The Harvey Weinstein scandal is continuing to inspire more and more people to come forward with their own stories about sexual harassment in the movie business, and the Los Angeles Times is now reporting that more than 30 women have come forward with allegations against James Toback, the director of The Pick-Up Artist, Black And White, and Two Girls And A Guy. Toback is also the writer behind The Gambler, and he earned an Oscar nomination for writing Bugsy. Supposedly, he would use his credentials to get the attention of young women hoping to become actors, and he’d allegedly invite them to private interviews or auditions where things “quickly turned sexual” with him asking “humiliating personal questions” about their sex lives. At that point, as the L.A. Times puts it, he’d “dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them, ejaculating into his pants or onto their bodies and then walk away.”
Toback has denied any wrongdoing, telling the L.A. Times that he never met any of the women in question—or only spent five minutes with them and has “no recollection” if he did—and he says that it’s been “biologically impossible” for him to do what he’s been accused of for the last 22 years because he’s had “diabetes and a heart condition that required medication.” The story says that he didn’t offer any more details, but it does note that stories about Toback being a “womanizer” have swirled for decades, including “darker rumors of creepy behavior” that Gawker reported on a few years ago.
As for these allegations, they go back to at least the ‘80s and they all follow the basic format that The L.A. Times lays out, with Toback allegedly inviting women to meetings where he asks invasive questions that are supposedly related to determining if they’ve got what it takes for some possibly non-existent film role. One woman says he “berated her” when she wouldn’t get undressed for him, with Toback allegedly saying she’d never be able to do a “provocative sex scene” in a movie if she didn’t do it. When she gave in, he “began to vigorously rub his groin against her.” Another says that he asked to meet her in Central Park, where he allegedly took her to a “somewhat secluded area” and “began humping her leg.” She didn’t fight him off out of fear that he’d “overpower” her and make things worse.
31 of the 38 women interviewed by The L.A. Times agreed to go on the record, and two of the ones who wouldn’t say that Toback wouldn’t allow them to leave the room he was in until they “grabbed his nipples and looked into his eyes while he masturbated.” One of them is a “well-known actress” who says she met Toback at an audition in 2000. He forced her to undress in front of him and recite a monologue he had given her, and when she couldn’t do it without crying, he allegedly “blocked the hotel room door” and told her that he knows “people that hurt people.” She later refused another request to meet with him, telling her manager not to “ever send another woman to him.”