“She Said”

“She Said”

Photo credit: Misc. Creative Commons

“When I first heard that She Said was coming out this fall, I went straight to Sena to tell her how much we wanted to do a screening. First, of course, for the very important story it tells and the incredible impact it has had on our culture – being a woman led film from the writer and director to the cast – but also because of how it would resonate with the news media crowd in this town. Since about 95% of this audience fits into that category, I guess I’ll let you be the judge. Having seen it and loved it myself, I hope you’ll agree the filmmakers do an incredible job dissecting and retelling the story of Megan Tuohey and Jodi Kantor’s investigation that literally has you on the edge of your seat. It’s riveting. I’ve also heard it referred to as journalist porn, but I’ll leave that for you to decide,” said Emily Lenzner, Executive Vice President for Global Communications and Public Affairs at the Motion Picture Association.

The screening was co-hosted by MPA, NBCUniversal and Comcast.  Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s Senior Vice President, Government Communications, weighed in.

“One night, as they shared a cab back to Brooklyn, two reporters wondered ‘would anyone even care about what we were doing?’ As soon as the story hit the internet on a Thursday night in early October 2017, it felt like the entire world cared. The reporters in the back of that taxi were Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, and their front-page story would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for public service and help propel the #MeToo movement started by Tarana Burke in 2006. A wave of reporting followed, and today the subject of those stories sits in jail as a convicted sex offender. Journalism matters. It changes lives. Changes institutions. Changes culture. We are proud to bring this film chronicling the dogged determination of these reporters as they balanced their personal lives with the difficulty of the story they were pursuing.”

Carey Mulligan as Megan Twohey and Zoe Kazan as Jodi Kantor

She Said will take you behind the scenes from the office junk food binges familiar to all reporters to the postpartum depression felt by many new mothers.The writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz and director Maria Schrader bring this story to the screen.”

“Making a film like She Said takes hundreds of workers – over 600 crew members and 1400 extras in this case. While over 100 sets were constructed around New York City, the film was the first of its scale to be filmed in the New York Times headquarters – made possible ironically by the pandemic when most of the newsroom was empty. Director Maria Schrader said,  ‘This story is about women standing up, speaking out, and claiming their power and it felt right to have women lead the effort in bringing it to the screen.'”

“From brave women who told their story to these reporters, to the screenwriter, director and executives who made the movie, women have led this effort together. As Jodi Kantor said, ‘The story answers the perennially difficult question of how you confront a bully – you do it together.’  And that ‘if a single truth teller gains the confidence to call a journalist because of this film, that would be the best possible reward, the cycle beginning anew.’”

Two of Harvey Weinstein’s victims were cast in the film.  Here is what they told Hollywood on the Potomac.

 Katherine Kendall plays a Miramax Executive.

Katherine Kendall

She Said:

“Every single thought was going through my head at the same time. I was stunned and I was terrified. It should have been a safe meeting, right? Like you have a great agent and they’re setting you up with somebody who’s a real producer. It’s not just someone posing, you know. It all seemed so legit and it was going so well. We were talking all day and he gave me three scripts. I thought it was a turning point moment and then he came out of the bathroom naked. It was terrible. It was awful and he’s much older than me. It doesn’t sound that big of a deal now, but at the time I was 23. I was a young adult living on my own in New York, but he was like a real grownup and I just didn’t see it coming.”

“He was standing in front of me naked and then it sort of escalated quickly. He kept trying to ask me to take my shirt off and kept trying to touch me and if I went that way, he went that way. There were no tricks up my sleeve. I just had nothing else left but to speak. And I just said it like, ‘how could you do this to me?’  It was a deep psychological dance that sort of went for an hour or more. I felt like I was outside my body watching this thing happen.  I’ve never felt that kind of adrenaline. I left there shaking, trembling. I could barely put one foot down the stairs. My hands were trembling.  I really felt like I had escaped something horrible.”

“He called me several times afterwards and I felt like so confused by the situation because I felt like he was sort of managing me by calling me to make sure I wasn’t gonna speak to anyone. And to me, my 23 year old brain, I think I felt like he had the power to know if I was gonna speak to anyone. I felt like if I spoke to anyone, like he had sort of the God-like power, he would know and he would’ve done something terrible to me. I’ve talked to other people about that and I realize that he was actually very vengeful. Also, a lot of women had that feeling with him in particular like that he will get me, I will pay, I will pay for saying no to him. I think we’re all afraid of people like him. “

“I was scared of him. For twenty years, I never said a word publicly, not a word.  I felt so wildly, wildly small in the world at that time compared to him both metaphorically and actually. It was such a tender time because you’re just starting in your career. You’re out of acting school and you’re ready, you’re excited and ready to go.  I had gotten a couple of jobs and I had a great agent. And then I meet up with this man who I think is gonna be the greatest meeting I’ve had and the opportunity I’ve had. And it went the other way. It was so crushing. I just felt very powerless.  And yes, I was blacklisted.  I was on a list. I saw it.  I saw my name on the list. Roman Farrow showed it to me.”

