Fraser groping incident investigated

EVER since the October 2017 New York Times report on the dozens of women allegedly sexually abused by media mogul Harvey Weinstein was published, more and more women have come forward to accuse over a hundred high-profile men of sexual misconduct. The accused have three things in common: they are in power, they are white and they are male.

But actor Brendan Fraser, a powerful white man in Hollywood, said that he had been abused too. And that prompted him to take a sabbatical from Hollywood.

GQ magazine recently published a feature article: “Whatever happened to Brendan Fraser?”

The article mostly discussed the 49-year-old actor’s current life. But in the middle of the story, the “The Mummy” actor recounted a Hollywood encounter that he wished he could just forget.

According to GQ, it was the summer of 2003 and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group behind the Golden Globes, hosted a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

While Fraser was on his way out of the hotel, he was reportedly accosted by former HFPA president Philip Berk.

“His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around,” Fraser told GQ of the incident that had him panicked and fearful.

The incident had already been reported, with Berk himself recounting the incident in his memoir. But Berk said he did so in jest.

Fraser said he removed Berk’s hand: “I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry. I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me.”

GQ sought a comment from Berk, who said, “Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication.”

But the HFPA is investigating the matter.

A statement from the HFPA said the interview “includes alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of” and that it is looking into the accusation. It also stressed that the organization has long had what it calls “a positive working relationship” with Fraser.

But in the GQ article, it seemed like HFPA was aware of the incident.

Fraser’s representatives had asked HFPA for a written apology. Berk admitted he wrote a letter to Fraser but without admitting any wrongdoing.

Fraser also said that the HFPA agreed not to allow Berk in the same room with Fraser again.

“I was blaming myself and I was miserable—because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel.’ That summer wore on—and I can’t remember what I went on to work on next.”

Fraser said he was no longer invited to HFPA events after he complained about Berk. And that also made him retreat from the Hollywood life.

But Berk fought back: “His career declined through no fault of ours.”

Fraser lauded the actresses who had the courage to publicly accuse Weinstein of harassment.

“I know Rose (McGowan). I know Ashley (Judd). I know Mira (Sorvino)—I’ve worked with them. I haven’t spoken to them in years, but they’re my friends. I watched this wonderful movement, these people with the courage to say what I didn’t have the courage to say,” said Fraser.

Fraser works with Sorvino in the television series “Condor,” which is set to premiere in June. He also worked with Judd in the 1995 psychological drama “The Passion of Darkly Noon.” Fraser and McGowan, meanwhile, worked in two movies together: “Encino Man” (1992) and “Monkeybone” (2001).

Fraser is not the first actor to complain of harassment. Terry Crews didn’t just publicly reveal the assault against him, he actually filed a suit.

Sharing the GQ article, Crews tweeted: “Brendan is amazingly courageous in telling this. His assault experience is extremely similar to mine—ending with the assailant explaining away his actions. One man’s ‘horseplay’ is another man’s humiliation.”

Crews filed a suit against Adam Venit, the longtime head of WME’s motion picture group, for allegedly groping him in a 2016 event.

Fraser also enjoys the support of veteran actor James Woods. No, Woods was not sexually assaulted.

Woods also shared Fraser’s GQ interview along with the tweet: “I recommend this interview highly. I, too, was blacklisted by that individual at #HFPA after nine Golden Globe nominations. During a press junket with HFPA, he asked if I would support Hillary Clinton if she ever ran for president. Never nominated again.” (JGA with AP)
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