In an encounter that's been aptly described as something straight out of a movie, actor Terry Crews recently confronted the head of William Morris Endeavor, Ari Emanuel, about his decision not to fire agent Adam Venit, whom Crews is suing for allegedly sexually assaulting him at a party in February 2016. Clearly anticipating Emanuel's reluctance to ax one of his top agents, Crews came prepared to creatively highlight Emanuel's hypocritical handling of the situation.
Deadline reports that Crews filed a nine-claim complaint on Monday against the powerful talent agency and Venit, the former head of its Motion Picture Group. Both Emanuel and fellow company head Patrick Whitesell, Crews alleges, have turned a blind eye to Venit's pattern of "sexual predatory behavior." Crews made headlines soon after the Harvey Weinstein allegations began streaming in by posting his account of Venit (whom he originally did not name) allegedly grabbing his genitals in an egregiously sexual manner at a party.
"Crews is informed and believes that Venit has a long history of bizarre behavior and has engaged in prior sexual predatory acts all of which WME was fully aware," the complaint reads. "Yet, WME did not take any action to deal with Venit’s misconduct and allowed him to prey on WME clients, like Crews."
While Crews' decision to "hold WME accountable for its conduct in condoning, ratifying, and encouraging Venit’s sexual predatory behavior" is obviously the most newsworthy aspect of the story, as Hot Air's John Sexton highlights, the most incredible part is how Crews presented his case to Emanuel. "The showdown between Crews and Emanuel is like a scene from a movie," writes Sexton.
When Emanuel told Crews that he would not punish Venit for his alleged sexual assault on him, Crews pulled out a letter Emanuel published in the Huffington Post back in 2006 (the complaint incorrectly says 2011). Here’s an excerpt from the complaint:
Then Crews pulled out a letter which Emanuel himself had written for the Huffington Post in 2011, demanding Mel Gibson be blacklisted from Hollywood for anti-Semitic remarks. The letter was harsh and to the point. It read:
"I wish Mel Gibson well in dealing with his alcoholism, but alcoholism does not excuse racism and anti-Semitism. It is one thing when marginal figures with no credibility make anti-Semitic statements. It is a completely different thing when a figure of Mel Gibson’s stature does so. [...]
"Now we know the truth. And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over. People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.
"There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money."
Crews took the letter, crossed out Mel Gibson’s name and replaced it with “Adam Venit”. And, for every mention of anti-Semitism, Crews replaced it with “sexual assault.” Crews then asked Emanuel to read his own letter with the replaced words and told him that, after reading it, there should be not question what Emanuel should do—fire Adam Venit.
Shockingly, Emanuel told Crews that the situations were different because one was in a corporate setting and the other on a highway in Malibu.
The bold, theatrical move didn't work, but Crews has officially cemented himself in Hollywood and #MeToo lore for the effort.
As for Crews' allegations against Venit, he provided more details in the complaint about the alleged incident, including Venit staring at him "like a rabid dog, sticking his tongue in and out of his mouth provocatively" before grabbing Crews' genitals repeatedly.
Below is the full text of Crews' original allegation, which he laid out in a series of tweets on October 10:
This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to ME.
My wife n I were at a Hollywood function last year n a high level Hollywood executive came over 2 me and groped my privates. Jumping back I said What are you doing?! My wife saw everything n we looked at him like he was crazy. He just grinned like a jerk.
I was going to kick his ass right then— but I thought twice about how the whole thing would appear. “240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho” would be the headline the next day. Only I probably wouldn’t have been able to read it because I WOULD HAVE BEEN IN JAIL. So we left.
That night and the next day I talked to everyone I knew that worked with him about what happened. He called me the next day with an apology but never really explained why he did what he did.
I decided not 2 take it further becuz I didn’t want 2b ostracized— par 4 the course when the predator has power n influence. I let it go. And I understand why many women who this happens to let it go. Who’s going 2 believe you? ( few) What r the repercussions?(many) Do u want 2 work again? (Yes) R you prepared 2b ostracized?(No)
I love what I do. But it’s a shame and the height of disappointment when someone tries to takes advantage of that. He knows who he is. But sumtimes Uhav2 wait & compare notes w/ others who’ve been victimized in order 2gain a position of strength.
I understand and empathize with those who have remained silent. But Harvey Weinstein is not the only perpetrator. Hollywood is not the only business we’re this happens, and to the casualties of this behavior— you are not alone. Hopefully, me coming forward with my story will deter a predator and encourage someone who feels hopeless.