Five women have accused comedian, writer, and actor Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct. The report, published yesterday afternoon in the New York Times, confirmed years of whispers in the comedy world about C.K.’s predilection for masturbating in front of female comics and writers against their will.
The Times story was written by Melena Ryzik, Cara Buckley, and Jodi Kantor. Kantor was also one of the writers who broke the paper’s bombshell Harvey Weinstein story – another piece of meticulous investigative work that finally put long-standing industry whispers on the record. And as with Weinstein, C.K.’s people saw it coming; the New York premiere of his new film I Love You, Daddy was cancelled just hours ahead of time, as was an appearance on last night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
C.K. has not yet responded to the story – his publicist responded to the paper’s interview request with a terse “Louis is not going to answer any questions” – but, as per usual, the response has been swift. HBO, which aired several of C.K’s specials and his first series Lucky Louie, announced Thursday he would “no longer be participating” in this year’s edition of the Night of Too Many Stars benefit, which will be held November 18. The network is also “removing Louis C.K.’s past projects from its On Demand services.”
As for I Love You, Daddy, which already seemed (to put it mildly) ill-timed, distributor The Orchard is “giving careful consideration to the timing and release of the film and continuing to review the situation.” It was slated for release in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago one week from today.
Obviously, there’s a lot to be said about this story, but for now, we’ll let other, better writers say it; perhaps give a glance to Emily Nussbaum’s thoughts here, or Alison Willmore’s here, or Matt Zoller Seitz’s here. But the headline and lede of the latter seem to sum it up best: Louis C.K. is done.
UPDATED 1:28pm: Louis C.K. has released a statement:
I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not. These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position. I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it. There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with. I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work. The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie and every other entity that has bet on me through the years. I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother. I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen. Thank you for reading.