By Evan Henerson
News has broken over the past 24 hours that writer Susan Braudy has accused actor Michael Douglas of pervasive sexual harassment during the years in the late 1980s and early ‘90s when Braudy ran the New York office of Douglas’s Stonebridge Productions.
Technically speaking, this “news” actually broke shortly after the first of the year when Douglas – warned that an article was coming – told his version of the events to "Deadline" in order to “get out in front” of the story.
As we speak, in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp maelstrom which is simultaneously empowering women and destroying careers, Douglas/Braudy situation is still in the “He said, she said” stage. Braudy’s allegations to the "Hollywood Reporter" appear to be backed up and well-documented. Douglas categorically denies much of what Braudy alleges including the accusation that he masturbated in front of her. He claims he neither fired his former assistant out of retaliation nor blackballed her within the industry. No charges have been filed. Time alone will tell whether there will be any repercussions against the actor, who is 73.
But since it’s Michael Douglas we’re talking about, there is most certainly some cinematic irony here.
It would be interesting to determine whether Braudy was in Douglas’s employ when the actor (still pretty hot off his work in 1987’s “Fatal Attraction” and “Wall Street”) shot the 1994 film “Disclosure.” In that film, Douglas plays Tom Sanders, a computer specialist whose new boss Meredith (played by Demi Moore) is a former lover. When she tries to renew her relationship, Sanders rejects her which leads to professional and personal repercussions. Sanders winds up suing Meredith, his female boss for sexual harassment.
There’s a lot of dialog about sexual harassment being about power, and how about this bit of insight from Sanders’ lawyer played by Roma Maffia:
“If you sue, you'll never get another job in the computer business; if you don't sue they'll bury you in Austin. If you sue, it's news; if you don't it's gossip. If you sue nobody will believe you; if you don't, your wife won't. They will make your life into a living hell for the next three years until this case goes to trial. And for that privilege, it's going to cost you a minimum of a hundred thousand dollars. Do you not think it's a game Mr. Sanders? It's a game to them. How do you feel about losing?”
Since “Disclosure” is a film based on a Michael Crichton novel, a certain amount of the sexual harassment plotline falls away as the movie morphs into a thriller.
Still it would be interesting if someone asked Douglas about this film now.