HAPPY TOGETHER, directed by Wong Kar-Wai Saturday, May 15, 6:30 p.m. at FORT MASON FLIX In this seminal and gorgeous film, Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai Yiu-Fai (Tony Leung) are lovers who fight to keep their relationship together.
SEE YOU THEN, directed by Mari Walker Friday, May 22, 7:00 p.m. on CAAMFest.com Filmmaker Mari Walker masterfully directs this grounded and touching story of two individuals, who have felt pain in the past. Actors Pooya Mohseni and CAAMFest favorite Lynn Chen showcase their talent with two outstanding and brave performances. Preceded by F1-100, directed by Emory Chao Johnson Art, animation, archival footage, and digital video are interwoven in this transnational meditation through time and space of an international art student carrying a heavy burden.
CLOSING NIGHT PARTY: “FOLX” DANCE PARTY WITH H.P. MENDOZA Sunday, May 23, 7:00pm on CAAMFest.com This thrilling conclusion of CAAMFest includes the world premiere of FOLX, H.P.’s new music album featuring Lex the Lexicon and Anna Ishida (I AM A GHOST). In a time of anxiety, join us as we come together to celebrate, laugh and dance the night away.
Shorts and Shorts Programs with LGBTQ+ themes: OUT/HERE CAAMFest’s OUT/HERE shorts program has been a staple of our festival for over a decade now. In this program, we showcase and celebrate the unique and bold stories from the LGBTQ+ diverse communities. From lesbian vampires to a gay relationship in turmoil, OUT/HERE is a real treasure of stories and storytellers. DUET, directed by Shae Xu In this sensual and dream-like film, an unspoken romance inevitably resurfaces when a high school music teacher meets an old colleague again and decides to perform together for the first time as piano duet partners after they’ve long since drifted apart from each other. SUMMERWINTERSUMMER, directed by Thy Tran Struggling to deal with Martin’s disappearance, Duy resorts to anonymous hook-ups to escape the emptiness. THE LEAF, directed by William J. Zang THE LEAF is a personal, poetic, documentary film about Director Will J. Zang’s experience as both a filmmaker and a gay immigrant during this pandemic. LOVE X BITES, directed by M. Noe, Yupar Momo During Covid19 outbreak, two women enter the quarantine at a hotel and share a room. CLUB QUARANTINE, directed by Aurora Brachman Every night during the Covid-19 lockdown, hundreds of people from around the world gather in a massive queer dance party known as ‘Club Quarantine’. DRIVING WITH THE TOP DOWN, directed by Edward Gunawan A touching film by filmmaker Edward Gunawan explores his family’s intergenerational trauma and intersectional struggles as a queer Chinese Indonesian in this intimately personal video essay. HOW TO DIE YOUNG IN MANILA, directed by Petersen Vargas (DON’T SCREAM Shorts Program) In this evocative, dream-like story a teenage boy follows a group of young hustlers, thinking one of them may be the anonymous hook-up he has arranged to meet for the night. SYNCHRONIZED, directed by Corinne Manabat Cueva (SELF | PORTRAIT Shorts Program) An experimental documentary short that embraces 5 women of color as they collectively reflect about their experiences living and thriving in Oakland. SWINGIN’, directed by Shang-Sing Guo (DIRECT TO TAIWAN Shorts Program) When sixth-grader boy Qiu is bullied in school for having gay dads, his stepfather Howard, a flamboyant Jazz trumpet player, must confront his own nightmares of childhood bullying before he can provide his son a feeling of security.
Additional LGBTQ+ Filmmakers include: BREATHE (HINGA) by Sammay Dizon (HE(ART)BEATS Shorts Program) A performance ritual film and time capsule honoring the sacred grief, life force, and resiliency of the Bay Area Pilipinx community during COVID-19. TO LIVE HERE (sống ở đây) directed by Melanie Ho (WE LIVE HERE Shorts Program) Exploring the intimacy of the mundane, sống ở đây | TO LIVE HERE focuses on the lives of Vietnamese shrimpers and elderly farmers in New Orleans, understanding the reverberations of the past, present in day to day labor. For more information and to purchase tickets for CAAMFest, please visit www.caamfest.com.
About CAAMFest CAAMFest, formerly the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), celebrates the world’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian film, food, and music programs.
About CAAM For 40 years, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) has been dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. As a nonprofit organization, CAAM funds, produces, distributes, and exhibits works in film, television, and digital media. For more information about CAAM, please visit www.CAAMedia.org.
