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The Latest: Publicity firm changes names after accusations

November 1, 2017
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on sexual harassment in entertainment (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

A major country music publicity firm is changing its name after its president and CEO was accused of sexually assaulting an aspiring country singer.

A statement released Wednesday from Webster Public Relations said Kirt Webster is "taking time away from the business to focus on the egregious and untrue allegations."

The firm, which has high profile clients such as Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Kid Rock and Hank Williams Jr., has been renamed Westby Public Relations and is being run by senior vice president Jeremy Westby.

A former singer named Austin Rice says Webster groped his genitals, kissed him, made him strip naked and sexually assaulted him in 2008.

The allegations come as Hollywood's sexual harassment crisis has widened to other areas of entertainment and media.

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3:30 p.m.

Playboy Enterprises is shelving all projects it has with Brett Ratner — including a biopic of founder Hugh Hefner — following allegations by six women that the director and producer sexual harassed and assaulted them.

Playboy says in a statement Wednesday that it's "deeply troubled" by the allegations which Ratner's attorney says the director denies.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Ratner sexually harassed and assaulted six women, including actress Olivia Munn.

Jared Leto was expected to play Hefner in the film co-produced by RatPac Entertainment, which was formed by investor James Packer and Ratner. Playboy says projects with RatPac are on hold.

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12:45 p.m.

A British town plans to burn a 36-foot (11-meter) effigy of Harvey Weinstein at its annual Bonfire Night celebrations.

Each year the Edenbridge Bonfire Society chooses a well-known figure to go up in flames alongside an effigy of 17th-century militant Guy Fawkes.

The society says the movie mogul was the obvious choice after many women made allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him.

The effigy unveiled Wednesday appears in a bathrobe, holding a Hollywood star and a clapperboard with "final cut" on it. It will be burned Saturday in the southern England town.

The society stressed while the event is light-hearted, there's "nothing funny" about the allegations.

Towns across Britain light bonfires and fireworks to commemorate Guy Fawkes' failed Nov. 5 Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament in 1605.

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12:30 p.m.

An attorney for Brett Ratner says the film director, who has been accused by six women of sexual harassment and assault, "vehemently denies the outrageous derogatory allegations."

Attorney Martin D. Singer issued a statement Wednesday saying "we are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims."

The Los Angeles Times report on Wednesday cites six women — including Olivia Munn — who say Ratner aggressively pursued actresses.

Munn said that while visiting the set of Ratner's "After the Sunset" in 2004, he masturbated in front of her in his trailer.

Ratner also directed the "Rush Hour" film series, "Red Dragon," ''X-Men: The Last Stand" and "Tower Heist."

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11:15 a.m.

Dustin Hoffman is apologizing for the alleged sexual harassment of a 17-year-old intern in 1985, saying "it is not reflective of who I am."

Writer Anna Graham Hunter alleges that the 80-year-old actor groped her on the set of TV movie "Death of a Salesman" and "talked about sex to me and in front of me." She was left in tears, she wrote in a column Wednesday in The Hollywood Reporter.

The Oscar-winner replied Wednesday morning in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

Hoffman is the latest Hollywood name linked to a deluge of sexual harassment and assault allegations that have been levied against producer Harvey Weinstein, director Brett Ratner and writer-director James Toback. Harassment allegations have also been levied against actors Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Piven.

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9:45 a.m.

Six women including actress Olivia Munn have accused film director Brett Ratner of sexual harassment or misconduct in a Los Angeles Times report.

Munn said that while visiting the set of Ratner's "After the Sunset" in 2004, he masturbated in front of her in his trailer. Munn described the incident, without naming Ratner, in a 2010 collection of essays.

The LA Times report describes other encounters where Ratner aggressively pursued actresses, sometimes following them into a bathroom. An extra on "Rush Hour 2" named Eri Sasaki said Ratner suggested he would give her a line in the film if she slept with him.

Police weren't contacted about any of the incidents, nor did they result in financial settlements.

Representatives for Ratner didn't immediately respond to queries Wednesday.

Ratner is the latest Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual harassment in a scandal that began after The New York Times published an expose last month about decades of harassment allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

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6:20 a.m.

The steakhouse at Harrah's New Orleans Casino is now called BH Steak — instead of Besh Steak.

The change, reported by New Orleans media, comes a week after the casino broke ties with celebrity chef John Besh. The action followed an investigative story by NOLA.comThe Times-Picayune about allegations of sexual harassment involving the business.

The story outlined the claims of women who said they were victims of sexual harassment by male co-workers and bosses in the Besh Restaurant Group. Besh stepped down from his management role in the business after the story was published.

The name BH Steak honors William "Bill" Harrah, who founded the Harrah's gambling empire in the 1930s.

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4:15 a.m.

Christian Bale won what embattled Kevin Spacey lost: the privilege of being name-checked on "This Is Us."

Tuesday's episode of the NBC drama included a 2008 flashback scene in which a struggling actor learns his roommate has gotten a role in a major movie.

In the scene filmed before Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct, the thrilled roommate refers to a Kevin Spacey film.

But "This Is Us" producer 20th Century Fox Television said it decided to remove Spacey's name, citing "recent events." Viewers instead heard the project called "a Christian Bale movie."

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, actor Anthony Rapp alleged Spacey made sexual advances toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14. Spacey has said he doesn't remember the alleged encounter detailed by BuzzFeed News last weekend.

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3:10 a.m.

Police in Beverly Hills say they are investigating complaints against disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein and writer-director James Toback.

The Beverly Hills police department did not specify the nature of the assault complaints, but Tuesday's announcement comes less than a month after numerous women accused Weinstein of sexually harassing them at hotels in the city in an expose by the New York Times.

Toback has been accused by hundreds of women of sexual harassment. Toback does not currently have a representative.

Weinstein's representative Sallie Hofmeister did not immediately comment on the new investigation. She has said Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Netflix has suspended production on its final season of "House of Cards" amid allegations star Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance on actor Anthony Rapp when he was 14.

 
 
 

 

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