Warner Bros. Cuts Ties With Brett Ratner as Rape Accusation Surfaces
Brett Ratner is the latest in a handful of powerful Hollywood men accused of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of extensive allegations against former executive Harvey Weinstein. Following yesterday’s damning revelations about Brett Ratner and his alleged history of harassing and / or assaulting Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge and others, the producer tried to get out ahead of an inevitable break with Warner Bros. — which has a first-look deal with Ratner’s RatPac banner. But WB has gone further, officially severing ties with Ratner, who has filed a libel suit against another woman accusing him of rape.
On the heels of The LA Times report on Ratner’s alleged history of misogynistic behavior, harassment and assault, the producer released an official statement announcing his intention to step away from Warner Bros. In what was clearly an attempt to get out ahead of the growing controversy, Ratner acted as if the departure was amicable and perhaps temporary, pending an internal review of his “personal issues.” More than anything, the wording suggests Ratner is graciously doing WB a favor by ensuring they don’t receive any negative attention by association:
In light of the allegations being made, I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities. I don’t want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved.
Almost simultaneously, WB released a statement of their own, formally severing ties with Ratner and removing his name from an upcoming adaptation of The Goldfinch, based on the Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt. That film was the only active project with Ratner’s name attached. The studio has also decided not to renew their first-look deal with Ratner, but will honor the financing deal with his RatPac-Dune Entertainment banner through next March — the company has financed several upcoming films for WB, including Justice League and Ready Player One.
While WB is firmly distancing itself from a man accused of harassing and assaulting numerous women, Ratner has filed a libel suit against another woman. Melanie Kohler is a former employee of Endeavor Talent Agency who accused Ratner of rape in a Facebook post about a week before The LA Times published allegations from six other women. Variety obtained a copy of the post, which is cited in a libel suit filed by Ratner in Hawaii.
Kohler recounts how Ratner was “a predator and a rapist on at least one night in Hollywood about 12 years ago,” when he “preyed” on Kohler and took her to the home of producer Robert Evans. In the filing, Ratner’s attorney, Marty Singer (who has also represented Bryan Singer, no relation) confirms that Ratner was living with Evans around that time, but calls Kohler’s allegations “deliberately false and malicious.”
Although Kohler concedes that Ratner is not a “public monster” and is respectful to prominent “somebodies” in Hollywood, she says she was motivated to come forward so that he can “be accountable for the way he’s treated the nobodies of the world or at least the way he treated me.” Kohler goes on to explain why she decided to come forward now, after not sharing her story with anyone for several years:
I’m embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed, and wish I could go back to forgetting it ever happened. But if I do that, if we all do that, then it keeps happening. We have to come forward. I can’t be an advocate for women speaking out if I don’t speak out, too. … Brett Ratnerraped me. I’m saying his name, I’m saying it publicly. Now at least I can look at myself in the mirror and not feel like part of me is a coward or a hypocrite. I’m standing up and saying this happened to me and it was not ok. Come what may, it is the right thing to do.
Kohler subsequently removed the post after being contacted by Singer, who informed her that she could be sued. In a follow-up post, Kohler said, “Today was explained to me in five words: Lawyer up or shut up.”
Despite taking it down, Kohler’s post was quickly disseminated around Hollywood. Shortly after, Ratner filed the libel suit in Hawaii, where Kohler lives with her husband. Ratner ironically claims Kohler has damaged his personal and professional reputation and caused “emotional distress, worry, anger, and anxiety.”
It’s a bold allegation from a man who only has himself to blame for damaging his reputation. Six other women have accused Ratner of harassment and / or assault. What about the “emotional distress” and “anxiety” they’ve experienced? And why single Kohler — who no longer works in the film industry — out on the heels of six other stories? It’s a bully tactic, and it looks like the efforts of a man desperately clinging to any semblance of control over a narrative tide that’s turned against him.