An explosive report by the New York Times has on-the-record accounts from four named women and one anonymous woman that allege that C.K., real name Louis Szekely, sexually harassed them. Like the Harvey Weinstein accusations, the accusations against C.K. follow a similar throughline with the comedian requesting to show women his penis and then masturbating in front of them.
Two of the women said that they were on the phone with C.K. having a business conversation when he began masturbating. Others said the incidents happened in person. C.K.'s influential manager Dave Becky then reportedly discouraged the women from talking about it in public. The comedian declined to comment to the Times about the accusations, while Becky denied threatening anyone.
Rumors of sexual impropriety had publicly followed C.K. since Gawker began reporting on gossip about him in 2012, though the NYT story has accounts going back a decade farther than that. No one had gone on the record about him until now.
On Friday, C.K. responded to the report, issuing a statement saying he regrets the pain he's caused.
"These stories are true," he said. "At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d--- isn't a question. It's a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly."
In the years after the events described in the report (the most recent account is from 2005), C.K. became arguably the most creatively respected comedian in America, receiving numerous Emmy and Peabody Awards and being praised for his wise and empathetic observations about modern life. Critics are writing that knowing the truth about the things C.K. did dramatically alters the context in which his work can be evaluated, since it often presented answers to questions of how to be a decent person.
Slate's Willa Paskin calls the revelations "tremendously disappointing," writing that in his show Louie, "he created and explored ambiguous circumstances with a keen understanding of social dynamics--and the ways that power and gender, in particular, affect them. Rather then abnegating the series' acuity, the revelations give it a sickening edge: Louie was a kind of propaganda piece for the decency of Louis C.K."
Comedian Tig Notaro, who released a stand-up album through C.K.'s website and later worked with him to develop her Amazon series One Mississippi before falling out with him, told the Times she felt "trapped" by her association with him, and worried that he put out her album to "cover his tracks."
"He knew it was going to make him look like a good guy, supporting a woman," Notaro said.
C.K. reportedly apologized to some of the women years later.
Before the report was published, C.K. canceled the New York premiere of his controversial new movie I Love You, Daddy, which is about a movie director whose daughter begins a relationship with a much older, notoriously creepy director inspired by Woody Allen, who allegedly molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. Distributor the Orchard canceled the theatrical release of the movie altogether Friday morning.
On Friday, Netflix announced that it will not go forward with a planned C.K. stand-up special. And HBO has dropped him from the autism benefit special Night of Too Many Stars and pulled the stand-up special Oh My God and the series Lucky Louie from its streaming and on-demand services.
Later on Friday, FX, which aired Louie and several other shows executive-produced by C.K. and has long been closely associated with him, announced that it is ending its affiliation with him and his production company Pig Newton.
"He will no longer serve as executive producer or receive compensation on any of the four shows we were producing with him - Better Things, Baskets, One Mississippi and The Cops," according to a statement from the network. TBS, which was co-producing The Cops, announced Friday that production on the animated series has been suspended.
"Louis has now confirmed the truth of the reports relating to the five women victimized by his misconduct, which we were unaware of previously," FX's statement continues. "As far as we know, his behavior over the past 8 years on all five series he has produced for FX Networks and/or FX Productions has been professional. However, now is not the time for him to make television shows. Now is the time for him to honestly address the women who have come forth to speak about their painful experiences, a process which he began today with his public statement.
"FX Networks and FX Productions remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure that all people work in an environment that is safe, respectful and fair, and we will continue our review of all of these productions to ensure that was and is the case."
C.K. was also dropped by his management company 3Arts on Friday. "This behavior is totally unacceptable in all circumstances and must be confronted and addressed," 3Arts said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
C.K. is the latest in a string of high-profile men in Hollywood to face accusations of sexual misconduct in a cultural climate much less willing to give them the benefit of the doubt than before, starting with producer Harvey Weinstein and including directors James Toback and Brett Ratner, actors Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor and Robert Knepper, among others.
Additional reporting by Megan Vick.