Netflix has cancelled promotional events in the UK for the latest Arrested Development season following a New York Times cast interview that increased publicity around star Jeffrey Tambor’s on-set abuse allegations, reports Entertainment Tonight. According to journalists contacted by the network about press cancellations, Netflix did not cite a reason for the changes.
While Jeffrey Tambor has unequivocally denied the multiple sexual harassment allegations that got him booted from his Emmy-winning role in Amazon’s Transparent, he readily admits to bad behaviour on set, including angry outbursts. “I did raise my voice at times, I was moody at times, there were times when I was tactless. But as for the other stuff, absolutely not,” Tambor told The Hollywood Reporter. He goes further to describe instances that sound considerably more abusive than “tactless,” including yelling at actors, producers, and even directors until they cried on set.
Meanwhile, questions remain about how to handle Tambor’s other iconic role in Netflix’s fifth season of Arrested Development. Though there has been no accusations of sexual abuse from the Arrested Development camp, Tambor admits to abusive behaviour and angry outbursts, including a particularly bad episode involving his on-screen wife, Jessica Walter. While details of the incident remain unclear, the NYT interview reveals the outburst was bad enough that talking about it months later made Walter cry. Co-star David Cross has since described the incident to Gothamist as “egregious,” saying the episode had “cruelty to it.”
The NYT interview is blowing up the internet because, with both Walter and Tambor present, the reporter asked about the outburst. Tambor apologised for his actions, but his male co-stars stole the show. Bulldozing Walter as she attempted to comment on her own abuse, Jason Bateman repeatedly explained away the incident as normal, part of the acting process, and part of being a family. Fellow male cast members Tony Hale, David Cross, and Will Arnett all butted in with variations on the theme: this behaviour is okay, we all do it, he’s learned from it, let’s move on. Even as it’s clear Walter hasn’t.
Walter’s tears are a poignant reminder that, as usual, “fixing things” means fixing them for men, while women suffer in silence. The NYT interview shows that men in Hollywood have not learned their lesson from the #MeToo movement, that they will continue to explain away oppressive and abusive behaviour. Netflix has been neutral on the abuse accusations, and so far there have been no repercussions for Tambor where Arrested Development is concerned. Whether or not the alleged sexual assaults occurred on their set, shouldn’t ensuring the safety of women be important enough to Netflix to take a firmer stance on the alleged abuser? Maybe instead of cancelling promotional events in general, the streaming service should pull Tambor out of them, making it clear that he is not representative of the service's views.