Hollywood has recently been grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons after X-Men director Bryan Singer was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in the late nineties. With statements and accusations flying around the media, we wanted to clear up exactly what the facts are and what the implications to all of this may be.
On April 16th it was reported that Michael Egan had filed a lawsuit against Bryan Singer for a string of assaults from the late 1990s, when Egan was just 15. Variety reported that the claims also implicated Marc Collins-Rector, a former Hollywood executive who has a history of sexual offences to his name. Egan claims the two men committed sexual acts without consent at a mansion. He also claims he informed the FBI who did not take the case further.
Several days after these claims became public, The Daily Mail reported news that Egan had been working with Oscar nominated documentary filmmaker Amy Berg. Having made a film about sex abuse in the catholic church, she had spent the last two years speaking to Egan about his experiences in order to make a film exposing key figures in Hollywood.
Three more Hollywood executives have since been named in connection with these initial allegations, while someone else has now filed a separate suit against Singer. Fox, who produced X-Men: Days of Future Past with Singer, made a hasty public statement, calling the whole affair “a person matter. A spokesman said “these are serious allegations, and they will be resolved in the appropriate forum”, while Singer’s lawyer and later the man himself have publicly refuted the claim as completely untrue.
So what is really going on here, and what will it mean for Bryan Singer, Fox, and Hollywood at large?
Bryan Singer will no doubt suffer. Even if he continues getting job offers, which is unlikely for the time being, his time will be consumed by the public relations nightmare of containing the story as much as possible. It’s already out there, and whether he has done it or not the accusation is all that’s needed to ruin the career of any public figure. Fox are clearly hedging their bets; they have much more to lose.
The studio need to carefully balance their public handling of this case, on the one hand continuing to promote their latest superhero blockbuster but on the other hand not wanting to directly endorse Singer, just in case. Referring to the affair as a personal matter distances themselves from Singer the man accused, while allowing them to continue a professional relationship as far as X-Men is concerned. Once this film has hit theatres they may take a different stance. Don’t be surprised if his next film is indefinitely in development.
However, what is most concerning is the growing murmurs that something much more widespread is occurring in Hollywood. Of course it should be exposed, and of course if Amy Berg’s documentary is on to something we want to see it as much as the next guy, but the unfortunate catch 22 is that the more of Hollywood’s bigwigs are implicated, the more the studios will likely avoid the project and the less people are likely to see it.
It will be a long long time before anything else can be reported on the issue. Bryan Singer and others will be working hard to clear their name, and right now none of us are in a position to argue their guilt or their innocence. What we can say for certain is if he is found guilty, a huge can of Hollywood worms will be opened and God knows where it will stop. Anyone who watched the BBC Jimmy Saville scandal unfold will be on edge to see just how far this goes, and if there really is any truth to the claims.