Bleats

The Hollywood Reporter's Profile On Jeffrey Tambor Glosses Over The Real Issues While Attempting to Portray The Actor As The Victim Of An On-Set Coup

Jeffrey Tambor says his firing from Transparent was part of a larger scandal orchestrated by those who objected to a cisgender man playing a transgender woman.

There are plenty of comments to be made about The Hollywood Reporter’s most recent interview with Jeffrey Tambor.

None of them necessarily positive.

From the author going out of his way to mention that Tambor is the first accused member of the #metoo movement in Hollywood to actively speak out about the claims (like he somehow deserves a medal for summoning the courage), to the three-worded “Lines Got Blurred” headline quote, it was clear early on that this profile was always going to be in favour of Tambor no matter how careful the publication was in attempting to remain non-biased.

It’s not a short read. It is however a passive profile that doesn’t take pause to ask Tambor the tough questions.

It doesn’t force the actor to confront or consider responsibility for the situation he’s found himself in, instead it allows Tambor (who is sympathetically referred to as a “veteran” actor) to seek the reader’s sympathy by going as far as mentioning the tears Tambor sheds throughout the interview (amongst other things).

The author spends time describing the actor’s shaking hands and makes note of Tambor’s post-Transparent “fugue state”, which has led him to reading books on the subject of death and mourning as a way of bidding farewell to the character he was fired from playing.

With an opening paragraph that documents Tambor’s alleged sexual misconduct claims as something that “will surely go down as the darkest chapter of his four-decade career”, it’s clear we’re meant to feel empathy for a man struggling to come to terms with a recent series of unfortunate events…

Throughout the profile, Tambor says outright that he doesn’t want to delve into the two 10-hour inquiry sessions he had with Neftlix in light of the allegations, “… I responded to the questions. And that’s pretty much what I want to say about that”.

The author of the article doesn’t poke or prod, but allows the narrative of the piece to move onto the next topic of conversation: Tambor’s suggestion that the circumstances around his firing could be part of a larger conspiracy.

This shift in perspective acts as a distraction, pulling readers away from their focus on the actual sexual misconduct allegations as well as the victims’ experiences – instead providing Tambor with a platform to play the victim himself.

The article states:

“Faith Soloway, sister to showrunner Jill Soloway, allegedly emailed Tambor shortly after his firing alleging that the show was in a “coup.” The email, according to Tambor, read: “‘We are in a coup. You are f**king fantastic. You have changed the world. We have changed the world. We will get through this. Love, love, love, Faith.” An additional source confirmed the content of the email to THR. In addition, before he was fired, Jill Solloway wrote to Tambor in a text, “They have been after Maura [Tambor’s character] from the beginning.”

 

This portion of the profile then leans in to Tambor insinuating that not only was he in clear sights of those who wanted him out in the first place, but that his temper and on-set mood swings were caused by the stress of playing the transgender character of Maura.

“I drove myself and my castmates crazy,” he says. “Lines got blurred. I was difficult. I was mean. I yelled at Jill — she told me recently she was afraid of me. I yelled at the wonderful [executive producer] Bridget Bedard in front of everybody. I made her cry. And I apologized and everything, but still, I yelled at her. The assistant directors. I was rude to my assistant. I was moody. Sometimes I didn’t talk at all.

And this is where the reader says, ‘So what?’ You know? ‘You’re coming in from the Palisades, you drive in, you get a good paycheck, you get to play one of the best roles in the world. So. What.’” He stares down at his barely touched lunch, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich propping up a pile of french fries. “But I was scared, because I was a cisgender male playing Maura Pfefferman. And my whole thing was, ‘Am I doing it right? Am I doing it right? Am I doing it right?’ To the point that I worried myself to death.”

 

That the author of the articles presumes to know what the reader is thinking  isn’t just patronising, it’s also his way of telling us why we should care about Tambor and his mood swings.

But wait, there’s more.

While the overly sympathetic article makes a point of talking about all the time Tambor spends with his wife and young children (this is peppered throughout the piece but acts as a scene-setting tactic especially in the first paragraph and in the very last), it does nothing for Trace Lysette or Van Barnes (Tambor’s accusers) besides reducing their lives prior to Transparent to a mere few sentences that are aimed at painting a particular picture…

The (male) author sets the scene for Lysette by focusing on her looks, simultaneously objectifying her while focusing on her past as a stripper who once attempted suicide.

“A striking brunette with fair skin and aquamarine eyes, Lysette, who prefers not to disclose her age, grew up in Dayton, Ohio — she was the only male on her high school cheerleading team — then moved to New York City, where she began transitioning to female. She later found work at a Manhattan strip club, where she never let on to the clientele that she was transgender. After a bad breakup led to a suicide attempt — she slit her wrists on a side street walking home from the strip club one night — Lysette was admitted to Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric ward.”

