed seven more films.
Now, 38 women have come forward and made some increasingly familiar claims of sexual harassment against Toback. They spoke to The Los Angeles Times, with 31 of the women going on the record.
The women were all very young, some as young as 18 or 19 when the incidents happened. They say that Toback would brag about his film credits and offer to help them with their own acting and writing careers. Once he got them alone - though sometimes alone was as public as a park bench - he would ask them incredibly personal questions and touch them inappropriately.
Nor is this the first time that Toback has been called out for sexual harassment. Back in 1989 an article in Spy Magazine described Toback's behavior towards women. The behavior described in the article matches the stories from the women coming forward today. The women largely admit that they did not report him in the past either to protect their careers or out of fear of Toback, some of the women allege that he threatened them by telling outlandish and frightening stories, such as how he once murdered someone with a pencil.
It was the news of the Harvey Weinstein scandal that encouraged these women to come forward. Many of them relived their own experiences. After seeing Weinstein lose his company as well as being removed from The Academy, perhaps the women felt as though they would finally be believed. And Toback isn't the only name to follow Weinstein, brother Bob Weinstein was also accused, and talent agent Tyler Grasham was fired after accusations of pedophilia. At this point, its hard to imagine just how deep this culture of sexual abuse goes in Hollywood. Or how many more names will come to light in the near future.
Source: Los Angeles Times