The following article includes allegations of abusive behavior in the workplace, as well as discussions of a death by suicide.
Scott Rudin is a name that most people have heard famous actors mention in their awards show acceptance speeches or have seen in a film’s credits under the title of producer — but there’s also some darkness that seems to have transpired where this Hollywood honcho is involved.
According to NPR, Rudin got his start in the business at the age of 15 while “working in producers’ offices on Broadway,” as he “had never had a fantasy of doing anything else or being anything else.” From there, he eventually started his own production company, which has produced dozens of successful musicals and plays on the Great White Way. Rudin is a producing heavyweight in the world of film, as well, as he has worked on awards season favorites like “The Hours,” “Moneyball,” and “No Country For Old Men.”
In April 2021, however, a number of Rudin’s ex-staff came forward in two major exposés published by Vulture and The Hollywood Reporter — both of which detailed a very long list of accounts of alleged verbal, emotional, and even physical abuse experienced during the former employees’ time working for the producer. One former employee, for example, claimed (via THR), “Everyone just knows he’s an absolute monster.” Keep scrolling the learn more about the alleged shady side of Scott Rudin.
Scott Rudin's ex-staff have spoken out about his alleged abusive behavior
There’s something to be said about the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. What goes on inside offices or behind closed doors, where it’s worked out which big movie star will sign onto which upcoming project? Unfortunately, producer Scott Rudin reportedly had a certain way of running his office and handling staff that did not help to create the kind of movie magic we all dream about.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the producer behind “The Social Network” and countless Broadway successes allegedly has a “volcanic temper” that has “left many traumatized” after working in his office or as his assistant over the years. One particular account, for example, alleged that, after an assistant couldn’t get Rudin onto a flight that had sold out, “In a fit of fury, he allegedly smashed an Apple computer monitor on the assistant’s hand. The screen shattered, leaving the young man bleeding and in need of immediate medical attention.” Another ex-staffer claimed that she once witnessed Rudin “[throwing] a laptop at the window in the conference room … Then another time he threw a glass bowl at [a colleague].” Following the latter alleged incident, she said, “The HR person left in an ambulance due to a panic attack. That was the environment.”
After these abuse allegations were made public, Rudin issued an apology and announced that he would be “stepping back” from his film and Broadway projects “to work on personal issues” (via The Washington Post).
He had some unkind things to say about Angelina Jolie
Behind the scenes of movie-making is undoubtedly quite a long and complicated process, especially for the producers. But we all learned back in kindergarten that there’s no reason to call people names, right? However, back in 2014, Defamer shared a series of leaked emails that allegedly went back and forth between producer Scott Rudin and then-Sony Pictures co-chairperson Amy Pascal. Where does veteran actor Angelina Jolie fit into this? Allow us to explain.
It turns out that there was a lot of chatter about what would eventually become 2015’s “Steve Jobs,” featuring Michael Fassbender in the title role, as Rudin was looking to reconnect the award-winning duo behind “The Social Network,” screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher, for the film. However, a supposedly “upset” Jolie was looking to Fincher to direct a “Cleopatra” remake within the same time frame — and apparently, Rudin wasn’t happy about this turn of events. During a particularly heated part of the email exchange between Rudin and Pascal, he reportedly referred to Jolie as having a “rampaging spoiled ego,” as well as being a “spoiled brat.” Rudin also appeared to call the acclaimed movie star “minimally talented,” writing that he had “no desire to be making a movie with her.” Ouch.
According to Pascal, who later spoke to Harper’s Bazaar, “Angie didn’t care.” She added, “Everybody understood because we all live in this weird thing called Hollywood. If we all actually were nice, it wouldn’t work.” Sure.
Rita Wilson claimed that Scott Rudin tried to fire her after her cancer diagnosis
Just like any other profession, personal or health crises sometimes arise for actors while they’re working — but unfortunately, not everyone in show business has been known to deal with these situations in the most sensitive and empathetic of ways.
In an interview with the The New York Times, longtime actor Rita Wilson shed some light on what she experienced while collaborating with Scott Rudin on the 2015 production of Larry David’s play, “Fish in the Dark.” During this time, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As the outlet noted, Wilson claimed that the Broadway producer “complained that she would need time off during Tony voting season,” “asked to see her medical records,” and demanded that “her surgeon … call the insurance adjuster immediately.” According to Wilson, “I felt like he was trying to find a way to fire me legally. He is the kind of person who makes someone feel worthless, unvaluable and replaceable.”