 

Barnes doesn’t fare much better either as she’s described as having a reputation for “a raunchy sense of humor”, which somehow means she’s deserving of whatever sexual advances come her way, right?

““… she’s the dirtiest f**king talker in the world,” is how one staffer puts it — Tambor’s alleged offensive talk and occasional “butt pats” made Barnes increasingly uncomfortable.”

Lysette mentions the fact that she told multiple people of Tambor’s alleged assault, both on and off the show, yet nothing was done about it.

This is glossed over in favour of discussing the ways in which Solloway and Tambor had planned to make the fifth season of the show come together in light of all the on-set and off-set drama.

“Soloway suggested that, going forward, Tambor appear in the series only in flashback, as Mort Pfefferman, Maura’s pre-transition self. It was a not ideal but potentially workable concession to those who felt Tambor’s performance was an offensive example of “transface,” as some critics referred to it.”

At the end of the day, this entire article and the handling of the Tambor situation in general has been a great example of how not to approach accusations of sexual misconduct.

But is anyone really surprised? Are we shocked at the real lack of consequences?

After all, everything has worked out in Tambor’s favour.

He has a number of former cast-mates happy to defend him publicly and the debut of Season 5 of Arrested Development is just around the corner…

Sounds about right.

Seth Rogen Shouldn't Get Away With Using A Get Out Of Jail Free Card When Talking About James Franco And #MeToo

Welcome to the very first Learn With Rogen Masterclass: How to get away with answering weighty questions without incriminating oneself.

He found a safe space to hide in, and now he’s never coming out.

During a recent interview with Vulture, Seth Rogen spoke at length about everything from his teenage sense of humour, to the alleged North Korean Sony hack – but it was his answers to questions about the #metoo movement and James Franco that proved most interesting.

It comes as no surprise that Rogen and Franco are the closest of pals.

The two have worked together since 1999 when they both appeared in Freaks and Geeks as best friends and high school misfits.

Since then, they’ve starred in more than five movies together including Pineapple Express, The Interview and This Is The End.

Oh, and that really disturbing (yet legitimately funny) Kanye “Bound 2” video parody.

When Vulture journalist, David Marchese, probed Rogen about the recent allegations against Franco (he wore a Time’s Up pin to the Golden Globes before being accused of sexual misconduct by five women and then later skipped the Oscars after all the backlash), Rogen played the safe card.

He cleverly turned the Franco question around to make it about his own role (or lack thereof) in the #metoo movement.

“The truth is that my perspective on this is the least relevant perspective. I’m friends with these people and I’m a dude. All that combined makes me the last person who should be talking about this.”

 

Hmm… let’s break this down for a second.

“The truth is that my perspective on this is the least relevant perspective.”

Not true. Rogen’s perspective is actually pretty important because he has known Franco personally and professionally for nearly 20 years.

In this instance, Rogen as a writer, producer, and actor within the Hollywood community, has the opportunity to put an end to the unspoken bro-code that sees men accepting the inappropriate behaviour of their male peers because you know, that’s just what you do for a mate.

“I’m friends with these people and I’m a dude. All that combined makes me the last person who should be talking about this.”

Again, being a guy with a bit of clout in the industry means Rogen can use what influence he has to try and facilitate change from within and set a new precedent when it comes to toxic bro circles.

Why is all the work and responsibility to sort things out always placed on women? We should be working together, because this isn’t just a women’s problem that should be given to women to fix.

We need men and women with the guts to stand up for what’s right to understand the movement and work on ensuring these incidents never happen again.

Just because Rogen is friends with Franco doesn’t mean his opinion is invalid (regardless of what side of the fence he’s sitting on) – that’s just Rogen trying to squirm his way out of answering the question truthfully, because I think deep down he knows the truth, and he just doesn’t want to admit it.

It’s an unfortunate fact of the world that sometimes our friends cross a line, and yes, it really sucks, but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a good chance they’ve probably done some sh*tty things that they need to be called on.

Why do we continue to make excuses for our mates? Why don’t we accept they might not be the people we want them to be?

It’s OK to tell them to do better!

Rogen’s lacklustre response to Marchese’s questions is his way of essentially saying he’ll back his mates no matter what, so don’t bother asking about it because he’s not going to give you the answer you want. He’s going to give you the safe and sanitised answer.

It’s problematic when men like Rogen don’t decide to make a stand because they’d rather look out for a friend than do what’s right.

This places all the responsibility on victims to speak out. Victims who are already dealing with trauma, and are no doubt being ridiculed by faceless individuals all across the Internet who believe they’re doing it for attention.

Rogen had an opportunity to step up, and he didn’t.

When Marchese later asked Rogen whether he’d continue to work with Franco, he responded with one word, “yes”.

In a last-ditch attempt to get some kind of insightful statement regarding Rogen’s position on the matter, Rogen simply added, “There are so many people with real things to contribute to the #MeToo discussion that anything I say is not going to add anything useful.”