Local cinephiles/filmmakers Gary Carnivele and Jane Winslow present and discuss OUTwatch’s newly minted “30 Best American LGBTQIA Documentaries.” In a conversation shaped by the selections, the duo examine films about LGBTQIA history and issues, activism, gender studies, as well as profiles of noteworthy individual. They will also explore queer documentary style and take a closer look at the work of 3 pivotal auteurs: experimental filmmaker extraordinaire Barbara Hammer, and filmmaking partners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, whose films are not only iconic in queer cinema, but have had widespread mainstream appeal. The conversation concludes with a discussion of films being co-presented by OUTwatch at SDFF 2021. OUTwatch producer Gary Carnivele is a film critic, screenwriter and director. In addition to co-directing and managing SDFF, Jane Winslow is a filmmaker, film professor and frequent festival judge. OUTwatch’s list of the 30 Best American LGBTQI Documentaries is available on OUTwatch and gaysonoma.com.
Ballot Measure 9 was an anti-gay amendment proposed to Oregon voters in 1992 by a conservative group. This documentary goes behind the scenes of the fight to stop Measure 9. It contains portions of anti-gay videos as well as news clips and interviews with the people who successfully fought passage of Measure 9. 1995 Director: Heather MacDonald. 72 min.
New York City’s Stonewall Inn Riot is regarded by many as the site of gay and lesbian liberation stared on June 27-28, 1969. This documentary uses extensive archival film, movie clips and personal recollections to construct an audiovisual history of the gay community before the Stonewall riots. 1984 Directors: Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg 87 min.
The Celluloid Closet
A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film. Based on the book of the same name by gay film historian and critic Vito Russo. 1996 Directors: Rob Epstein; Jeffrey Friedman 107 min.
On New Year’s Eve, 1969, a flamboyant ragtag troupe of genderbending hippies took the stage of San Francisco’s Palace Theater and The Cockettes were born. For the next 2 1/2 years, these talented performers created 20 shows and many underground films.
2002. Directors: Bill weber; David Weissman. 100 min.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
This film recounts the lives and deaths of various victims of AIDS who are commemorated in the AIDS quilt. It is a massive cloth collecting each piece as a memorial for each victim of the disease to both show the death toll and to show the humanity of the victims to those who would rather demonize them. 1989. Directors: Rob Epstien; Jeffrey Friedman. 102 min.
Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter
An exploration of the tenacity of love and the meaning of memory, Hoffmann chronicles her growing understanding of her elderly mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease with witty confessional-style narration. The film examines a timely subject: as Americans live longer, more and more people are faced with the life-altering challenge of caring for an elderly parent. 1995. Director: Deborah Hoffman. 44 min.
The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson
Victoria Cruz investigates the mysterious 1992 death of black gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson. Using archival interviews with Johnson, and new interviews with Johnson’s family, friends and fellow activists. 2017 Director: David France.
Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives
Ten women talk about being lesbian in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s: discovering the pulp fiction of the day about women in love, their own first affairs, the pain of breaking up, frequenting gay bars, facing police raids, men’s responses, and the etiquette of butch and femme roles. 1992. Directors: Lynne Ferbie; Aerlyn Weissman. 85 min.
A Great Ride
A documentary about lesbians aging with dynamism and zest for life. Sally Gearhart, 80-plus retired women’s studies professor and activist, lives in a rustic cabin nestled in the Northern California woods. Although surrounded by the beauty of nature, she also faces several challenges to her independence. 2018. Directors: Deborah Craig; Veronica Duport Deliz. 33 min.
Holly Near: Singing for Our Lives
A documentary revisiting the career of a feisty activist musician, who never quite achieved the same recognition as her similar contemporaries Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. 2018. Director: Jim Brown. 63 min.
How to Survive a Plague
In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease was considered a death sentence affecting communities, like the LGBT ones, whom many in power felt deserved it. This film tells the story of how militant activists like ACT-UP and TAG pushed for a meaningful response to this serious public health problem. 2012 Director: David France. 100 min.
I Am Divine
The story of Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, from his humble beginnings as an overweight, teased Baltimore youth to an internationally recognized drag superstar through his collaboration with filmmaker John Waters. Spitting in the face of the status quos of body image, gender identity, sexuality, and preconceived notions of beauty. 2014. Director: Jeffrey Schwartz. 90 min.
This groundbreaking film sets out to “de-mystify” intersex, looking “beyond the shame and secrecy that defines many intersex births”. Interviewing intersex people around the world, the film explores how they “navigate their way through childhood, adolescence, relationships and adulthood, when they don’t fit the binary model of a solely male and female world.” 2012 Director: Grant Lahood. 68 min.
It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School
The groundbreaking film that addresses anti-gay prejudice by providing adults with practical lessons on how to talk with children about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. Part of The Respect for All Project. 1996. Directors: Debra Chasnoff; Helen Cohen. 80 min.