In response, a spokesperson for Rudin claimed in a statement to the Times, “Mr. Rudin’s recollection was that Ms. Wilson had wanted to open the show and then leave, but that he and the director had not wanted her to delay treatment.”
Why Broadway star Sutton Foster has no interest in working with Scott Rudin
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced that seasoned Broadway veterans Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman would be partnering up with Scott Rudin Productions for a revival of “The Music Man.” While the show set a new post-Broadway shutdown opening night date in February 2022 (via Broadway World), producer Scott Rudin announced that he would be “stepping back” from his stage and film work amid the allegations made against him in April 2021.
Just one day following Rudin’s departure from the show, Foster took to Instagram Live to set a few things straight (via The Hollywood Reporter). “I feel like the only positive outcome is the one that happened,” she said, referring to Rudin leaving the production. “I am so honored to be a part of ‘The Music Man’ and I can’t wait to create an incredible, safe, inclusive, loving environment for everyone involved, and that is all I care about moving forward.”
According to a source cited by THR, co-star Jackman, who also spoke out against Rudin, was reportedly “very concerned” about the claims against the producer. Meanwhile, Foster had previously allegedly threatened to “leave the highly anticipated musical if Rudin didn’t take a seat.”
A former assistant of Scott Rudin's died by suicide
In October 2020, a former assistant of producer Scott Rudin named Kevin Graham-Caso tragically died by suicide. According to Variety, this led to “his friends pour[ing] over his old emails, looking for answers.” One email dated back to 2009, while Graham-Caso was still briefly under Rudin’s employment. Noting that Rudin had found out that his assistant was looking for another job, Graham-Caso wrote, “He flipped out. [Rudin] told me to lose his number and that I was dead to him and an enemy of his company and that he hopes I fail in life.” Variety reports that Graham-Caso wrote in an email, “I think the time at Rudin permanently f**ked my nerves. I never used to get this worked up over stuff.”
In April 2021, the former assistant’s twin brother, David Graham-Caso, shared a chilling video on Twitter that he directed at Rudin. Calling Rudin a “bully,” David wanted the producer to be held “accountable” for his alleged actions, noting that “the abuse you inflict has consequences.” David further alleged, “You abused [Kevin] severely. You berated and demeaned, bullied and intimidated and harassed him for eight solid months. It was so intense that he developed anxiety and depression and post-traumatic stress, and like many survivors of traumatic abuse, he soon found himself in another abusive relationship later on in his life. It was so intense that last October, he took his own life.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The amount of assistants Scott Rudin's gone through is shocking
If there’s one Hollywood cliché that most people have heard about in relation to the movie industry, it’s how assistants can be treated in the daily grind and what that really looks like under a microscope.
Back in 2005, The Wall Street Journal published an article called “Boss-Zilla!” which defined movie producer Scott Rudin as quite possibly “the most feared boss in Hollywood.” Upon speaking to some of Rudin’s former assistants, the outlet gauged that the infamous producer had gone through “250 or more” assistants in the previous five years — but Rudin himself explained, per the outlet, that “his insurance records show he has had 119 assistants over that period.” However, he noted that “those records don’t include assistants who were fired during a two-week trial period.” Okay, but… that’s still a lot of assistants, Scott.
Unfortunately, the company’s work environment reportedly wasn’t very conducive to staff sticking around for long periods of time. If you were to take a quick look at some of the employee reviews of Scott Rudin Productions on Indeed, you would find a fair number of one-star reviews — one of which claimed that “management is demeaning and constantly yelling at staff.” Another person alleged that they were “baffled at the fact that there has not been a lawsuit against Scott Rudin for his abusive (both physically and emotionally) behavior.”
The movie Swimming With Sharks is said to have been inspired by Scott Rudin
Robert Ebert’s review of 1994’s “Swimming With Sharks” describes the movie as such: “Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey) is vice president of production for a big studio. Guy (Frank Whaley) is his new personal assistant. Guy’s job is basically to take all of Buddy’s crap and serve him as a servile sycophant, 24 hours a day … Depending on who you talk to, these kinds of relationships are called networking, or sadomasochism.” Reader, if this sounds kind of familiar to you at this point, you’re not alone.
According to Vanity Fair, there has been speculation for years about Scott Rudin being the leading inspiration behind the character of film producer Buddy Ackerman. The movie’s writer-director, George Huang, who had worked as an assistant in Hollywood himself, had some things to share with the publication. “Look, anybody who’s an assistant in Hollywood, the only way we survived was to get together and trade war stories, and you try to outdo each other,” he said. “Consistently, my friends who worked for Scott Rudin would always win. Some of the stories they told were almost too absurd to be true. If I put it in the movie, no one would’ve believed it.”
