Director and writer, and Oscar nominee James Toback has been accused by 38 women of sexual harassment. He instantly denied the accusations, saying there hasn’t been any non-consensual sexual contact with any of his accusers. Did the Weinstein scandal open a Pandora’s box of Hollywood’s dirty laundry, and what can we expect in the future?
Allegedly, Toback’s behavior was described almost identically as Harvey Weinstein, with people saying his actions were something of an open secret in Hollywood. Rumors of his behavior were reported in celebrity gossip columns as far back as 1989.
Toback has been active as a writer and director since the mid 1970s, and titled his semi-autobiographical 1987 film The Pick-Up Artist. His most recent film, The Private Life of a Modern Woman, stars British actress Sienna Miller.
Until now, a staggering number of 38 women have come forward to accuse Toback (72) of harassment or assaults stretching back to the 1980s. He is accused of “prowling the streets of Manhattan looking for attractive young women, usually in their early 20s, sometimes college students, on occasion a high schooler”, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Toback, who was nominated for the Academy Award for writing the original screenplay Bugsy, which starred Warren Beatty, is said to have promised aspiring young actresses that he had the power to make them Hollywood stars.
It is claimed he persuaded girls and women to meet him in private rooms for an “interview” or audition, with the encounters turning into something else entirely. Toback said that he had never met any of these women, and if he had, “it was for five minutes.” He also claimed it was “biologically impossible” for him to engage in the behavior described, saying he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication.
Louise Post, now a guitarist and vocalist for indie rock band Veruca Salt, said she met the writer in 1987 when she was a 20-year-old student. “Going to his apartment has been the source of shame for the past 30 years, that I allowed myself to be so gullible,” she said.
Last week, artist Marianne Barnard came forward with allegations that Polanski molested her when she was 10 years old. The alleged incident took place in 1975, two years before the director fled the United States after pleading guilty to statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Thirty-one of the women spoke on the record about Toback, including Louise Post, a guitarist and vocalist for the band Veruca Salt, and the As the World Turns actor Terri Conn. Actress Echo Danon recalled an incident on the set of Toback’s film Black and White where he put his hands on her and said he would ejaculate if she looked at his eyes and pinched his nipples.
“Everyone wants to work, so they put up with it,” Echo Danon told the LA Times. “That’s why I put up with it. Because I was hoping to get another job.”
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn wrote a lengthy Facebook post about the allegations, saying he had met at least 15 women who said they had these kinds of encounters with Toback, including three women he has dated, two friends and a family member.
“For over 20 years now, I’ve been bringing up James Toback every chance I could in groups of people,” Gunn wrote. “I couldn’t stop him, but I could warn people about him.”
With the old perverts like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, and even Alfred Hitchcock, who else is there among the new Hollywood elites apart from Weinstein and Toback? Will everyone finally start coming out with their stories now that we know these people are not untouchable?