Hollywood Confidential: My #MeToo Moment

Back in 1994, I was trying to sell my sixth screenplay when it happened. I wrangled a special early-bird breakfast meeting with one of the biggest producers in town. Normally, this would have been impossible, but I set up the meeting by lying about actor Nick Nolte loving my script. The producer’s assistant, a Harvard jerk I knew from film school scheduled the meeting at seven a.m. just to inconvenience me.

“He’ll see you at home before he goes to the studio,” I was told. So I drove to the producer’s Bel Air home. That should’ve been a red flag. But I was desperate in those days, and aware that these creative-producer types had a lot of strange schedules.

I knock on the giant oak doors of the producer’s fake colonial mansion. A Filipino servant gives me warm green tea before scuttling off like a crab. I’m left in a living room that looks like it’s been decorated for a faux royal wedding. I take my script out of my worn canvas Danish school bag. My hand is shaking with nerves as this legendary producer walks in, still wearing pajamas and a white silk bathrobe. He sits at his desk, sets a steaming coffee on it, and says: “Get down to business. Let’s hear it, buddy.”

I launch into my pitch. I do a very professional job of summarizing my screenplay, then start acting out some choice dialogue. Mr. Producer nods and I start feeling optimism.

Mr. Producer, sitting there in his PJs, takes another sip of his latte. Then he puts down his mug and says: “Enough. I get it. Now, would you do anything to make it happen?”

I answer, “Just about.”

A hint of a smile shines through his bearded face. He walks over to me and guides me into a chair. Then he slides off his bathrobe and drops his pajama bottoms to the floor, revealing thick pale legs and a hairy cock. This is my world.

Whoa. It’s the classic Hollywood cliché. I think that in this awful moment he wants me to blow him. And I just can’t do that. But I’m wrong about his desires, and in retrospect, I wish it was only fellatio he had in mind. He turns his back to me, bends over, spreads his cheeks wide, and says: “Eric, I’d like you to lick my asshole.”

I’m too shocked to speak. I never imagined such a thing would ever happen. But he starts telling me it’s essential to have trust to make a movie together. He says in his experience, licking his asshole is the fastest way to measure trust, especially with a screenwriter.

It’s my chance at a major studio film, a possible shot at Oscar glory, and financial freedom for life. I know the Writers Guild of America will guarantee I am paid at least $54,000, and maybe ten times that with the right agent closing my deal. So I tell him, “There are laws against sexual harassment, you know.” And he says, “Not in Hollywood, dear boy.”

I bow to the inevitable will of power. I plant my nose up his sweaty ass. Immediately, I can tell he ate Chinese the night before. His crack reeks of spicy peanut, peppers, and kung pao sauce.

Three minutes later, he says: “Great meeting you. My people will contact you.”

I go home and wash out my mouth with an entire bottle of Listerine. It barely makes a dent in the horror I endured.

I thought about killing myself after that meeting, but then I figured others in Hollywood have done worse trying to advance their careers. I don’t know if Mr. Producer ever read my script. Probably not. Even after a dozen calls to his people, I never heard back from him. The incident traumatized me so bad, I felt disgusted whenever I looked at my once-cherished script. It was the best one I had written, yet my hand would tremble if I picked it up. The humiliation of my meeting was so unbearable, literally licking Hollywood asshole for nothing, I eventually burned the script and dumped the ashes in the trash. But the memory gets worse.

As bad as all this sounds, the most devastating moment came when I was on my knees, wiping my mouth after Mr. Producer had pulled up his PJ bottoms. At that instant, a major A-list actor walks into the room half-dressed and stares at me. Then he grins and says, “Hi guys! Happy Tuesday.” He didn’t find the situation odd or disturbing at all. His enabling nonchalance nauseates me still. And the fact that I saw him regularly play a beloved, cavalier superhero only makes it worse. That’s how my meeting ended, and for all practical purposes, my screenwriting career. I was broken after that. Hollywood is a tough town. It’s hard, shitty, and cruel in ways people outside the gold ropes and red carpet can barely imagine. Until now.

Eric Coyote earned his Master of Arts degree in critical theory from the University of Southern California. He writes about movies, Hollywood, and culture.

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