Actor's Hour has apologized for the incident involving Harvey Weinstein in a lengthy Facebook message Friday.
Alexandra Laliberte, who runs the venue, wrote that the events that occurred days ago were "the complete opposite" of the community built this past year by the organization.
Laliberte claimed that she initially did not receive "feedback" on Weinstein's presence, and therefore chose not to turn him away. This, she said, was ultimately a mistake.
"I am deeply saddened that this was not only triggering for attendees, but that they ultimately felt unsafe — some even outraged — when a safe environment is, at its core, what I set out to create. Creating an environment that is at once safe but also leaves open forum for free speech is an extremely fragile endeavor," she wrote.
"When the comedian on stage confronted Mr. Weinstein, it was unclear who responded with heckles. When Ms. Stuckless confronted Mr. Weinstein directly, I couldn’t hear what was being said — and wasn’t sure if someone was beginning a performance or monologue," Laliberte added. "By the time she was walking out- it was too late. She should not have been encouraged to leave. Then and there, I should have shut down the event or given her the microphone to vocalize her feelings, but I was in total shock and I let my fear and inexperience paralyze my decision making ability."
Laliberte, who was criticized for her initial dismissive response to the incident, said that it was her "personal fear and sadness" which urged her to respond "defensively" to backlash. Since, she has taken time to reflect.
"I want to sincerely apologize to any people — male or female — who were re-traumatized, hurt, or felt disrespected this week at Actors Hour. Mr. Weinstein will not be attending any future Actor's Hour events. I acknowledge and understand that apologies are not enough at this time. I also offer my openness, my listening, and my sincerity. I welcome any dialogue on how I can continue to grow as an individual and especially welcome any and all communication from other victims of violence in the community," she concluded.
This post was originally published on October 25, 2019.
Two nights ago, Harvey Weinstein walked into a New York City bar. There a woman comedian heckled the disgraced Hollywood producer who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than 70 women. She was booed.
Two other women attending the show were removed for confronting Weinstein, who is due to stand trial in NYC this December for a rape allegation. The incident, which happened at an event for up and coming performers, has since gone viral. Here is a timeline breaking down the events.
Where was it?
The Downtime Bar in the Lower East Side on the night of Wednesday, October 23.
Why was Weinstein there?
He was there to watch Actor's Hour, a monthly event for young performers. In a statement, Weinstein's rep told The Hollywood Reporter that "Harvey Weinstein was out with friends enjoying the music and trying to find some solace in his life that has been turned upside down. This scene was uncalled for, downright rude, and an example of how due process today is being squashed by the public, trying to take it away in the courtroom too."
So, what happened?
During comedian Kelly Bachman's set, she called out the "elephant in the room," referring to Weinstein as "Freddy Krueger." "I didn’t know we had to bring our own Mace and rape whistles to Actor's Hour," she said in an Instagram video, per Buzzfeed News. The joke earned boos from the crowd, with one person telling her to "shut up."
"This kills at group therapy for rape survivors," the 27-year-old comic continued, revealing she was a survivor herself. Bachman then said, "I've never gotten to confront those guys. So just a general fuck you..." before continuing her set.
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Bachman said seeing Weinstein in the crowd was a "nightmare come to life," adding, "It kind of felt like old-school Harvey to me — having his own table in a Lower East Side bar, surrounded by actors."
Later in her set, Bachman yelled out "consent is important" before staring down Weinstein, a move she said was meant to startle the audience. "I didn't want to make everyone comfortable," she told Buzzfeed News. "I didn't want to make light of this person and make everyone feel good about it."
Why were two women asked to leave?
After Bachman mentioned Weinstein's presence, another comic made a joke about Weinstein being there. "I'd like to address the elephant in the room," comedian Andrew B. Silas said. "Who in this room produced Good Will Hunting? 'Cause that shit was great."
Silas later told Buzzfeed News via Instagram DM that the joke wasn't intended to make light of Bachman's set. "Her courage was incredible," he said. But, Silas' joke and later interaction with Weinstein — following his set, Silas said he shrugged at Weinstein on his way out, but did not talk — angered another performer, Zoe Stuckless, who confronted Weinstein during intermission.