Killing Patient Zero
Gaetan Dugas was openly gay. In early 1980s he contracted what was termed “gay cancer”. He provided blood samples and 72 names of his former sex partners. Dugas was demonized for his promiscuity and wrongfully identified as patient zero by the media, including San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts. 2019. Director: Laurie Lynd. 100 min.
Lover Other: The Story of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore
French Surrealist lesbian sisters, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore collaborate creating gender-bending photographs, collages, and writing. During the WWII Nazi occupation they perform heroic and imaginative acts of Resistance are captured, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. 2018. Director: Barbara Hammer. 55 min.
This documentary explores the world of transgender bodybuilding, tracking the path of four hopefuls as they prepare for the Trans FitCon competition in Atlanta, Georgia. 2018. Dorector: T. Cooper. 93 min.
Mom’s Apple Pie: The Heart of the Lesbian Mother’s Custody Movement
While the fight for LGBTQ Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum, the 1970s witnessed horrific custody battles for lesbian mothers. Mom’s Apple Pie: The Heart of the Lesbian Mothers’ Custody Movement revisits the early tumultuous years of the lesbian custody movement through the stories of five lesbian mothers and their four children.
2006. Directors: Jody Laine; Shan Ottey; Shad Reinstein. 61 min.
No Secret Anymore: The Times of
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
No Secret Anymore shows Del and Phyllis creating coalitions that took on the prevailing belief that lesbians were illegal, immoral and sick. Phyllis and Del did the groundbreaking work on lesbian mothers, sex education, family violence, and more. Always working both from within and outside the institutions they sought to change, Del and Phyllis were able to advance the rights of LGBT folks. 2003. Director: Joan E. Biren. 57 min.
Paris Is Burning
A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality. 1991
Director: Jeannie Livingston. 71 min.
Portrait of Jason
The highlights of a 12-hour interview with Aaron Payne, alias Jason Holliday, a former houseboy, would-be cabaret performer, and self-proclaimed hustler who, while drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot, tells stories and observations of what it was like to be black and gay in 1960s America. 1967. Diector: Shirley Clarke. 105 min.
The Rest I Make Up
Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes created astonishing worlds onstage. When she stops writing due to dementia, a friendship with a young writer reignites her visionary creative spirit, triggering a film collaboration that picks up where the pen left off. 2018. Director: Michelle Memran. 79 min.
Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria
Documentary about transgender women and drag queens who fought police harassment at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco’s Tenderloin in 1966, three years before the famous riot at Stonewall Inn bar in NYC. 2005. Directors: Victor Silverman; Susan Stryker. 57 min.
Southern Comfort documents the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a transgender man. Eads, diagnosed with ovarian cancer, was turned down for treatment by two dozen doctors out of fear of treating him. By the time Eads received treatment, the cancer was too advanced to save his life. 2002. Director: Kate Davis. 90 min.
The Times of Harvey Milk
San Francisco Board of Supervisors Harvey Milk and SF Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by recently resigned Supervisor Dan White on November 27th, 1978. Milk’s life, his successful efforts to politically represent SF’s LGBT community, and the city’s reaction to the assassinations are documented with news film and personal recollections.
1984. Director: Robert Epstien. 90 min.
Tiny and Ruby: Hell Drivin’ Women
This profile of legendary jazz trumpeter Tiny Davis and her partner of over 40 years, drummer-pianist Ruby Lucas weaves together rare jazz recordings, live performances, vintage photographs, and narrative poetry by Cheryl Clarke. Tiny’s contribution to jazz history is documented and the 78-year-old demonstrates that her chops and humor are both intact. 1996. Director: Greta Schiller. 28 min.
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry, Riggs telling the story of his growing up, scenes of men in social intercourse and dance, and various comic riffs. 1988. Director Marlon Riggs. 55 min.
Trembling Before G-D
Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma – how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbids homosexuality. 2001 Director: Sandi Simcha Dubowski. 94 min.
We Were Here
A deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco, and how the City’s inhabitants dealt with that unprecedented calamity. It explores what was not so easy to discern in the midst of it all – the parallel histories of suffering and loss; community coalescence and empowerment. 2011. Directors: David Weissman; Bill Weber. 90 min.
Word is Out
26 men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk about being gay. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which for some meant marriage), disclosing their sexuality, establishing adult identities, and reflecting on how things have changed and how things should be. All see social progress as they reflect.
1979. Directors: Nancy Adair; Peter Adair; Andrew Brown; Rob Epstein; Lucy Massie Phenix; Veronica Selver. 164 min.
Most titles are available for purchase. Many titles are available on DVD through Sonoma County Public Libraries. Some are available from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services.
Celebrating 10 Years of Transcendence!Announcing our 2021 season
A note from Artistic Director, Amy Miller:Welcome to Transcendence’s 10th Anniversary Season! It has been WAY too long since we’ve seen you and we are thrilled that all of us can FINALLY experience LIVE musical theatre again! Thank you for your support and patience during these unprecedented times. Our company exists to uplift and inspire our community and we can’t wait for you to join us for a magical summer under the stars!
