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Assessing The #MeToo Movement After Weinstein Is Charged

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Harvey Weinstein did a perp walk yesterday. He was fingerprinted and formally booked by New York City police on charges of rape and criminal sex. It's been almost eight months since Weinstein went from movie mogul to #MeToo catalyst. Though the effect of that movement has rippled through every industry, including our own, it began in Hollywood. And this week, an esteemed actor, Morgan Freeman, faced allegations of sexual harassment. Kim Masters is the editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter and joins us from Los Angeles. Kim, thanks so much for being with us.

KIM MASTERS: My pleasure.

SIMON: You once confronted Harvey Weinstein, didn't you?

MASTERS: Yes. The first time I met him face to face, it was an off-the-record lunch at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. I was waiting for him at the table. He came in very belligerently and very agitated. I think I'd written something he didn't like. He started demanding to know why I wrote this terrible thing about him whatever it was and not - obviously not the most terrible thing. And then he said what have you heard about me? And I thought, OK, it's time to just do it. And I said I've heard you rape women. And I haven't specified his answer because it was an off the - I'm willing to say what I said, but I'm still a little uncomfortable saying what he said. But what I have said is I wouldn't say he denied it.

SIMON: Well, mercy. So how do you feel? How do you feel this week?

MASTERS: Well, I'm - it's a day many people thought they would never see. It's been a frustration, you know, for years for people like me. And I'm not the only one. You know, Ken Auletta from The New Yorker, other people have swung at this, and it was just impossible. I know there are certain people who like to fancy that we protect a Harvey-type person because they're so powerful, but we do not. And we would have been very happy, but for many years, we didn't - I mean, I'd heard names like Gwyneth Paltrow and Susanna Arquette (ph) but I hadn't heard - nobody who would come forward. I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow has addressed the fact that she faced a pretty stark choice of proceeding with her career or trying to take on this very powerful and wealthy individual who, as we have subsequently seen, would go to pretty much any lengths to silence those who would dare to speak out against him.

SIMON: Kim, just from what we were able to see on Friday, it's possible that the Weinstein defense team is going to - I believe the phrase is - his lawyer used was, well, he didn't invent the casting couch.

MASTERS: Yes, that's appalling (laughter).

SIMON: Well and...

MASTERS: I don't know how that's a defense (laughter). I really just don't understand that defense but...

SIMON: Well - so is that true? Is it still true? What's been the effect?

MASTERS: I have to think that while I have said that - in the aftermath of Harvey, we have had so many allegations. Even now today I'm working on another story involving not one but two alleged assaults, and it has not abated.

SIMON: Where do you put the allegations against Morgan Freeman, who, after all, is the voice of God for many people?

MASTERS: Yeah. I mean, people hate it when something like this happens with somebody that they think of in a certain way. But the bottom line is that behavior, which he has immediately apologized for and seems to have been extremely pervasive, that behavior is not fun. It is not flirting. The man in question who perpetrates it might tell himself it's fun, but it's not. It's designed to make people uncomfortable. It's an exercise of power. You know, this idea that you even have to touch someone to cross a line, it's just not true. I have been in situations where people can be - handle things verbally in a way that causes extreme discomfort. So I don't want to get sentimental about Morgan Freeman because I think he's done this, and he's acknowledged it, and it was not OK.

SIMON: Kim Masters, who's editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter and host of KCRW's "The Business," thanks so much for being with us.

MASTERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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