Update: As we were wrapping up this article, C.K. released a statement about the allegations. You can find the statement near the end of this piece.
It’s been a disturbing two days or so for fans of comedian Louis C.K. In the wake of many powerful men in Hollywood being publicly outed for sexual misconduct, things were not looking good for C.K. when the premiere of his new movie I Love You, Daddy was canceled yesterday along with an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. The news came just ahead of a massive New York Times article about sexual misconduct by the comedian. The allegations were disturbing:
As soon as they sat down in his room, still wrapped in their winter jackets and hats, Louis C.K. asked if he could take out his penis, the women said.They thought it was a joke and laughed it off. “And then he really did it,” Ms. Goodman said in an interview with The New York Times. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.
This was a thing that C.K. apparently thought was okay, because it happened more than once:
In 2003, Abby Schachner called Louis C.K. to invite him to one of her shows, and during the phone conversation, she said, she could hear him masturbating as they spoke. Another comedian, Rebecca Corry, said that while she was appearing with Louis C.K. on a television pilot in 2005, he asked if he could masturbate in front of her. She declined.
There have been allegations about C.K. whispered behind closed doors for years, but like most situations here, he had the power to control the narrative. C.K. is a powerhouse in the comedy world, and someone who was just starting out or not well known would have been intimidated by his stature. Much like the victims of outed sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, according to a memo by Lauren O’Connor published in the New York Times:
I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.
There is a power imbalance here that some people aren’t willing to admit. As more and more came forward about the accusations against Weinstein, more and more people started asking the victims why they didn’t say anything. Some even went as far as to say the victims were to blame for further victims for not speaking out. While not as extreme as the Weinstein situation, there is a power imbalance in the comedy world, as well. C.K. was very much in a position to take advantage of it.
Ms. Corry, a comedian, writer and actress, has long felt haunted by her run-in with Louis C.K. In 2005, she was working as a performer and producer on a television pilot — a big step in her career — when Louis C.K., a guest star, approached her as she was walking to the set. “He leaned close to my face and said, ‘Can I ask you something?’ I said, ‘Yes,’” Ms. Corry said in a written statement to The New York Times. “He asked if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me.” Stunned and angry, Ms. Corry said she declined, and pointed out that he had a daughter and a pregnant wife. “His face got red,” she recalled, “and he told me he had issues.”
When word of the incident with Ms. Corry got to executive producers Courteney Cox and David Arquette, they considered curtailing the show — but Ms. Corry decided to keep working there.
“Things were going well for me,” Ms. Corry said in the statement, “and I had no interest in being the person who shut down a production.”
There are other stories detailed in the report, and they’re all just as pitiful as the ones already described. This has lead to several repercussions for C.K. in the wake of this report. The first was that C.K. was pulled from HBO’s ‘A Night Of Too Many Stars’ special. C.K. also has had a great relationship with the channel FX for many years and they released a statement yesterday saying they were “troubled” by these allegations.
“We are obviously very troubled by the allegations about Louis C.K. published in The New York Times today,” the company said. “The network has received no allegations of misconduct by Louis C.K. related to any of our 5 shows produced together over the past 8 years. FX Networks and FXP take all necessary actions to protect our employees and thoroughly investigate any allegations of misconduct within our workplace. That said, the matter is currently under review.”
Today, repercussions for his alleged behavior came rolling in, and it hit C.K. in two ways.
First, The Orchard, which was distributing the film I Love You, Daddy has canceled the release despite paying a reported $5 million dollars for the release. In a statement posted on Deadline they said:
“The Orchard will not be moving forward with the release of I Love You, Daddy. Thank you”
The movie reportedly features a scene wherein a character pretends to masturbate in front of a crowd. People have always said that art often imitates life, but now C.K.’s apparent kink is on screen for all to see. It’s like watching a Woody Allen movie.
Next, Netflix has the second of the two stand-up specials that C.K. was supposed to be involved in. They announced the specials last February, but issued a statement today saying that they were canceling the second half deal.
“The allegations made by several women in The New York Times about Louis C.K.’s behavior are disturbing,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “Louis’s unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues has led us to decide not to produce a second stand up special, as had been planned.”
To make matters even more awkward for all involved, Deadline reporter Pete Hammond got a screener in the mail — and you’ll never guess which one it was.
The movie has been pulled from a theatrical release, but according to C.K.’s website is supposed to be sold there. As for whether or not that actually happens is still up in the air. Those critics who get screeners in the mail and those who saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival could very well be the only ones to see this movie for a long time.
As the day continued to roll on, and just as were getting ready to publish this article, C.K. released a statement confirming that all of the allegations made against him were true:
I want to address the story told to the New York Times by five women named Abbey, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt to name themselves and one who did not. These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person , asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.
C.K went on to about realizing the extent of the damage he had done and how he has spent years running from the allegations:
I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.
There is nothing about this that I can forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.
C.K. goes on say that he “is remorseful” to the women he hurt and the people around him that are going to be caught in the fallout including the staff of his shows, FX, The Orchard, and his manager. He also goes on to talk about the pain he is bringing his family, children, and friends. However, the words “I’m sorry” are lacking from the statement — two words that can mean a lot. But in the day of statements that fail to take responsibility for past actions, this is better than a denial.
C.K. closes out the statement by saying:
I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.
Here is the full statement as provided to NBC News:
BREAKING: Louis C.K. releases statement: "These stories are true." pic.twitter.com/qGYXmd3DyR
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 10, 2017