2021 Season Announcement Video
“My Hero”A live drive-in celebration for healthcare heroes
At long last, LIVE musical theater is back as Transcendence Theatre Company premieres “My Hero”! Let’s celebrate the strength and courage of the heroes around us with a LIVE performance at the Drive-In. Join us under the stars for a night of laughs and music and dancing for a joyous summer kick off! This spectacular evening of musical theatre will entertain the whole family and honor our front-line healthcare workers.
Tickets are priced per car and run from $59-129. Tickets are also be available to purchase on behalf of a healthcare worker and donated to them and their families to attend the show.June 4-6 – Sonoma/Marin Fairgrounds, PetalumaJune 11-13 – BR Cohn, Glen EllenJune 18-20 – Skyline Wilderness Park, Napa For more information about “My Hero”, Click on the button below.
“Road Trip!”The vacation you didn’t get to take in 2020
When is the last time you were in Nashville? Have you taken the kids to Orlando? Wouldn’t it be awesome to experience Hollywood’s old school charm? Or a magical night on the town in New York City? Come sing along with your Broadway tour guides as we take an epic musical tour of the great United States! “ROAD TRIP!” is the vacation you’ve been waiting for!
Tickets are priced per person and run from $49-129. Tickets will also be available to purchase on behalf of a healthcare worker and donated to them and their families to attend the show. August 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 For more information about “Road Trip!”, Click on the button below.
“The Gala”A very special Gala to pay tribute to our beloved Sonoma Community
Transcendence celebrates its 10th Anniversary in Sonoma and you are invited! This magical evening will feature show-stopping vocals and beloved songs from the greatest Broadway musicals. This year, we are planning a very special Gala to pay tribute to our beloved Sonoma Community that embraced us with open arms a decade ago.
Tickets are priced per person and run from $49-129. Tickets will also be available to purchase on behalf of a healthcare worker and donated to them and their families to attend the show. September 10-12, 17-19 For more information about “The Gala”, Click on the button below.
Leading Ladies, filmed in Colombia, is the tale of five young women who have gathered together for a celebratory dinner for one of their number who has been away for the past two months. They have no idea why Marce (MARCELA ROBLEDO) disappeared suddenly without warning and it soon appears that they will not necessarily believe or accept her explanation anyway.Caudeli films the dinner party that ensues from each of the participant’s perspectives, and each time the ‘story’ starts all over again, we learn more of the unspoken currents going on. Each of the women has their share of secrets and regrets too which they are very reluctant to expose.
Being truthful is a major issue here, and where some of the lies are new, others have been held for some years. It spreads confusion even over matters that concern each of the women’s sexualities.Very impressively, Caudeli puts great trust in her actresses as she films them without a script. It’s a gamble the pays off as it gives such authenticity to how finely tuned friendships really are as they balance to survive or just falter. Who is actually honest with each other or themselves is not at all clear, but then it seems not to be too relevant in the telling of the stories.
What makes the film really work, is that all of us can personally connect with at least one of these characters on what we want to share with our friends. And maybe even more than one of them.
Last year at this time, as much of the world was on lockdown due to the pandemic, Leslie Jordan began posting daily videos of himself on Instagram.
The actor known for roles in the “American Horror Story” franchise and “Will & Grace” was staying near family in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was bored.
Many of Jordan’s videos included him asking “How ya’ll doin?” He referred to his followers as “hunker downers.” Sometimes he posted stories about Hollywood or his childhood growing up with identical twin sisters and their “mama,” as he calls her. Other times he did silly bits like complete an indoor obstacle course. He quickly became a bright spot during an otherwise bleak time and his followers grew.
“Someone called from California and said, ’Oh, honey, you’ve gone viral.’ And I said, ’No, no, I don’t have Covid. I’m just in Tennessee,” said Jordan. Celebrities including Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Alba and Anderson Cooper, along with brands such as Reebok and Lululemon, would post comments.
Soon he became fixated with the number of views and followers he had, because there wasn’t much else going on.
“For a while there, it was like obsessive. And I thought, ‘This is ridiculous. Stop, stop, stop.′ You know, it almost became, ’If it doesn’t happen on Instagram, it didn’t happen.’ And I thought, ‘You’re 65, first of all. You’re not some teenage girl.’”
The spotlight led to new opportunities. Earlier this month he released a gospel album called “Company’s Comin’” featuring Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder and Tanya Tucker. He also has a new book called, “How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived.” It’s Jordan’s second book. His first, “My Trip Down the Red Carpet” was published in 2008.
