Another woman has accused Dustin Hoffman of sexual harassment.
On Wednesday, Variety revealed that TV producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis had quite the unsavory experience with the celebrated actor back when she was just a struggling playwright. According to Riss Gatsiounis, Hoffman and Tootsie screenwriter Murray Schisgal expressed an interest in her play, A Darker Purpose, after it had a stage reading in NYC in 1991.
As Dustin and Murray claimed they were eager to adapt the play into a film script, Wendy was more than thrilled to accept the meeting. Sadly, her encounters with the industry vet at his Punch Productions office were less than professional. Allegedly, the then 53-year-old propositioned the 20-something up-and-comer and invited her to a nearby hotel.
Ugh. While Hoffman’s people declined to comment on the story, Schisgal told the publication:
“Dustin Hoffman and I took many meetings with writers and playwrights over many years. I have no recollection of this meeting or of any of the behavior or actions described.”
Just because you forgot about it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Per Riss Gatsiounis’ account, Murray was the one who first made things uncomfortable when he asked about her relationship status. Wendy recalled:
“Dustin Hoffman was playfully like, ├óΓé¼╦£Murray, shut up. Don’t you know you can’t talk to women that way anymore? Times are changing.'”
The collaborators then shifted the conversation back to business and asked the playwright to rework her pitch. She obliged and, three weeks later, returned with a revised draft. Unfortunately, Wendy never got to discuss her idea with the industry heavyweights:
“I go in, and this time it’s, like, Dustin Hoffman’s really different. He says, ├óΓé¼╦£Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?'”
The accuser attempted to laugh off the proposition, but Hoffman persisted on the topic. She continued:
“I’ll never forget ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ he moves back, he opens his arms, and he says, ├óΓé¼╦£It would be a whole new body to explore.’ I’m trying to go back to my pitch, and I’m trying to talk about my play. Then Dustin Hoffman gets up and he says he has to do some clothing shopping at a nearby hotel, and did I want to come along? He’s like, ├óΓé¼╦£Come on, come to this nearby hotel.'”
Ew, ew, ewwwww. Reportedly, Murray encouraged Wendy to go with Dustin:
“I’m just completely flustered. I don’t know what to make of this whole thing. And Murray’s like, ├óΓé¼╦£You can go! It’s okay, go! Go!'”
Schisgal sounds like some creepy wingman. After declining the invitation many times, Wendy remembered:
“And Dustin Hoffman finally leaves, because I’m saying I don’t want to go to the hotel. And then Murray Schisgal says, ├óΓé¼╦£Look, we’re not really interested in your play, because it’s too film noir-ish.’ And that was it.”
Simply despicable. Understandably, Wendy left the meeting “close to tears” and called her agent, the late Mary Meagher. Upon learning what had happened to her client, Mary assured Wendy it wasn’t anything the writer had done as she “had heard rumors about him for years.”
Two friends close to Riss Gatsiounis verified her version of what went down. On how the incident stayed with her, Wendy explained:
“The whole thing was just a source of torment for me. I was just this writer and he had been my hero, and it stayed with me for a long time… It was one voice in my head saying, ├óΓé¼╦£I was such an idiot. I should have just gone.’ And the other voice in my head saying, ├óΓé¼╦£Well, clearly he just wasn’t interested [in the play]. Why don’t you just realize he just wasn’t interested?'”
Poor thing. Although Wendy stayed quiet about Dustin for some time, she felt the Harvey Weinstein scandal made it possible for her to speak her truth.
This is the second harassment claim to come out against the Rain Man star. Earlier this week, actress Anna Graham Hunter claimed Dustin harassed and assaulted her on the Death of a Salesman set when she was a 17-year-old intern.
We couldn’t be prouder of these women for speaking up.
[Image via IPA/WENN.]