The outrage surrounding producer Scott Rudin intensified over the weekend, with Broadway star Sutton Foster speaking out while the twin brother of a late former Rudin assistant posted an emotional video message alleging that his brother was traumatized by his experience with the producer.
Both statements follow Rudin’s announcement on Saturday that he is “stepping back” from Broadway. In a statement to the Washington Post, Rudin wrote: “Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly.”
In an Instagram live conversation with performer and personal trainer Beth Nicely on Sunday, Foster, who is set to star in a Rudin-produced revival of “The Music Man” along with Hugh Jackman, spoke out.
“It’s a really unfortunate situation, but the only positive outcome is the one that is happening, and I know Hugh [Jackman] feels exactly the same way,” Foster said, referencing her “Music Man” co-star.
Also on Sunday, the twin brother of a former Rudin assistant called out the producer in an emotional video on Twitter, demanding “real consequences” from the entertainment industry for Rudin’s alleged behavior. The combination of Foster’s statement and the emotional video from David Graham-Caso ensures that the pressure will be on mainstream Hollywood companies to sever ties with one of the most prolific producers in film, TV and theater.
Graham-Caso, who is deputy chief of staff and communications director for L.A. council member Mike Bonin, said his brother, Kevin Blake Graham-Caso, suffered “horrific abuse” while working for Rudin in 2008 and 2009. Kevin Blake Graham-Caso died in October 2020, according to a death certificate reviewed by Variety.
“The motivation was accountability,” Graham-Caso told Variety about his decision to post the message. “Scott Rudin’s horrific abuse of assistants has been an open secret in Broadway and Hollywood circles for decades. I wanted to make this video to make sure that not only he understood, but that the people who have enabled him for years understand. I wanted to do right by my brother and this is the way I know how.”
A Hollywood Reporter story published April 7 first detailed the allegations of abuse and bullying, including alleged instances where Rudin threw a stapler and baked potato at workers and smashed a computer monitor on the hand of an assistant. Since the article’s publication, the Actors’ Equity Fund and Time’s Up have both called for Rudin to release all of his former staffers from non-disclosure agreements.
As to why Foster hadn’t spoken out regarding Rudin earlier, she said that she needed to “step away” in order to see the situation clearly, and apologized for not “trumpeting” her feelings.
“I needed to step away to really address how I wanted to handle the situation and I didn’t feel like I needed to post it so that it would happen. I didn’t feel like that was something that I needed to do because it becomes like, a reactionary thing,” Foster said. “And for me, I needed to take a step back to make sure that the decision I made was mine, and not based on the noise of social media… I apologize if it seemed like I wasn’t actively trumpeting my feelings, but I couldn’t get a clear mind and I really needed to step away.”
Despite the controversy, Foster said she is excited to return to work on “The Music Man.”
“I am so honored to be part of ‘The Music Man’ and I can’t wait to create an incredible, safe, inclusive, loving, amazing environment for everyone involved. And that is all I care about moving forward,” Foster said.
Sutton Foster addresses the Scott Rudin controversy. pic.twitter.com/gnxrwd2JtE
— OnStage Blog (@OnstageBlog) April 18, 2021
That kind of safe environment could not be found at Rudin’s production company, Graham-Caso alleged, sharing stories about Kevin’s experience.
“You berated and demeaned, bullied and harassed him for eight solid months,” Graham-Caso said, as if speaking directly to Rudin. “It was so intense that he developed anxiety and depression and post-traumatic stress, and like many survivors of traumatic abuse, he soon found himself in another abusive relationship later on in his life. It was so intense that last October he took his own life.”
Graham-Caso continued, pledging to make it his personal duty that Rudin faces “real consequences.”
“This message is to let you know that moving forward, I’m going to make sure that people know that when they choose to work with you, they are choosing to work with a bully. They are choosing to work with a racist. They are choosing to work with a small and petty person who hurts those who help him succeed,” Graham-Caso said. “I’m going to make sure that people know the value and importance of a union, and the sort of protections that need to be in place to stop feckless thugs like you from ruining the lives of the people who work with you.”
In an interview with Variety, Graham-Caso alleged that at one point, Rudin got so incensed with his brother that he threw him out of a moving car.
“I guess some appointment didn’t sync on his phone,” he said. “It was years ago, but Kevin told me that Rudin either shoved open a door or shoved him into the door, but basically was yelling, ‘Fuck you, get the fuck out of my car’ and Kevin was like, ‘The car’s moving, I can’t,’ and Rudin was like, ‘No, now.’ And I don’t know if he pushed him physically or pushed the door open that he was leaning on, but either way. Kevin said he didn’t exactly have to tuck and roll, but it was the shock of getting thrown out.”
In the video, Graham-Caso also addresses Rudin’s recent decision to “step back” from Broadway, calling it “a shrewd PR strategy to avoid real consequences.” Then, Graham-Caso elaborated on what response he’d like the entertainment industry to take.
“Now, real consequences would be distributors announcing that any film with your name attached to it will not get bought. Not as long as somebody who treats people like you stands to profit,” Graham-Caso said. “Real consequences would be the talented writers, directors and actors you work with, not returning your calls anymore. Actually showing that they care about the rights and dignity of people and that no one deserves the kind of abuse that you inflict. Real justice would be you knowing that it was Kevin who helped hold you accountable.”
Graham-Caso said his brother stayed silent about Rudin’s alleged abuses because of the career consequences.
“He never wanted to speak out, he always felt it would be the iron nail in the coffin of his career, it would be admitting that he would never make it,” he told Variety. “He wanted to be a writer, he was really, really talented. But he never really wanted to do that. He cared a lot about social justice. We grew up in a union family, we were really progressive, but there were these things conflicting. But when the Hollywood Reporter [article] hit, I felt it was an opportunity to really do right and share his story and his truth and hopefully help other people.”
Representatives for Rudin did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment regarding the statements made by Foster and Graham-Caso. A representative for A24, which is distributing several Rudin-produced movies such as “The Humans” and “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a representative for Netflix, which will stream the Rudin-produced “The Woman in the Window” in May, did not immediately offer comment.
Rudin has been active in TV in recent years. At present he is an executive producer on the FX comedy “What We Do in the Shadows.” In 2015 Rudin’s banner inked a wide-ranging and lucrative TV development and producer deal across multiple TV units of 21st Century Fox. That deal is no longer active in the Disney era.
Watch Graham-Caso’s full video below.
A message to Scott Rudin. pic.twitter.com/mvOqTvH2S9
— David Graham-Caso (@dgrahamcaso) April 18, 2021