"Nobody is going to say anything?" Stuckless, who uses they/them pronouns, is heard screaming in a video later posted to Facebook. "Nobody is really going to say anything?" In the clip, Stuckless is asked to leave the venue. "I'll get out of here, that's fine, I am happy to leave, but nobody is going to say anything?" they continued before being escorted out of the bar. "I'm going to stand four feet from a fucking rapist, and no one is going to say anything?"
Following Stuckless being asked to leave, Amber Rollo, a comedian who was there to support her friend, Bachman, also confronted Weinstein. On Twitter, Rollo wrote that she told Weinstein, “She's right. You’re a fucking monster. What are you doing out here? Fuck you.”
What was Weinstein's response?
While Weinstein reportedly did not say anything to the women. His rep's statement to THR said, "Harvey, in fact, suggested the woman should be allowed to talk and ask him any questions." And that "the venue’s personnel asked the woman to leave, not Harvey’s."
In a tweet, Rollo said that an unidentified man sitting with Weinstein called her a "cunt," while an unidentified woman at Weinstein's table led her outside.
I was shocked to see him out, but not because I thought he would have shame, he is a sociopath and clearly has no shame. I'm shocked because he was invited to an event put on by and for artists.— Downright Rude (Amber Rollo) (@ambercrollo) October 24, 2019
What has been the response from the bar's owner?
In a Facebook post, which has now been removed, and on its Instagram Stories, the Downtime Bar referred to Stuckless as a heckler. "Shortly into the evening, one guest began heckling another, causing a disturbance to everyone in attendance," the post said, per Buzzfeed News. "After several requests to stop were ignored, we kindly asked the heckler to leave."
What has been the response from the bar's owner?
On Instagram Stories, Downtime Bar referred to Stuckless as a heckler. "Shortly into the evening, one guest began heckling another, causing a disturbance to everyone in attendance," the post said. "After several requests to stop were ignored, we kindly asked the heckler to leave."
The bar continued by stating that Actor's Hour made the guest list and that its goal is to make "everyone feel welcome" and that "all guests are treated equally, with the same service and respect. In keeping with this goal, we made a decision that would allow the evening to go on as planned."
What was the response from Actor's Hour?
Following the event, Alexandra Laliberte, the organizer of Actor's Hour, told BuzzFeed News she "welcome[s] all walks of life into my space." In an interview with Variety, Bachman claimed that Weinstein was sitting at a reserved table, "which Actor's Hour reserved." Laliberte denied inviting Weinstein and told Buzzfeed News that it is not the first time he had attended the event.
As to why she allowed Weinstein to attend the event featuring up and coming women performers, Laliberte told Buzzfeed News: "I protect them by freedom of speech." However, later, in a Facebook statement, Laliberte apologized. "I am deeply saddened that this was not only triggering for attendees, but that they ultimately felt unsafe — some even outraged — when a safe environment is, at its core, what I set out to create," she wrote. "Creating an environment that is at once safe but also leaves open forum for free speech is an extremely fragile endeavor."
Laliberte wrote that after Stuckless confronted Weinstein, she "should have shut down the event or given her the microphone to vocalize her feelings, but I was in total shock and I let my fear and inexperience paralyze my decision making ability." While Laliberte stated that apologies aren't enough at this time, she welcomes "any dialogue on how I can continue to grow as an individual and especially welcome any and all communication from other victims of violence in the community."
What has been the response online?
Following the incident, the bar now has a one-star rating on Yelp, with many recent reviews decrying the events of this past week. "If you've only got one night in NYC, and you're looking for a bar where you can meet a famous sexual predator and call women c---s to their face without being kicked out," one reviewer wrote. "Downtime Bar is the place for you, my friend."
While another wrote, "If you object to the presence of this monster, they throw you out. Spend your money here if you like your dollars to support venues that elevate/protect perpetrators of abuse and assault."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).