Well, being extremely good friends with someone who has been accused of sexual misconduct by five separate women feels like you might be in a position to have an actual opinion on the matter, Seth.

If you’re being asked to answer a question like this – why not put a bit of effort into crafting a response that does positively contribute to the #metoo discussion?

Rogen’s lacklustre response passes the buck onto the next person. He’s been thrown the hot potato and instead of taking time to let it cool in his hands, he’s thrown it up in the air and left it for someone else to catch.

Of course Rogen is entirely entitled to say and do whatever he wants when questioned by the media about these matters, but the intended outcome of his answers in this interview appear to be one that absolves him of any responsibility.

It’s also a quiet nod to all future journalists considering asking him about Franco down the line.

By ignoring the opportunity to contribute to an ongoing conversation around accountability, Rogen has done what he can to land in the safety of the middle.

His vague response only serves one person’s best interests, and that’s his own.

Can We Watch The Fifth Season Of Arrested Development Without Thinking About The Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Jeffrey Tambor?

In the era of #metoo and #timesup, there’s no excuse for glossing over harassment claims for the sake of a hit television series.

It was just three months ago that actor Jeffrey Tambor – best known for his role as George Sr. in Arrested Development was fired from the ground-breaking Amazon series, Transparent, due to claims of alleged sexual harassment on set.

Tambor made international headlines for his game-changing role as Maura Pfefferman in Transparent.

While Amazon conducted an internal investigation into his behaviour, the company never released the outcome publicly.

Instead, they announced Tambor would not be returning to the show.

This was a sentiment Tambor himself had already iterated last November when the claims against him were initially made.

“Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life. What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago. I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.”

 

After Tambor was officially cut from the show and Amazon had concluded their investigation, series creator Jill Soloway, expressed her admiration for the women who spoke out about Tambor’s behaviour.

“I have great respect and admiration for Van Barnes and Trace Lysette, whose courage in speaking out about their experience on Transparent is an example of the leadership this moment in our culture requires. We are grateful to the many trans people who have supported our vision for Transparent since its inception and remain heartbroken about the pain and mistrust their experience has generated in our community. We are taking definitive action to ensure our workplace respects the safety and dignity of every individual, and are taking steps to heal as a family.”

 

This statement was released on November 17 – the same month shooting for Season 5 of Arrested Development eventually wrapped (the show is set for release anytime between now and the coming few weeks).

Steve Holt! Uncle Mike!

Going off these dates, it seems Tambor was enlisted to reprise his role as George Sr. before the allegations against him on the set of Transparent went public.

So, does this mean Mitch Hurtwitz and the Arrested Development crew had no choice but to continue working with Tambor because the footage was almost entirely shot by this stage?

While there’s no word on Tambor’s role in the series, a number of his former co-stars have come out in recent months defending the actor.

This includes comedian David Cross, who told claimed many of their mutual co-workers were standing behind Tambor in light of recent events.

 

“I can’t speak for everybody, but I know there are a number of us who stand behind him – from the limited amount we know, we stand behind Jeffrey – and I am one of them.”

 

Cross went on to add that he found it “very curious that Amazon didn’t make public the results of their internal investigation”, adding, “I’m not sure why they would do that. I know the whole thing is rather curious to me.”

Jason Bateman has also weighed in on the situation, telling The Hollywood Reporter:

“I love Jeffrey. I always will. I can’t go further than that, but I will always love that man.”

Are Tambor’s male co-stars standing up for him because the success of Season 5 could be contingent on clearing his name and reputation? Is it all about showing a united front?

And if so, does this mean Tambor has a triumphant small screen return heading his way?

The only female co-star to share a different stance to her male counterparts is Alia Shawkat, who worked with Tambor on Transparent and Arrested Development.

“I was surprised, obviously. I’ve known him since I was very young. I support the voices of the victims though, whatever they said. It’s being handled the way it’s being handled. It’s very … strange … I worked with him on two shows, too, so it’s kind of following me around. I hope it’s all handled legally, the way it should be, and taken into consideration. What those victims said needs to be heard just as much.”

Arrested Development was initially cancelled by Fox in 2006, but resurrected by Netflix for a fourth season years later.

This season didn’t exactly tickle fans the way they’d hoped.

Conflicting schedules for each actor meant it was hard to get everyone together for shoots, which ultimately led to Mitch Hurtwitz filming character-specific episodes.

According to Hurtwitz’s recent Twitter post however, that’s all set to change thanks to some fancy editing skills.

While his announcement is exiting for fans of the series, it fails to address the important issues surrounding Tambor and his role on the show.

As a key character that is pivotal to the storyline, it’s only natural that we’d assume he’ll be in the entire season.

But if Hurtwitz and co. believe they can move forward without giving viewers some kind of statement or clarity around their choice to continue working with Tambor, they’ll be sorely mistaken.

We’ll be waiting with bated breath in the meantime…

 

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