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House of Cards production halted by Netflix amid Kevin Spacey sexual assault allegations

Netflx suspended production on the final season of House of Cards amid sexual assault allegations against star Kevin Spacey.

tv Updated: Nov 01, 2017 08:32 IST
This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey in a scene from House Of Cards.
This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey in a scene from House Of Cards. (AP)

Hollywood’s widening sexual harassment crisis brought forth a second actor’s allegation against Kevin Spacey on Tuesday, halted production on his Netflix series House of Cards and prompted CBS to check into an actor’s claim she was groped by Jeremy Piven.

Mexican actor Robert Cavazos wrote on his Facebook page that he encountered Spacey at the bar of London’s Old Vic Theatre, where Spacey was artistic director, and the actor tried to fondle him against his will.

“It was more common for this guy, when he was in the bar of his theatre, grabbing whoever caught his attention,” Cavazos wrote. “I didn’t stand for it, but I know some people who were afraid to stop it.”

Cavazos declined an interview request. There was no immediate reply to a request for comment from representatives for Spacey, who was artistic director from 2004-15.

In a statement Tuesday, the theatre expressed “deep dismay” at the allegations and said “inappropriate behaviour by anyone working at The Old Vic is completely unacceptable.”

Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series House of Cards at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. (REUTERS)

In recent days, Hollywood has reacted swiftly to allegations of sexual harassment and assault: Harvey Weinstein was fired from the company he founded within days after initial reports of sexual harassment were published in The New York Times earlier this month.

On Monday, Netflix said it would end House of Cards after its upcoming sixth and final season, although the streaming network said the decision was made before the BuzzFeed News report on Spacey last weekend. The network has not commented on plans for a Gore Vidal biopic starring Spacey that is currently in production.

The pause in production Tuesday shadows the fate of the last season.

Also Tuesday, CBS said it is “looking into” a claim by actor and reality star Ariane Bellamar that Emmy-winning Entourage star Piven groped her on two occasions.

On her Twitter account Monday, Bellamar alleged that one encounter took place in Piven’s trailer on HBO’s Entourage set and the other occurred at the Playboy Mansion.

Piven, who stars in the new CBS series Wisdom of the Crowd, said in a statement that he “unequivocally” denies the “appalling allegations being peddled about me.”

“It did not happen. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to come forward with their histories, and my hope is that the allegations about me that didn’t happen, do not detract from stories that should be heard,” he said.

In a Monday interview with The Associated Press, Piven said he was glad people had come forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein and that he had never been in that situation.

HBO, which aired the 2004-11 series, said in a statement that it was unaware of Bellamar’s allegations until they were reported by media.

“Everyone at HBO and our productions is aware that zero tolerance for sexual harassment is our policy. Anyone experiencing an unsafe working environment has several avenues for making complaints that we take very seriously,” the channel said.

Bellamar’s credits include Suicide Squad and The Hangover Part III and the reality series Beverly Hills Nannies.

Netflix’s actions involving House of Cards are rare in an industry that puts commerce first.

How Spacey’s cast mates are reacting to the allegations remains to be seen. Robin Wright, who stars opposite Spacey as his wife, hasn’t commented publicly, but her Twitter feed includes a number of posts backing social issues including female rights and education.

Netflix and House of Cards producer Media Rights Capital had already decided to end the series at the end of next season, its sixth, but on Tuesday they chose to pause the production, which is filmed in Baltimore, “to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew.” Spacey was not scheduled to work that day.

The move comes after actor Anthony Rapp came forward with claims Spacey made inappropriate sexual advances toward him in 1986, when he was 14.

Production of next season's award-winning House of Cards season six has been suspended indefinitely in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against its star Kevin Spacey, Netflix announced on October 31, 2017. (AFP)

Spacey responded by saying he doesn’t remember the alleged encounter but if he acted the way Rapp alleges, “I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” He also spoke publicly for the first time about being gay, which draw backlash from some observers as an attempt at deflection.

The fallout for Spacey also included the loss of an award he was going to get later this month by The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The group says “it will not honour Kevin Spacey with the 2017 International Emmy Founders Award,” which is to honour “an individual who crosses cultural boundaries to touch humanity.” Spacey was to get it at a gala on November 20 in New York City. Past recipients include Rhimes, Steven Spielberg, and JJ Abrams.

A release date for the final House of Cards episodes has yet to be announced. Netflix is developing a possible spinoff of the award-winning drama that helped put the streaming service on the TV series map.

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