“That sort of dealt with all the angst and growing up gay in the Baptist Church and la, la, la, la, la. And this one, I just wanted to tell stories.” In “How Y’all Doing,” Jordan writes about working with Lady Gaga on “American Horror Story,” how meeting Carrie Fisher led to Debbie Reynolds calling his mother, and the Shetland pony he got as a child named Midnight.
Jordan says it was hard to narrow down what he wanted to write about because he’s a storyteller by nature.
“It’s very Southern. If I was to be taught a lesson or something when I was a kid, I was told a story.”
With no shortage of anecdotes, Jordan ends the book with a tease there’s more to come. “This is not goodbye forever,” he writes but won’t say if there is an official plan for more, just that if this book does well, he’d love to write another.
Now that the globe has hit the one year mark of the pandemic, Jordan is less reliant on Instagram. He sometimes has to remind himself to post something new and can scramble for content.
“I didn’t plan it in any way at all,” he said of his quarantine surge in popularity. People say to me, ‘Tell me what you did, because I want to get a lot of followers.’ I have no idea. I remember the day it got to a million. Now it’s almost 6 million. … I’ll tell you where it helps, when they go to negotiate the money,” he laughed.
Jordan, who was most recently in the Fox comedy “Call Me Kat” starring Mayim Bialik and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” says he made a decision when he turned 60 to treat showbiz like a regular job and clock out each evening. “At six o’clock, the curtain goes down. TV and movies, see, that’s my job. I have other things that I do besides that.” These days, Jordan spends much of his spare time taking riding lessons and is preparing for his first horse show in June.
Tucker Carlson blasted The Washington Post and its media columnist, Erik Wemple, on Tuesday for looking into his background and contacting Carlson’s college acquaintances.
“Jeff Bezos had one of his minions, a mentally unbalanced middle-aged man called Erik Wemple, pull our dusty college yearbook and call around and see if we’d done anything naughty at the age of 19,” Carlson told viewers, referring to the Amazon CEO, who also owns the Post. “Let us know if you hear any good stories.”
According to Carlson, “quite a few old college classmates” had contacted him Tuesday and told him Wemple had been asking questions.
Read the full article. As for the tweet below, it’s not yet clear if such a group actually existed.
Friday, April 23 Online program Free | $5 suggested donation
In honor of National Poetry Month in April, poet James J. Siegel will read excerpts from his new poetry collection The God of San Francisco (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020), a poetic exploration of San Francisco’s queer history from the North Beach drag scene to Twin Peaks Tavern in the Castro, from the triumphant election of Harvey Milk to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic. Siegel will be joined by queer poets Natasha Dennerstein, Dazié Grego-Sykes, Baruch Porras-Hernandez and Jacques J. Rancourt to read poems that explore our personal connections to LGBTQ history, our queer ancestors and the ongoing fight for equality. Register online here.
Even as other Hollywood bullies are being sidelined, the uber-producer behind ‘The Social Network’ and Broadway’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has been given a pass for his volcanic temper. Now, former employees open up about a boss who left many traumatized: “It was a new level of unhinged.”
On a brisk Halloween day in 2012, the thin facade of normalcy at Scott Rudin Productions shattered. Literally.
At about 4:15 p.m. — more than 10 hours into a typical Rudin day that began at 6 and never wrapped before 8 — the Oscar-winning producer was enraged that one of his assistants failed to get him a seat on a sold-out flight. In a fit of fury, he allegedly smashed an Apple computer monitor on the assistant’s hand. The screen shattered, leaving the young man bleeding and in need of immediate medical attention. One person in the office at the time described the incident as sounding like a car crash: a cacophonous collision of metal, glass and limb. The wounded assistant headed to the emergency room, and Rudin called his lawyer, according to another staffer there that Halloween afternoon. Everyone else huddled in the conference room, shaken. No one stayed until 8 p.m., with most of the staff heading over to a Times Square bar for a therapeutic drink.
“We were all shocked because we didn’t know that that sort of thing could happen in that office,” says Andrew Coles, a then-development executive and now-manager and producer, whose credits include Queen & Slim. “We knew a lot could happen. There were the guys that were sleeping in the office, the guys whose hair was falling out and were developing ulcers. It was a very intense environment, but that just felt different. It was a new level of unhinged — a level of lack of control that I had never seen before in a workplace.” Through a spokesperson, Rudin declined to comment on any of the specific allegations mentioned in this story. The alleged victim declined to comment.
For some four decades, Rudin’s abusive behavior has been chronicled — even celebrated — by the press. In a 2010 profile, this publication dubbed him “The Most Feared Man in Town” and called him “dazzlingly charming” one paragraph after describing acts of cruelty and intimidation. In a 2005 Wall Street Journal profile with the headline “Boss-zilla!,” Rudin himself pegged the number of assistants he burned through in the previous five years at 119.
