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After reports that the Hollywood women’s organization, Time’s Up, advised disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on a letter intended to discredit a former staffer who has accused him of sexual harassment, stars associated with the group have stayed largely quiet.
Among the many famous women who have proudly touted their membership in Time’s Up are Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Brie Larson, Amy Schumer, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Kerry Washington, and Reese Witherspoon.
Witherspoon, in particular, heavily promoted the organization, telling Marie Claire magazine in 2018, “I’ve been working very hard on the initiative Time’s Up with more than 400 women in my industry. We are raising money for women in a variety of workplaces to have better resources for on-the-job-harassment lawsuits. We are trying to level the playing field for all women and men who have suffered from discrimination, harassment and abuse.”
Yet as of Friday afternoon, Witherspoon has said nothing publicly about the New York Attorney General’s bombshell revelation Tuesday that two Time’s Up leaders consulted with Cuomo on a letter undermining Lindsey Boylan’s claims that he touched her inappropriately and tried to kiss her.
Neither have “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria or super-producer Shonda Rhimes, both of whom sit on Time’s Up’s board.
Longoria told Variety in 2019 that the group has been looking for ways to influence politics:
We’re trying to figure out what is Time’s Up’s role in these elections, and how can we have an impact … The great thing that has happened out of the Me Too movement and Time’s Up is that women are talking to each other. We have now this wonderful sisterhood and community of information.
But since the news broke three days ago, the actress has not addressed the organization’s involvement with Cuomo. Posts on her social media accounts since that time have focused on wishing former President Barack Obama a happy birthday and celebrating farm workers. She has also posted several selfies.
In fact, none of the celebrities listed above has so far offered any public comment on Time’s Up’s communications with Cuomo’s office or the assistance they provided him in his attempts to discredit Boylan.
A Time’s Up spokesperson didn’t deny CEO and President Tina Tchen and co-founder Roberta Kaplan suggested the governor make edits to the letter. But in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the representative argued that their contribution didn’t in any way undermine the organization’s stated mission to “fight for a future where no one is harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against at work.”
“Before any allegations were made against Governor Cuomo, in 2019, Time’s Up worked with his administration to pass the Time’s Up/NY Safety Agenda. In December 2020, Tina was asked to give her perspective on a public response to Ms. Boylan’s allegations,” the spokesperson said. “Although Tina made no recommendations as to what he should do, she shared the stance Time’s Up has always taken in these matters. She was clear that any response coming from the Governor’s office addressing the allegations would be insufficient and unacceptable if it did not acknowledge the experiences of the women who came forward, and that it should in no way shame or discredit the women.”
Actress Alyssa Milano, who has also assumed a prominent role with the group, wrote in a first-person Rolling Stone essay in 2018, “The most important thing to me was that Time’s Up wouldn’t just represent the voice of my industry but it needed to represent every woman’s voice because that’s what #MeToo has always been about.” She went on, “So in this hubbub of actors and entertainment industry leaders uniting and coming together to create Time’s Up, I want us to be mindful of supporting the victims in the workplace … ”
While the “Who’s the Boss” actress has called on Governor Cuomo to resign, she, too, has not distanced herself from Time’s Up despite pointed criticism from her former “Charmed” co-star Rose McGowan.
Remember when Hollywood actresses and paid-off activists wore stupid black dresses at the Oscars? That was sponsored by Time’s Up who were meant to help abuse victims. I told the world they are a lie 3+ years ago. I was mocked & harassed by so many who want to believe the illusion. Wake up. Hard truths are inconvenient & uncomfortable. So what, suck it up. Milano, TimesUp, fake performatives and profiteers. Alyssa’s statement at the time was gaslighting in full effect. She said of my truth-telling “Hurt people hurt people.” No, Alyssa, it’s lizard people like you, SDK Knickerbocker, Gov Cuomo, the Pres, Tina Chen who hurt people. Your time is up. Exit stage left.
This isn’t the first evidence that Time’s Up’s activism may be mostly for show. In December, the New York Post broke an exclusive story titled, “Star-studded Time’s Up charities spent big on salaries, little on helping victims.”
The Post revealed that in 2018, its first year in operation, Time’s Up took in nearly $4 million but spent only around $300,000 on the victims of sexual harassment. The story then detailed the inner workings of the group, which highlighted very different activities from its public-facing goals:
Time’s Up Now, the lobbying arm of the organization, also spent $157,155 on conferences ‘designed to build community and spark critical conversations about gender equity,’ tax filings show. In June 2018, the group co-sponsored a retreat at the Ojai Valley Inn, a luxury resort and spa north of Los Angeles. The retreat was dominated by agents from the Creative Artists Agency, who apparently had difficulty deciding on what the core mission should be.
“It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house,” Rhimes said in a full page 2018 ad in The New York Times announcing the founding of Time’s Up. Yet so far, there are no indications Rhimes and her fellow Hollywood power players plan to take a scrub brush to the organization they helped establish.