The timing could not have been worse. It was 2017. The sixth season of House of Cards was being filmed. Harvey Weinstein’s conduct made powerful Hollywood men a primary target of the MeToo movement. And Kevin Spacey was the host of the Oscars. It was more than Anthony Rapp could take, and so out it came.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Rapp is publicly alleging for the first time that in 1986, Spacey befriended Rapp while they both performed on Broadway shows, invited Rapp over to his apartment for a party, and, at the end of the night, picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance. According to public records, Spacey was 26. Rapp was 14.
Spacey’s people said he had no memory of Rapp, but if it happened, he apologized. Whereupon Spacey was immediately canceled, fired from his show, tarred as a pariah in perpetuity and sentenced to…
An arbitrator ruled last year that Kevin Spacey and his production companies owe MRC, the studio behind the Netflix series “House of Cards,” nearly $31 million for breach of contract following numerous sexual harassment allegations against the actor.
The arb’s award was rendered 13 months ago, but just became public as MRC sought enforcement.
In the arbitration, MRC argued that Mr. Spacey’s behavior caused the studio to lose millions of dollars because it had already spent time and money in developing, writing and shooting the final season. It also said it brought in less revenue because the season had to be shortened to eight episodes from the 13 because Mr. Spacey’s character was written out.
Whether Spacey did what Rapp accused him of doing is unknown, as there was no prosecution since Rapp didn’t raise his accusations for 36 years. And after Spacey was tainted, other allegations arose as they almost always do, the details of which are obscure and untested.
Whether $31 million is an appropriate loss amount is one issue, but without the details to support the claim, it’s hard to question. What is less difficult to question is whether Spacey breached the contract with MRC. Even worse, did MRC breach its contract with Spacey?
Was the confluence of events that resulted in Spacey’s ouster something he did or something done to him? The Rapp accusations were horrific, but unproven and likely unprovable. They were ancient, which may well be understandable, but that doesn’t make them any more truthful. Whatever happened, or didn’t happen, it was well before Spacey’s involvement in House of Cards. It’s not that Spacey did anything to Rapp during his tenure on the hit series, but that the allegations became public. Is that a breach of contract by Spacey?
With regard to the additional allegations, there is even less clarity.
The theater then engaged a law firm to conduct the investigation. The 20 allegations made relate to a range of inappropriate behavior from 1995 to 2013, none of which involved minors.
Thursday’s report said that in addition to Mr. Spacey’s stardom, factors that may have contributed to the problem included a lack of clarity about the Old Vic’s accepted code of behavior, confusion regarding the impact of reporting misconduct, and career insecurity.
The report emphasized that the Old Vic was not able to independently verify the allegations, nor did Mr. Spacey take part in the investigation.
Of course, Spacey had already been thrown off House of Cards, so whether these allegations, whatever they may have been, were accurate or significant has nothing to do with the damages MRC claimed to suffer.
But what is clear is that Spacey didn’t walk away from House of Cards on his own volition, but was fired as a result of an unproven ancient allegations in the throes of MeToo hysteria fed by the Weinstein revelations of powerful men in Hollywood engaging in sexual misconduct. Not only did Spacey’s star fall from the sky, but now he’s on the hook for MRC’s decision to fire him for fear of MeToo backlash, putting Kevin Spacey in the awkward position of both being canceled and having to pay for the damages as a consequence of MRC’s decision.
Is this Spacey’s fault? Did he breach the contract by something that he’s accused of doing in 1984, Assuming the contract contains the usual “morals” clause, should it be applied in retrospect, even if its terms provide otherwise, because MeToo made Spacey’s continued performance in the role untenable?
Update: For those mired in the details of the Spacey matter and unable to raise their sights to the broader concerns (hereinafter referred to as “the intellectually puny”), here’s the complaint filed to confirm the arbitration award. If this matters, then you likely belong on reddit rather than here.
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.