But in October 2017, Harvey Weinstein was toppled from power following twin investigative reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker detailing his sexual predation, ushering in the entertainment industry’s #MeToo era. That reckoning has expanded in scope to include toxic behavior encompassing everything from racism to milder microaggressions. Talent and executives, including Sharon Osbourne at The Talk and three executive producers at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, have been kicked to the curb for bullying antics. Likewise, America’s Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union received a settlement from NBC in September after filing an employment complaint that alleged a “toxic culture,” which included fellow judge Simon Cowell smoking cigarettes on set and guest judge Jay Leno making a racist joke.
Still, there has been no reckoning for Rudin, 62, one of the industry’s most decorated producers, whose films have earned 151 Oscar nominations and 23 wins, including best picture for the Coen brothers’ 2007 drama No Country for Old Men. He’s even more successful on the theater front, having nabbed 17 individual Tony Awards. His Aaron Sorkin stage collaboration, To Kill a Mockingbird, became the hottest ticket on Broadway in 2018. During a single week that year, the drama earned more than $1.5 million at the box office, breaking a 118-year-old record in the process.
On May 14, Netflix will release Rudin’s latest production, The Woman in the Window. Like most of his efforts, the film features A-list talent, including star Amy Adams and director Joe Wright. As was the case with many things involving Rudin, it was fraught with drama, say sources, with the producer taking the reins from Wright after the Fox 2000 thriller tested poorly, then hiring Tony Gilroy to write for reshoots. In the end, sources say, it tested about the same.
Even as others have been canceled or have dialed back their aggression, Rudin’s behavior has continued unabated, leaving a trail of splintered objects and traumatized employees in his path.
Caroline Rugo had expected a grueling environment when she joined Scott Rudin Productions as an executive coordinator in fall 2018. She accepted that her days began at 5 a.m., fielding emails before reporting to the New York office at 6. Given that she lives with Type 1 diabetes, Rugo needed to carve out 30 minutes a day for exercise and provided a doctor’s note signed off on by Rudin that allowed her to work out from 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Even with a narrow margin for an outside life, she was eager to work for the uber-producer behind The Social Network and Broadway’s The Book of Mormon. What she hadn’t anticipated was the onslaught of acts of intimidation.
“He threw a laptop at the window in the conference room and then went into the kitchen and we could hear him beating on the napkin dispenser,” says Rugo. “Then another time he threw a glass bowl at [a colleague]. It’s hard to say if he threw it in the general direction or specifically at [the colleague], but the glass bowl hit the wall and smashed everywhere. The HR person left in an ambulance due to a panic attack. That was the environment.”
Multiple people corroborated the incident involving the HR staffer, who never returned, as well as the laptop and napkin-dispenser episode, which took place in early March 2019 during a meeting with a publicist from SpotCo, a major Broadway ad agency. The following year, SpotCo sued Rudin for $6.3 million for unpaid pre-pandemic work on eight shows, becoming the latest legal action against him that spilled into public view. (The case is still active.) In 2018, the estate of Harper Lee sued Rudin, claiming that the Sorkin script altered characters, the setting and the legal proceeding at the heart of her novel. (The parties later reached a settlement, the details of which were not made public.)
Around the same time of the SpotCo complaint, red-hot writer Jeremy O. Harris called Rudin out on Twitter as “loudly racist,” in another public break. The Slave Play playwright and Zola screenwriter continued, “He called me on the phone and cussed me out once and said ‘you’re a baby playwright who has written one good play no one gives a FUCK what you have to say’ To which I responded, ‘Why did you just pay me to say something in TWO plays?’ “
Rudin tantrums have been well documented going back four decades and are said to have at least partly inspired the 1994 assistant revenge fantasy film Swimming With Sharks. Manchester by the Sea producer Kevin Walsh told THR in 2014 that Rudin demanded Walsh get out of his car and abandoned him on a highway. In the same article, producer Adam Goodman called the environment “really, really, really gnarly.” Others depict a cult-like atmosphere, where once-abused lieutenants take on their boss’ worst qualities (one former staffer says Rudin and a senior executive would throw every item off the desk of an office manager for “no reason at all”). In a 2010 THR profile, Rudin downplayed his high rate of turnover. “People who do fantastically tend to end up going on to very strong, illustrious careers,” he says, “and the people who wash out tend to not be heard from again.” (The Rudin diaspora includes such high-profile executives as producer Amy Pascal and Josh Greenstein, co-head of Sony’s Motion Picture Group.)
But with Hollywood reexamining its power structures and inequities, Rudin’s brand of aggro behavior is suddenly out of step in an industry championing egalitarianism. One recent Rudin assistant says the mercurial producer threw a baked potato at his head in 2018 for not knowing why someone from indie distributor A24 was in the lobby.
