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Director Bryan Singer Faces New Scrutiny Over Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct


Director Bryan Singer, whose latest film "Bohemian Rhapsody" is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, is facing new scrutiny over allegations of sexual misconduct including rape. An expose published today in The Atlantic includes on-the-record accounts from young men who were underage at the time of the incidents they describe, yet another turn in what has become a very long line of very powerful men in Hollywood reckoning with allegations of sexual misconduct. Here to talk more about this is Kim Masters. She is host of member station KCRW's The Business and editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter. Kim Masters, welcome.


KELLY: First, just for people who may not know Bryan Singer, he is a big name in Hollywood - right? - a top-tier director.

MASTERS: Yeah. I think he really broke through for a lot of people with "The Usual Suspects," which was a very well-received movie. And then he went on to do the X-Men movies, which are the kind of thing that put you in this A-list of directors because they are big box office draws. So he had the kind of arthouse type of movie as well as the big franchise movies.

KELLY: Now, he denies having sex with underage boys. His lawyer points out in the article he has never been charged with any crime. Can you give me a sense of just the array of allegations he is facing?

MASTERS: There is a group of men now who describe being assaulted by Bryan Singer when they were underage, one as young as 13, in pretty graphic terms. In some cases, it's presented as that they were, you know, participating, but when you are underage, that's still rape.

KELLY: Without consent, yeah. I should mention your own involvement in trying to break this story. Back in December of 2017, you broke the story that Singer had been fired from directing "Bohemian Rhapsody" even before filming had completely finished. How much did you know about the why?

MASTERS: Well, everyone knew that Bryan Singer at that point was a troubled proposition. He was known to vanish off of movie sets. Warner Brothers had problems with him before on other movies before Fox took him on on "Bohemian Rhapsody." These are things that he's been able to somehow fend off, and it's given cover to people to do business with him. But Fox knew going in that he was troubled. And they were very strictly telling him, you need to show up on time and you. And he was told explicitly don't break the law, which is kind of extraordinary when you think about it. And nonetheless, at one point, he did not want to show up, and they did fire him. And that's extraordinary, especially that close to the end of a shoot.

KELLY: Here's what I'm wrestling with is that we're sitting here in 2019, so a year and a half into the #MeToo movement. And yet here's yet another story that - it sounds like everybody in Hollywood knew, that was yet another open secret in the mold of Harvey Weinstein.

MASTERS: It is disheartening. These open secrets and the tolerance of them is a disturbing thing. And it's not as though this is the last story like this that's going to emerge.

KELLY: Why is it that they're so hard to report?

MASTERS: Because people are terrified to come forward. I mean, you have to bear in mind, this is an industry where there is so much money. And some of these young men in the Atlantic article come from disadvantaged backgrounds, not a lot of access to the kind of glamour and wealth that Bryan Singer could open the door to. So this is an industry that is rife with opportunities for abuse given what Hollywood offers. And it is going to be a huge challenge to clean up the culture...

KELLY: Even now, even this far into the #MeToo movement, that culture persists.

MASTERS: Yes. I'm watching a year-plus in. I'm still reporting these stories myself. And you feel the culture resisting change.

KELLY: Kim Masters, host of member station KCRW's The Business and editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter. Kim Masters, thank you.

MASTERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kim Masters
Kim Masters covers the business of entertainment for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She joined NPR in 2003.