Pulitzer-winning author and screenwriter Michael Chabon has broken his silence on Scott Rudin, saying that he is “ashamed” for not speaking up about Rudin’s “abusive behavior” toward staffers after 20 years of working with the EGOT winner.
Though Chabon said he did not witness many of the stories that have been described in the recent Hollywood Reporter exposé and elsewhere, writing that he never saw Rudin use “vulgar or demeaning epithets” or cause physical injury. But he said he often witnessed Rudin’s outbursts and anger and acted as though nothing had happened. He acknowledges that it does not exonerate him for not speaking out, and that he “knew enough.”
“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 a blog post 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. I remember Kevin Graham-Caso – he was a sweetheart – and it was a gut-punch to learn, from his brother David’s recent video, about his suicide, following years of struggle with PTSD.”
TheWrap has reached out to a rep for Rudin for a request for comment.
Chabon had worked with Rudin dating back to the 2000 film adaptation of one of his novels “Wonder Boys.” He also collaborated with him on “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” and Rudin once held the rights to “Yiddish Policemen” and Chabon’s biggest work, “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” for which Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Rudin also optioned Chabon’s first screenplay as far back as 1994.
Chabon’s statement comes after an April 7 THR article in which former assistants and staffers accused Rudin of physical and mental abuse, including smashing a computer monitor on an assistant’s hand and throwing objects. Since then, Rudin has announced that he would be stepping back from his Broadway productions and film and streaming projects, which include the revival of “The Music Man” and five different A24 films.
Chabon says he at one point witnessed Rudin berate an employee and throw a pencil that struck the back of the staffer’s head, but that Rudin shortly after called Chabon into his office and behaved as though nothing had happened.
“I saw him throw the pencil, I’m certain, only because he didn’t know I was out there in the waiting area,” he wrote. “In my presence, Scott’s behavior was relatively controlled, his criticisms and castigations were offered in a tone that could pass for ‘bantering.’ Sometimes when he didn’t like what he was hearing – a party couldn’t be reached, a restaurant had closed early – his face would flush with anger and I could see him working hard to keep a lid on himself.”
Chabon said he also noticed the demeanor of Rudin’s LA offices change once the producer took up residence in New York toward the latter part of the ’90s.
“‘You seem good,’ I remember saying to one of his LA development guys in that era, resuming work with him after an interruption of several months,” Chabon wrote. “‘That’s because I’m here,’ he replied brightly, ‘and Scott isn’t.'”
Chabon added that even in the early days of working with Rudin, he took for granted his behavior and never used his influence to protect any of the young employees or ask Rudin to stop. He also addressed the video in which Rudin was accused of bullying a former assistant, Kevin Graham-Casio, who later took his own life.
“I didn’t do that. I didn’t do anything but carry on, as if. I’m not proud of that. Let me state it more honestly: I’m ashamed. 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. “lt’s not an excuse, or anything remotely like a justification, but I didn’t even break with Scott when, in 2010, he turned the fury, vitriol and vituperation against me, in a dispute over the terms of a deal, in a series of potent Rudin email bombs packed with nails, razor blades and personal insults.”
Chabon then says he finally stopped working with Rudin five years later, but he still regrets not doing more.
“It’s not enough to draw a line, however belatedly. You also have to point to it. You have to call people’s attention to it, and explain why it’s there, why you drew it. That’s another thing I did not have the courage or, to be completely honest, the inspiration or the vision, to do,” Chabon wrote. “I hope, but have no right to expect, that they’ll forgive me for my passivity and participation in the interlocking systems of dysfunction, bias and abuse that make, enable, reward and, worst of all, glorify the behavior for which, thanks to their courage, Scott Rudin is now being called to account.”
Read the whole post here.