Al Franken digs himself a deeper hole in first sit-down interview about sexual misconduct allegations.
Al Franken Can't Say He's Never Touched a Woman's Butt During Photo Opps
Senator Al Franken faced some tough questions in his first sit-down interview since multiple allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior surfaced about him. While the former "Saturday Night Live" writer and star never fully admitted to intentional misconduct, save for the photo of him appearing to grope Leanne Tweeden's chest while she was sleeping, he did at least acknowledge the possibility of inappropriate touching. Tweeden was the first woman to come forward with allegations against the Minnesota senator.
When asked directly if he had ever put his hand on a woman's butt, Franken replied, "I can’t say that it hasn’t happened ... We take pictures in crowded chaotic situations, I can’t say I haven’t done that. I am very sorry if these women experienced that."
When asked if there might be further allegations, Franken responded, "If you had told me two weeks ago that a woman was going to come forward and say I disrespected her, I would have said no." When pushed that the allegations go beyond "disrespect," Franken paused and reiterated, "I have a different recollection."
WCCO's Esme Murphy spoke on "CBS This Morning," saying she struggled to believe he couldn't recall grabbing women's buttocks.
Franken said he was "embarrassed and ashamed of some of what has come out," but that he would not step down from office. You can watch the full 33-minute interview with him here.
Stassi Schroeder's More Complete Apology
"Vanderpump Rules" star Stassi Schroeder has written a more extensive apology for a controversial podcast episode last week, and again tried to express her intent with it. Many saw the episode as her mocking the #MeToo campaign, disavowing the women who have come forward, and defending their alleged attackers. Three sponsors immediately backed out of her show, but at first Schroeder was defiant in the face of her critics, taking to social media to say that they had missed her point.
By Sunday, the podcast had been removed, and Schroeder had posted an apology via Twitter, but still many didn't see this as enough. Now, a more extensive apology has been written and has completely taken over the homepage of her website. In it, Schroeder acknowledges that some of her comments were "insensitive and thoughtless."
She again tried to reiterate her original intent, while maintaining her support for those women who have come forward. "I have felt that there have been opportunistic people who have used this time to gain attention, fame, money etc. and that frustrates me," she wrote. " I read about men who were fired within hours of one allegation. Without any investigation whatsoever."
Several times in the piece, Schroeder suggested that the timing may not be right for this conversation. "I’ve now realized just how big this issue is and it’s something I can’t even begin to tackle," she wrote. "When the dialogue becomes acceptable, I hope to be a part of it."
Leah Remini Alludes Scientology Is Protecting Danny Masterson
Leah Remini gave a wide-ranging interview to The Daily Beast, during which she alluded to a strategic connection between the Church of Scientology and the Los Angeles Police Department. The topic came up during a discussion of the rape allegations that have been brought against Danny Masterson (Netflix's "The Ranch"). Masterson has denied the allegations.
"There are Scientology policies that say, ‘Safe-point yourself to the area police department because then nobody will attack your good works,’ so it’s all very pointed and calculated," Remini said. She further claimed the Church supports police fundraising as part of this process. Remini has spent years disavowing the church she used to be a member of.
The Church of Scientology disavowed these allegations, telling TheWrap Remini is "attacking the Church and now the LAPD as part of her self-promotion and anti-religious hate campaign."
While Kevin Spacey has been let go by Netflix following accusations brought against him, Masterson remains connected to the streaming network and his show. "We are aware of the allegations and the subsequent investigation, and will respond if developments occur," a representative for Netflix said.
Harvey Weinstein Slapped With Assault Civil Suit
Harvey Weinstein was officially served in a civil suit in London by a woman alleging sexual assault, according to The Guardian. The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, filed the claim against Weinstein, The Weinstein Company in the US and the Weinstein Compnay UK Ltd. Her attorney, Jill Greenfield, expects it to become a group action suit.
The woman, who worked in the film industry, alleged sexual assault by Weinstein in the 2000s and liability against the companies as employers, seeking in excess of £300,000. The woman has not yet filed a police report, or even told her family, but is expected to soon.
Weinstein is facing sexual allegations from dozens of woman dating back decades. The disgraced media mogul has denied all of the allegations.
'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' Will Tackle Weinstein
It was only a matter of time before the Dick Wolf procedural, which has been ripping from real headlines for years to create drama, tackled the biggest scandal to strike Hollywood in decades. "We are hitting Harvey Weinstein head-on," Michael Chernuchin, a "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" executive producer, told Entertainment Weekly. "It’s a real important episode about the rape culture in an industry, and we wanted to try stretch the law to criminalize that sort of environment."
Story elements will be fictionalized and it will take place in the airline industry rather than the world of entertainment. Chernuchin said the writers were already developing the storyline about the "boys club" world of pilots before the Weinstein story broke. When the scandal broke, they realized the parallels.
"This is exactly what the actresses go through in Hollywood, "he said. "So we got all of our Harvey stuff out with airline pilots." The episode is slated to air in 2018.