Two years on, Hollywood reflects on #MeToo changes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – This week marks two years since the New York Times and the New Yorker published accounts by multiple women accusing film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, fueling the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and a drive to empower women who work behind and in front of the camera.

Weinstein is due to stand trial in January on charges of rape and predatory assault of two women. He denies any non-consensual sex.

Reuters asked actors, directors and producers how much Hollywood has changed since October 2017. Below are their replies, edited for length and clarity.

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS

“I’d like to say that I feel like men might be beginning to behave themselves a little bit better, and I say maybe. I’m not saying they have definitively, but there is a new way of communicating, or a slightly new awareness, an awareness shift that’s happened. It’s in process. This job is not done. It will never be done, but I think there’s a way of communicating that has improved, hopefully.”

PATRICIA ARQUETTE

“The #MeToo movement – my sister was one of the first people to come out – and I think it’s had a ripple effect all across the world, beyond Hollywood. Luckily there is more representation of women and women of color on television than there was before, but it’s still not really equal yet … Activists and people have been trying to get this work done for a long, long time, but the more we have this conversation, the more we ask for it, the more we talk about the need for it, the better. You have movies like ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Black Panther’ busting box office records and then suddenly, all of a sudden, the world is like ‘Oh, right, they could be successful.’ The business is sometimes the last one to learn.”

BRAD PITT

“We seem to work as a pendulum. We swing too far one way, then we find that sweet spot, and then we go too far back and we keep on this swing. But what is going on, which is positive, is that we’re recalibrating our relationships, behaviors and workplace. It’s long overdue and needed, and it’s a good thing.”

MICHELLE WILLIAMS

“I’ve seen so many changes within my industry, but not just within my industry … I see it at my daughter’s school. I see it in my friends’ places of employment. I see it really everywhere, and it gives me great faith that the world that these girls are growing up in is going to be different than the one that you and I grew up in.”

ANGELINA JOLIE

“I think we have very far to go. I think even in Hollywood there should have been an independent inquiry… There’s a lot of focus about what they say women want and I would say it’s not what we want. It’s what we’d like not to be done to us. Do not limit us to have an education, do not harm us whether it be at war or in our own homes, do not oppress us or try to control us, do not limit our possibilities as human beings and just let us be.”

KRISTEN STEWART

“There’s this solidarity that is providing women with a chance to start finally telling their own stories and not being used as sort of tools to tell their stories through other people … There are so many untapped resources and ways in which we can inhabit our own stories and repossess our narrative. (It) is fully doable right now and for the first time, like ever, so it is an exciting time for women in film, like, enormously.”

CARA DELEVINGNE

“I think the #MeToo movement has changed a lot, but like a lot of hashtag movements, the problem is that when you do a hashtag or something, people think it’s fixed. But it’s not. It hasn’t really changed anything, because it’s still happening.”

ELISABETH MOSS

“For me (on movie ‘The Kitchen,’) we had (director) Andrea (Berloff), three female leads, we also had (the) first female (director of photography), and it’s almost one of those things now that’s become natural because these women are the best at what they do, and that’s why they were there and not because they’re women … It’s just becoming more normalized, which I think is the best part of it.”

NICOLE KIDMAN

“Charlize (Theron), Margot (Robbie) and I just did a film – ‘Bombshell’ – which is about instigating change in terms of sexual harassment … We hope that constantly talking about it changes it for the generations to come.”

JULIANNE MOORE

“Because of Time’s Up, (New York) Governor (Andrew) Cuomo has adopted the Time’s Up safety agenda, which is really, really significant for every woman in New York state. New York is a much less progressive state than California, so when Time’s Up New York got together we thought, ‘What do we address here in our home state?’ And we’ve really been able to make changes (including) extend the statute of limitations on assault.”

MICHELLE PFEIFFER

“I think there’s been such a seismic shift in awareness in just a year. I think there’s a long way to go but I do think quite a bit has happened already. Already all the conversations I’ve had with women, we just didn’t have those conversations before.”

MELISSA MCCARTHY

“I think we’re at the beginning of a movement, and I think we have to keep pushing. You can talk a good game, but you have to wait until it changes, so we’re not there yet. We will be. You’ve got to root for it. I’m a hopeful person. I have two daughters; I have to be. I’ll fight. I’ll fight until I can’t fight anymore.”

ELLE FANNING

“For me, being a young woman in the industry and hearing actresses tell their story and being able to hear those voices and know that it’s OK to speak your truth on things and stand up for what’s right and say no – it’s a great community that has really formed because of this.”

KIRSTIE ALLEY

“When we did ‘Cheers,’ … if someone was in the bathroom, someone would kick open the door and we would take pictures, but the intent was in fun. And if the intent is to hold you hostage or not give you a job without sexual favors, you know the difference. But I think that the pendulum swung and now it needs to swing and balance out because people are not all ill-intentioned.”