“I went into the kitchen, and I was like, ‘Hey, Scott, A24 is on the way up. I’m not sure what it’s concerning,’ ” he says. “And he flipped out, like, ‘Nobody told me A24 was on my schedule.’ He threw it at me, and I dodged a big potato. He was like, ‘Well, find out, and get me a new potato.’ “
Adding insult to injury, the assistant was fired by Rudin not long after dropping out of college to join his staff full-time.
Ryan Nelson, who was Rudin’s executive assistant in 2018-19, says he experienced and witnessed so much mistreatment, including the producer throwing a stapler at a theater assistant and calling him a “retard,” that he left the industry altogether.
“Every day was exhausting and horrific,” he says. “Not even the way he abused me, but watching the way he abused the people around me who started to become my very close friends. You’re spending 14 hours a day with the same people, enduring the same abuse. It became this collective bond with these people.”
Likewise, assistant Miguel Cortes became a bike mechanic for a year after leaving Scott Rudin Productions in 2019, feeling scarred by the experience and assuming that all offices operated this way.
“There was definitely a distance you wanted to maintain when you were talking to Scott at any time,” he recalls. “I’m a tall guy. Like 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, well, I’m not intimidated by him. He’s shorter than me.’ But every time I’d be sitting down is when he’d come over and lord over me. I remember thinking, ‘That’s almost a genius move, getting me when I’m at my smallest.’ He would be right over me and literally shouting at me.”https://d01452b876a6ed2c532a3dc781e6dd9b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
On Indeed.com, where Rudin posts ads for a constant stream of vacancies, one anonymous reviewer warned prospective applicants to “Please Run Far, Far Away” and claimed to have witnessed the producer “pulling a chair out from under an assistant’s seat to fire him so he could fall down,” among other transgressions carried out in front of the titan’s industry partners.
For Rugo, she was out in six months after enduring a series of so-called “soft firings” — a unique phenomenon at Rudin’s company that several sources detailed. An ousted employee would wait in the Starbucks in the lobby for Rudin to cool off and allow the groveling underling to return. Not this time. After Rudin became ensnared in a feud between Nathan Lane and director George C. Wolfe during previews of his Tony-nominated play Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, Rugo says Rudin began to blame her for the situation. He demanded that she skip her 5:30 a.m. gym visit or work faster. She refused — and didn’t bother waiting in the Starbucks.
“I got fired for having Type 1 diabetes, which is a federally protected disability,” says Rugo, who now works in development at Netflix. “I one hundred percent could have sued him. But I didn’t because of the fear of being blacklisted. But I’ve worked at Netflix for a year and a half now. And it was such a shock to the system because it’s one of the most respectful and progressive workplaces in terms of employee relations. Now that I have established myself here and I am a part of a team where my opinions are respected and welcomed, I have no issue speaking out about Scott. Everyone just knows he’s an absolute monster.”
Another assistant, who asked not to be named because he fears career retaliation, detailed a kitchen encounter with Rudin in 2018 that devolved quickly.
“He asked me to clean the kitchen. I told him, ‘That’s really not my job.’ I had to do a bunch of other stuff that was urgent,” the former assistant says. “The kitchen was not urgent. And then he flipped out, and he took his teacup, threw it, and it shattered and left a hole in the wall. I was like, ‘I’m a human. This is a physical act of aggression.’ “
Since its earliest days, Hollywood has been prone to abuses of power. Abusive behavior tends to be overlooked or accommodated when the power imbalance dynamic is at its most extreme. Nowhere is that more evident than at Scott Rudin Productions, where a conveyor belt of assistants — typically recent NYU grads who are hungry, vulnerable and willing to put up with maltreatment — rotates in and out, providing the backbone for the prolific producer behind There Will Be Blood and Doubt, the latter for both stage and screen, and TV’s What We Do in the Shadows and The Newsroom. None of them is over the age of 25.
One former Rudin assistant says the producer relished in the cruelty but was able to pivot from berating staff to turning on the charm as soon as talent walked in the door.
“When you feel his spit on your face as he’s screaming at you, saying, ‘You’re worth nothing,’ it obviously makes an impact, and we’re young,” the assistant says. “Over his long career, there are hundreds and hundreds of people who have suffered. And some have given up their dreams because he made them feel and believe that they can’t do whatever it is they’re trying to do.”
Another staffer says Rudin purposefully disrupted people’s careers with lies. Around the time that Rudin attained EGOT status in 2012 — becoming one of only 16 people living or dead ever to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony — he became enraged when one of his female underlings left to work at The Weinstein Co. According to multiple sources, Rudin emailed Harvey Weinstein and insisted that she had stolen from him. (Weinstein didn’t listen and continued to employ her. She continues to work in the industry to this day.)
