John Oliver corners Dustin Hoffman over sexual harassment claims: There was no point in her lying
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John Oliver corners Dustin Hoffman over sexual harassment claims: There was no point in her lying

John Oliver grilled Dustin Hoffman about the sexual misconduct allegations against him at a panel discussion on Monday which turned quite hostile.

hollywood Updated: Dec 06, 2017 10:59 IST
Associated Press
John Oliver,Dustin Hoffman,Jon Oliver Panel Discussion
Jon Oliver is being praised online for confront Dustin Hoffman about the sexual assault allegations.

Wag the Dog’s 20th anniversary celebrations turned testy on Monday at a panel discussion when moderator John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about allegations of sexual harassment against the actor.

The back-and-forth came at a 20th-anniversary screening panel at the 92nd Street Y. Onstage in addition to Oliver and Hoffman were Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson.

Hoffman seemed blindsided and defensive by the line of questioning from the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Oliver said the matter was “something we’re going to have to talk about” because “it’s hanging in the air.”

Hoffman replied incredulously: “It’s hanging in the air? From a few things you’ve read you’ve made an incredible assumption about me. You’ve made the case better than anyone else can. I’m guilty.”

Actor Anna Graham Hunter has alleged that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman. In a statement, Hoffman had said: “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.”

Oliver grilled Hoffman for his choice of words: “I’m not the moral arbiter of anything. It’s just that, ‘it’s not reflective of who I am’ — it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off. Because it is reflective of who you were, if it happened, and you’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen, then there was a period in time, for a while, when you were creepier around women. So it feels like a cop-out to say, well, this isn’t me. Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”

HBO host John Oliver took Dustin Hoffman, 80, to task during a debate organized in New York for the 20th anniversary of the film Wag the Dog. The movie about a presidential sex scandal starred Hoffman as well as Robert De Niro and Anne Heche. (AFP)

Hoffman answered: “It’s difficult to answer that question. You weren’t there.” To which Oliver said: “I’m glad.”

Oliver also talked about a portion from Hunter’s essay in which she said that even though Dustin is a ‘pig’, she still ‘liked him a lot’.

Hoffman asked if Oliver believed Hunter and everything she wrote to which Oliver replied that he did. Hoffman asked him why when Oliver told him: “Because there’s no point in her lying.” To which, Hoffman said: “Well, there is a point in her not bringing this up for 40 years.”

Oliver was quite disappointed at these words and gave a disheartened reply: “Oh, Dustin”.

The conversation then went on to another groping accusation levied against the actor by The Graduate co-star Katharine Ross that he had groped her on the set of the film. Hoffman recited the entire incident to the audience and called Ross’ reaction an ‘overreaction’ to the ‘things we do between takes’ to break the monotony in a 16-hour work day. Oliver noted that his description of the episode doesn’t match hers and maybe Hollywood needs a cultural shift when it comes to ‘things we do between takes.’

The exchange was reported by The Washington Post, which also posted a video of part of the conversation.

Social media is now singing Oliver’s praises since the story came out, calling his confrontation of Hoffman the ideal response expected from men in the current atmosphere.

(with agency inputs)

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First Published: Dec 06, 2017 10:50 IST