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Scott Rudin, the Oscar- and Tony-winning producer whose credits include The Social Network, The Book of Mormon, and Aaron Sorkin's To Kill a Mockingbird, will "step back" from his Broadway productions amid allegations of abusive behavior, Rudin announced Saturday.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Rudin added that he is "taking steps that I should have taken years ago to address this behavior." This announcement comes in the wake of a story published April 7 in The Hollywood Reporter, detailing numerous allegations from Rudin's former staffers of mistreatment spanning decades. They described alleged incidents in which the producer smashed a computer monitor on an assistant's hand, sending him to the emergency room; throwing a stapler and other items at employees; and lying to disrupt former staffers' careers.
"He threw a laptop at the window in the conference room and then went into the kitchen and we could hear him beating on the napkin dispenser," one source told THR. "Then another time he threw a glass bowl at [a colleague]. It's hard to say if he threw it in the general direction or specifically at [the colleague], but the glass bowl hit the wall and smashed everywhere. The HR person left in an ambulance due to a panic attack. That was the environment."
These allegations, and the tone in which they were presented, represent the cultural shift currently underway in the entertainment industry. Rudin's fits of rage and treatment of employees have been reported on for decades; a 1998 story in Fortune magazine described him as "notoriously unpleasant" and "famous for his habit of throwing phones, verbally abusing staffers, and expecting 16-hour workdays and seven-day workweeks." A 2010 THR profile of Rudin ran under the headline "The Most Feared Man in Town."
Despite this, Rudin has remained one of the most powerful figures in the Broadway community and one of the most prestigious producers in Hollywood. He has several stage projects currently in the works, including the upcoming revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. His recent film credits include acclaimed hits like Uncut Gems and Lady Bird. The Post also reported that Rudin was instrumental in securing financial aid for New York's art venues from Washington.
Few prominent figures in the entertainment business have spoken publicly about Rudin since THR's story was published. On Wednesday, Tony-winning actress Karen Olivo announced that she would not return to Broadway's production of Moulin Rouge! (in which Rudin is not involved), because the industry's "silence" about Rudin was "unacceptable."
"Building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets," Olivo said in an emotional Instagram video. "[Rudin]'s a monster. That should be a no-brainer."
Producer Megan Ellison of Annapurna also criticized Rudin on Twitter, writing, "This piece barely scratches the surface of Scott Rudin's abusive, racist, and sexist behavior. Similarly to Harvey [Weinstein], too many are afraid to speak out. I support and applaud those who did. There's good reason to be afraid because he's vindictive and has no qualms about lying."
In Rudin's statement to the Post, his first public comment since the April 7 story was published, the producer wrote, "Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly."
"After a period of reflection, I've made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately," he continued. "My roles will be filled by others from the Broadway community and in a number of cases, from the roster of participants already in place on those shows."
"My passionate hope and expectation is that Broadway will reopen successfully very soon, and that the many talented artists associated with it will once again begin to thrive and share their artistry with the world. I do not want any controversy associated with me to interrupt Broadway's well deserved return, or specifically, the return of the 1500 people working on these shows."
Rudin did not elaborate further on what stepping down from "active participation" will look like. Representatives for the producer did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Shortly after Rudin released his statement, the stage performers' labor union Actors' Equity Association addressed the allegations and called on the producer to release his staffers from NDAs.
"Since news reports emerged about Scott Rudin, we have had many private conversations with our sibling unions and the Broadway League," Equity president Kate Shindle and executive director Mary McColl said in a statement. "We have heard from hundreds of members that these allegations are inexcusable, and everyone deserves a safe workplace whether they are a union member or not."
"We salute the courage of those who came forward. We hope that Scott Rudin will also release his staff from any nondisclosure agreements they may have signed as a condition of employment," they continued. "This is an important step in creating truly safe and harassment-free theatrical workplaces on Broadway and beyond. It is not the end of our work to ensure a workplace safe for everyone in the industry as we work toward reopening."