“That was a big, big moment,” says another staffer of the mistreatment of his colleague. “It literally changed everyone who was there at the time’s interest in having anything to do with him ever again. All of the employees realized that this is what we had to look forward to, after slaving away, being attacked so much, being maligned in really bizarre ways. There was a casual disregard for human rights.”
Rudin’s wrath wasn’t only aimed at employees. He privately clashed with director Sam Mendes and took out an ad in The New York Times to berate a Times theater writer. His emails — which became fodder for the general public following the Sony hack when he called Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat” and made racially insensitive jokes about President Barack Obama, saying he probably liked Kevin Hart — are often scathing, says an assistant who was privy to them. In one exchange with fellow EGOT Whoopi Goldberg, he lambasted her because she wanted to play a part in To Kill a Mockingbirdinstead of another Rudin-produced project, the film adaptation of Aleshea Harris’ acclaimed play Is God Is. He called her an idiot, said she’d never work again in anything important and wished her luck on The View. Goldberg declined to comment.
Rudin continues to work with the best in the film business. His next projects include Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, with Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, and Jennifer Lawrence’s Red, White and Water, both for A24. The New York-based distributor says it has no official first-look deal with Rudin even though it does frequent business with him.
Per a knowledgeable legal source, bullying claims against Rudin never see the light of day and are settled quietly. Fear of reprisals has kept many from speaking out. Employees typically sign a non-disparagement agreement. And several sources for this piece consulted with an attorney before proceeding, even off the record.
Rudin also has been known to change credits, both as incentive and punishment. Several sources say that the victim of the computer monitor incident received three associate producing credits in addition to a monetary settlement. Others have seen the flip side of Rudin’s leverage.
“When they ultimately quit — which they always do at some point — he vindictively goes on IMDb and takes away any credits they may have amassed while working for him,” says one producer who hired a traumatized assistant following a Rudin stint and saw the practice play out.
Coles hopes that fear of Rudin’s power will not stymie progress in the industry just at a time when Hollywood appears ready to confront abuses of power.
“Part of the change we want to see in the industry means starting to talk about these things openly, to name names, to talk about the things that actually happened. And you don’t get a free pass for abusing people,” he says. “I’m not afraid of Scott Rudin.”
Frameline—the world’s longest–running and largest showcase of queer cinema—is thrilled to announce Frameline45: The San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, running June 10–27, 2021. Slated to be the most attended and longest festival in Frameline history, this year’s offerings will include a mix of in–person and virtual offerings—with the first week presenting only outdoor and drive-in events, and the last 11 days bringing the biggest lineup of new and virtually-accessible LGBTQ+ films in the world directly to your home. A complete lineup of events, including a schedule of screenings, will be announced at a later date.
Frameline45 will present a number of firsts:
The first film festival programmed by Frameline’s new Director of Programming Allegra Madsen.
The first time virtual programming will be available to ticket buyers nationwide.
The first time Frameline will offer a Festival Streaming Pass, which gives ticket buyers the opportunity to unlock all virtual festival content, including over 50 film screenings, live and pre-recorded intros, thought-provoking Q&As and panels, “In Conversation” with community and celebrity personalities, and other unique programming.
Frameline45 and SF Pride present Movie Night at Oracle Park, a socially-distanced and ticketed event being held on Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12 at the home of the San Francisco Giants.
“Following our off-cycle festival last September, we are thrilled to return the festival to its rightful home during June’s Pride Month,” said James Woolley, Frameline Executive Director. “In the spirit of celebration, this homecoming will restore some of the magic of our in-person festival experience with a slate of outdoor and drive-in events, as well as the largest lineup of virtual LGBTQ+ programming ever! We look forward to sharing our complete lineup in the coming weeks.”
Tickets for Frameline45 will go on sale to the general public beginning Tuesday, May 25. For more information, visit www.frameline.org.
ABOUT FRAMELINE Frameline’s mission is to change the world through the power of queer cinema. As a media arts nonprofit, Frameline’s integrated programs connect filmmakers and audiences in San Francisco and around the globe. Frameline provides critical funding for emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers, reaches hundreds of thousands with a collection of over 250 films distributed worldwide, inspires thousands of students in schools across the nation with free films and curricula through Youth in Motion, and creates an international stage for the world’s best LGBTQ+ film through the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival and additional year-round screenings and cinematic events. For more information on Frameline, visit www.frameline.org.
Sunday, April 11th @4pm. Occidental Center for the Arts’ Virtual Book Launch Series presents Barbara Gonnella and Gaye le Baron in conversation on newly published Occidental, Images of America. Admission free, all donations gratefully accepted. Visit OCA website (occidentalcenterforthearts.org) for link to this event live-streaming on YouTube. Book sales through author or at the Union Hotel.