“You know, it makes you think a lot of things. It makes you think is it a compulsion, is it an addiction, a sort of compulsion addiction? Maybe it’s the same thing. I’ve heard Tarana Burke who started the Me Too movement and I’ve heard her say that it’s not about sex, it’s about power. It’s a power thing. Until you can sort of redo that power structure and deal with what that really is, that sort of power over another and that need to do that, that’s when you’re really gonna crack the code on this.”

Katherine continues to work in LA as an actress and a photographer.

Sarah Ann Masse plays New York Times journalist Emily Steel.

Sarah Ann Masse

She Said

“It was really upsetting. It was not what I expected at all. At first when he opened the door in his underwear, I really just felt very embarrassed and awkward because I thought he had forgotten that we had an interview. It was a weekend and I thought he sort of was just being lazy around the house or something. I thought he would excuse himself and change and then we would conduct the interview. Initially I didn’t feel terrified, I just felt uncomfortable. But when he closed the door and led me into the living room and sat down to conduct the interview in his underwear, that’s when I knew something was off. And even then my brain sort of tried to make sense of it and go, ‘Well, maybe this is just like a weird quirky Hollywood thing and, you know, just try to keep your cool and stay professional.’ At that point, I couldn’t leave. I was locked behind this door, but I was also at the end of like a mile long driveway with a huge metallic electronic gate that was controlled from inside the house and I didn’t know where it was.  I couldn’t get away even if I wanted to. So I sort of just hoped it wouldn’t get worse. But it did.”

“I felt relief when I first saw the kids come in. I thought thank God we’re not alone. But he turned on a dime like Jekyll and Hyde and went from being someone who was I think attempting to be charming and professional to someone who was like a monster. He was just screaming at his children telling them they had to leave the room. They could not come back as long as I was there. It was at that point where I knew I was definitely in trouble. After they left, he started asking me about my acting career and wanting to see my acting resume, which was really unprofessional because I was there under the auspices of being a nanny. And then he started asking me if I would use sex to get ahead in my acting career, if I would flirt with his friends to get ahead in my acting career. I obviously said no definitively to both. By the end of the interview, he sexually assaulted me and I completely froze up. I just like went stiff as a board and prayed for it to end. And then he let me go. I’m just like getting chills talking about it again.” 

“I think the trauma of it and the direct impact on my life stuck with me for a lot longer because he did have the power to destroy me and I was terrified of that. I was terrified that I would run into him again or I would unintentionally audition for a project that he was involved in that I wouldn’t know about or that other men would treat me the same way. By the time the story about Weinstein broke, I had held this fear that he could destroy my career for almost a decade. He had sort of actually destroyed it by holding me back for so long. When I knew there were so many other women and when I knew that it seemed like he was being held accountable because he was gonna be fired, I thought I could finally tell my story and be safe. And I did.”

Sarah Ann Masse launched her own initiative which is now an organization called Hire Survivors.

Alessandro Ago is Director of Programming and Special Projects
USC School of Cinematic Arts

He Said

“Harvey Weinstein completely transformed film culture in the 90s, backing a whole generation of young disruptors who wrote and directed from outside of the Hollywood studio system. He saw the artistic and commercial potential of the independent film movement, and seemingly invented the market demand for small, provocative and transgressive films that would become sensational mainstream successes, from Sex, Lives and Videotape to Pulp Fiction, The Piano to The Crying Game, Good Will Hunting to Clerks. His taste was impeccable, his marketing tactics brilliant. His ability to influence Oscar voters was the stuff of legends. Nobody was more thanked on Oscar night — more than parents, agents, and God combined. With so much profit and prestige at stake, it’s not hard to imagine that an entire industry would somehow collectively look the other way, as each disgusting instance of sexual battery was committed, and the victims either forced to feign gratitude or made to disappear. Women who had every right to assume that their talent and ambition had earned them a business meeting with Hollywood’s homegrown Lorenzo de’ Medici, someone who championed mavericks and respected artistic vision (though this too would be debunked many times over by the directors he worked with). Instead, these women, more often than not, found themselves trapped in a hotel room with a man, naked and sweating, promising glory or ruin over a friendly “massage”. She Said is another critical reminder that men with God-like power bestowed upon them by an industry of sycophants don’t just exploit it — they expect their victims to be grateful for the privilege of their abuse.”