Admitting that the film’s producers sometimes didn’t think some of the “way over the top” stories allegedly inspired by Rudin’s actions actually happened, Huang noted, “Just from gathering stories from friends who’ve worked for Scott, his influence is definitely in the film.”
He made racially insensitive comments about former President Obama
It turns out when you’re a big-time movie producer like Scott Rudin, not even your personal emails are safe — as over the years, there seems to be an increased chance of them getting hacked.
According to Deadline, a leaked email conversation between Rudin and then-Sony Pictures chairperson Amy Pascal came to light and some racially insensitive comments were found. The outlet reports that “in a lame attempt at humor, they speculated what films President Barack Obama might like, as they discussed an Obama fundraiser held by Jeffrey Katzenberg in 2013. All of the offerings they came up with were black-themed films.” Rudin also pondered if Obama would be a fan of comedian Kevin Hart (via Business Insider).
After the hacked emails came to light, Rudin released an apology to Deadline for the comments he made: “I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive — and not funny at all. To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused.”
Scott Rudin reportedly feuded with a movie critic
Something that comes along with producing films or Broadway shows and having them out in the world is that they inevitably will get reviewed by critics and publications — and sometimes, those reviews won’t be favorable. While it all seems to be par for the course, some creators might have a harder time accepting the opinions of others.
According to Indiewire, producer Scott Rudin was none-too-happy with then-New Yorker film critic, David Denby, after he reportedly broke a review embargo for the 2011 movie, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” which Rudin produced and David Fincher directed. Denby released his review prior to the December 13, 2011 embargo, and even though it was a positive review — some of the films that Rudin’s produced haven’t fared too well among the critic in the past, including “Margot at the Wedding” — Rudin reportedly claimed in a leaked email that it was a “very, very damaging move” in terms of what it meant for the life of his film before it was even released for public consumption.
In the email exchange that Indiewire acquired, Rudin seemingly went on to tell Denby that “the fact that the review is good is immaterial” and that he “could not in good conscience invite [him] to see another movie of mine again.”
Inside Scott Rudin's relationship with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein
Before former movie heavyweight Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexual assault, he had many interactions with fellow film producer Scott Rudin. But did they always get along? According to a 2002 piece by New York magazine, even though both Rudin and Weinstein have accused one another of being “demanding, cunning, grandiose, ruthless … [and] competitive” over the years, fellow producer Dan Lupovitz described their relationship as something akin to a “Japanese horror movie,” saying, “It’s fun to watch these two behemoths battle to the death.”
At the time, the outlet was reporting on an ever-growing feud between Rudin and Weinstein, which really hit its peak when the two collaborated on “The Hours,” starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep. The producers reportedly argued back-and-forth about whether or not the movie was actually “finished.” When Weinstein allegedly “went ballistic over Kidman’s large prosthetic nose” in the flick, Rudin supposedly “hired security guards” and “banned Miramax” (Weinstein’s production company) from coming on set.
Weinstein reportedly later “refused to send the movie to [the] Venice [Film Festival],” leading Rudin to call him up say, “You and I are done. You skunked me. It’s despicable that you pulled this stunt and damaged my movie in front of [the] press. I don’t think I could ever trust you again.” Rudin also allegedly shipped Weinstein “a crate of cigarettes,” per the magazine, alongside a note that read, “Thanks as always for your help.”
Scott Rudin's alleged behavior caused a Broadway star to quit her job
Scott Rudin has been producing popular Broadway musicals and plays in New York City for years — his productions have even taken home 17 Tony Awards, per The Guardian.
Tony Award-winner Karen Olivo, who won in the best actress category in 2009 for her performance in “West Side Story,” took to Instagram in April 2021 to share that she would not be returning to her celebrated role of Satine in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” on Broadway once it reopened that September. She explained that this was in protest of the theater industry’s inaction regarding the producer’s abuse allegations.
“I could easily go back to a show and make a lot of money, but I still wouldn’t be able to really control what I was putting out into the world,” she began. “And what I’m seeing in this space right now, with our industry, is that everybody is scared, and nobody is really doing a lot of the stuff that needs to be done. People aren’t speaking out.” Olivo went on to clarify, “The silence about Scott Rudin — unacceptable … That one’s easy, y’all. That’s a monster. That should be a no-brainer.”
Noting that “this is an important time” to step up and “use our power in [these] situations,” Olivo — who took up teaching musical theater during the Broadway shutdown — continued, “Social justice is actually more important than being the sparkling diamond. Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets.”
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