Lisa hits back at Richard Dreyfuss
CHANNEL 10 star Lisa Wilkinson has hit back at veteran Hollywood actor Richard Dreyfuss, who slammed her in a sensational rant earlier this week.
The bitter back-and-forth started after Ms Wilkinson's interview with Mr Dreyfuss on The Sunday Project, during which she brought up an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour that had been levelled against him.
"I sinned," he told her in response. "Between the years of '79 and '82 or '83 I was a lowdown dirty dog. And I did lots of things that I'm ashamed of now. But they were all culturally supported, as all men know … and as all women know. They just don't want to remember it that way."
Mr Dreyfuss clearly felt aggrieved. Appearing on the Channel 9 morning show Today Extra on Thursday, he spent several bizarre minutes reading a prepared statement about the interview.
A visibly emotional Mr Dreyfuss lashed out at Ms Wilkinson and her co-stars as hosts David Campbell and Sonia Kruger sat in awkward silence.
We wrote to Mr Dreyfuss’ publicist 3days prior to our Sunday @theprojecttv i/v informing we would ask about #metoo allegations against him & his statement. If he didn’t want to discuss it, we were happy to have Kathleen Turner alone. We were assured in writing he was OK with it. https://t.co/59fqHhwKF4— Lisa Wilkinson (@Lisa_Wilkinson) June 21, 2018
"I was mugged the other night in Sydney, Australia. Not by a petty thief but by the host and hostesses of a talk show called The Project," he said.
"They chose to commit a breach of ethical behaviour, meant to be malignant and sly and known as wrong by every journalist in the world, unless you're talking to someone who you're trying to entrap because you think that he's a murderer or a rapist."
Mr Dreyfuss claimed The Sunday Project had led him to believe it would be a "light, friendly chat" before springing the serious question on him.
Ten, on the other hand, said it had warned his publicist the question was coming days earlier.
Now Ms Wilkinson has responded to the furore at greater length, publishing an open letter to the actor on Ten Daily.
The letter begins with Ms Wilkinson thanking Mr Dreyfuss for his "fine body of work over the years".
"Personally, I loved you in American Graffiti, Close Encounters, and of course in the iconic Jaws. My favourite, though, was your 1978 Oscar-winning performance in The Goodbye Girl, with its messages of female empowerment directed at young impressionable girls at the time, like me, still trying to work out our place in the world, and what it is to become a strong woman and not be pushed around," she writes.
"Which brings me to your curious performance on Thursday on the Nine Network, accusing me of 'mugging' you with my question which gently, respectfully and tangentially referred to the #metoo allegations made about you last November by one of your former female colleagues, Jessica Teich."
Ms Teich claimed Mr Dreyfuss had harassed her during the 1980s, making lewd comments and exposing himself to her in his trailer.
He denied the allegations, but also released a statement expressing regret for his behaviour during those years.
"I became an asshole. I lived by the motto, 'If you don't flirt, you die'. And flirt I did. I flirted with all women, be they actresses, producers, or 80-year-old grandmothers. I even flirted with those who were out of bounds, like the wives of some of my best friends, which especially revolts me," he admitted.
Ms Wilkinson says she was asking Mr Dreyfuss about that statement.
"I will never know if those accusations are true. But in the wake of the rising #metoo movement, you clearly felt mortified enough by your past behaviour to release a statement of revealing candour," she says.
"I raised none of the specifics of the unproven allegations made by Jessica Teich, but simply inquired about exactly when that enlightenment regarding your self-confessed revolting behaviour came? Was it at the time it was happening, or only when it made headlines around the world last year?"
She then proceeds to take him to task for his answer to her question on The Sunday Project, particularly the part where he said his "sins" were "culturally supported".
"Ummmm, sorry? 'Culturally supported'? What does that even mean? That everyone - very conveniently for the powerful perpetrators - stayed silent?" Ms Wilkinson writes.
"Did it ever occur to you that all those women just went along with your 'lowdown dirty dog' behaviour because to do anything else, when you were without question one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, may have resulted in serious repercussions for them? And that it was just easier to acquiesce because that was what survival for women in a deeply entrenched boys' club looks like?
"Did it ever occur to you, Mr Dreyfuss, that the so-called 'cultural support' you say these women displayed was just fear that if they spoke up, not only would they not be believed but that they would never work in Hollywood again?
"Do you get that this abuse of the power imbalance, and the harassment of women - and men for that matter, as your very own son showed in his allegations against Kevin Spacey - is actually what the whole #metoo movement seeks to address? And now you want to play the victim?"
Ms Wilkinson concludes by shooting down Mr Dreyfuss's claims of an ambush, saying The Sunday Project did warn him and has "the email chain to prove it".
"You were not ambushed on our show. You were not mugged. And we were not unethical," she says.
"As a journalist I make no apology for courteously asking an entirely legitimate question about a subject you had spoken of before and which has generated more headlines than anything you've done in the last 20 years.
"Your answer on Sunday night was informative and enlightening. And we thanked you for it. But I fear that your dummy spit and ramblings on the Nine Network on Thursday undermine your initial open and enlightened stance."