In the wake of allegations of longstanding abuse—both physical and emotional—and intimidation, producer Scott Rudin has announced that he will step away from his Broadway productions, effective immediately.
“After a period of reflection, I’ve made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately,” Rudin wrote in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “My roles will be filled by others from the Broadway community and in a number of cases, from the roster of participants already in place on those shows.”
He added: “Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly,” I am now taking steps that I should have taken years ago to address this behavior.”
Rudin declined to comment further on the specifics of his future involvement or lack thereof, including the financial implications of his departure from the productions (which include Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird and the upcoming revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster).
The industry titan's announcement arrives following demands from members of the theatre community for accountability, with arts workers noting the industry's relative silence on the behavior detailed in The Hollywood Reporter's April 7 exposé. The hesitant reaction from those with perceived power was seen as an indication of Rudin's monumental influence and reach within the commercial theatre realm, beyond even his own productions.
In the days immediately following the initial report, some executives and artists—including producer Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison, actor-playwright Heidi Schreck, and performers Anthony Rapp and Amber Iman, expressed solidarity with those (primarily former assistants of Rudin) who came forward. Iman, who appeared in the Rudin-produced Shuffle Along... in 2016, did so from the stage of the Broadway Theatre during a concert presented as part of the stage government's NY PopsUp initiative, of which Rudin is a lead organizer.
Karen Olivo, who had starred in Broadway's Moulin Rouge! up until the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, announced they would not return to the musical upon its eventual reopening, offering the mantra: "Building a better industry is more important than putting money in my pockets." Their statement, shared as an Instagram video, called the industry response to the Rudin allegations "unacceptable," but also signaled that problem does not begin or end with him (Rudin is not a producer on Moulin Rouge!). "I don't need to be on a stage," Olivo added. "I need to be out here...I value humanity more; I want a theatre industry that matches my integrity."
Olivo, along with fellow performer Eden Espinosa through their organization AFECT (Artists for Economic Transparency), are part of a growing movement to rally for transparency from Actors’ Equity Association. The union issued a joint statement with two other performers’ unions that denounced harassment and toxic work environments, albeit without mentioning Rudin or any other producer by name. With the union reaching out to members with reminders about paying dues, a “March on Broadway” has been scheduled for April 21. Among the demands: that Rudin be placed on the union’s “Do Not Work” list (a move primarily used following failed contract negotiations between the union and producers or theatre companies) and disclosure of organizations Equity is working with to ensure safety for BIPOC members.
In response to Rudin's announcement, Equity said that the producer should release staff members from nondisclosure agreements, calling the potential move "an important step in creating truly safe and harassment-free theatrical workplaces on Broadway and beyond."
Rudin's current and upcoming Broadway projects also include the long-running The Book of Mormon, the Ivo van Hove-helmed revival of West Side Story, and a revival of Our Town. He was also billed as a producer on The Lehman Trilogy and The Inheritance.