JULIETTE BINOCHE

“I have been quite free, always, in my choices in life. I didn’t need #MeToo to do that, but I think #MeToo’s movement was very important for some people, for some women to speak out.”

RUTH NEGGA

“You really shouldn’t be able to get away with inequality anymore. The thing is that you’ve got to keep vocal about it; you’ve got to be vigilant. It’s not something that can ever be really done and dusted until there is equality and everybody’s voice is heard.”

RICHARD LINKLATER

“It’s just good everybody’s aware. I mean, out with the old, right? The old status quo can’t hold. There has to be these evolutionary leaps in what is acceptable.”

(Reporting by Rollo Ross, Alicia Powell, Sarah Mills, Jane Ross and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Tim McGraw To Give 36 Mortgage-Free Homes To Veterans

Country star Tim McGraw is putting his money where his heart is.

McGraw announced that he will be giving away a total of 36 homes to veterans and is paying them off so that the soldiers don’t have to worry about a mortgage payment.

“I can honestly say that I got as much — or more — out of the experience than the veterans who received the new homes and assistance,” McGraw said in a statement. “These families made an incredible mark on me, and I’m more grateful than I’ve ever been for the sacrifices they make every day to serve our country.”

McGraw has worked with an organization called Operation Homefront to help veterans who have not been able to obtain mortgages for homes because of the recent economic problems and restrictions placed on credit and borrowing.

“My sister’s a veteran, my uncle’s a veteran, my grandfather was a veteran, one of my best friends is a veteran,” McGraw said in an interview. “I’ve known people my whole life who are in service to America. And I think in my position to be able to do something like that is probably the ultimate thing.”

The organization has given away over 100 homes to veterans through efforts with McGraw and Chase Bank.

“Real Housewives Of Orange County” Star Gets Baptized

Tamra Judge, one of the stars of the TV show “Real Housewives of Orange County”, has accepted Christ and been baptized.

She is proclaiming forgiveness for her ex-husband after a messy divorce and child custody battle.  She said during her baptism ceremony that she hopes they will be able to grow into a peaceful relationship for the benefit of their children.

She came to Christ after a friend invited her to church.

“I was never baptized as a kid, and I was never brought up in church and I haven’t raised my kids in the church, it was something that was very foreign to me,” she shared. “When I was going through everything I was going through, I was at work one day and this woman came up to me at my studio — she goes ‘would you like to go to church with me?’ and I said ‘yes.'”

“So I took my kids to church and [my husband] Eddie went with me and my life just kind of changed, it was very powerful. And I think that with religion and accepting the Lord into your life and your heart, it’s a personal journey.”

People who had watched the show over the years have been critical of Judge, saying that her conversion isn’t real and just for the show.

“I got baptized on the show and [Bravo] has been using that for all their commercials so I talked with my pastor about it and he said ‘listen, being on a reality show and showing this, you’re probably going to get a lot of negative feedback,'” Judge recalled. “And I said ‘I know; I don’t know if I want to do it, because there could be a lot of negative about it and people can say she’s just doing that because she had a bad year last year.’”

“I think in the past six months I’ve felt like a new person, but it’s just one of those things where I wanted to make it right with the Lord and I knew the journey I was on. I’m not saying like, I’m perfect and I’m not saying I’m at church every single Sunday. I try to go every Sunday, I’m joining a Bible study … as you know, your mindset changes [after being baptized].”

Star of Fox Hit TV Show “Empire” Says “Without God, I’m Nothing”

Taraji P. Henson, breakout star of the Fox show “Empire”, told the crowd at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards she is “nothing without God.”

“Thank you God, because without God, I’m nothing,” said Henson. “And the fans. I love awards, they’re great, but this just means I’m touching lives, and that’s why I got into acting.”

Henson had just received the award for Best Actress for her portrayal of “Cookie Lyon” on “Empire”.  The Academy Award and Primetime Emmy award nominee has been very bold about her Christian faith and how God drives her.

“I moved to California with $700 in my pocket with my son and a dream and faith,” explained Henson to the Christian Post. “And every time a door would close I would pray to God, like ‘I know you’ve got a plan for me because I’m still here.’ There’s a plan for me and I believe in that.”

“Whenever I thought I was supposed to get something and it didn’t fall through, I would just fall back to God and be like, ‘OK, well what else, because whatever you’ve got must be better than this,'” she added.

Henson was the first African-American actress to win the award.

Influential Christian Filmmaker Joins Jesus In Heaven

Russell Wolfe, the co-founder of Pure Flix flims and the man behind the extremely impactful Christian film “God’s Not Dead” has died.

Wolfe, who was diagnosed with ALS in December 2013, was 50.

“As one of the founding partners of Pure Flix, Russell always represented the vision to make a positive impact in our culture for Christ,” Pure Flix co-founder David A.R. White said in a statement. “He did this consistently through his work, life, and relationships.”

Wolfe was working until the time of his death, helping produce the sequel to God’s Not Dead due in Spring 2016.

Wolfe was very visible in his battle against the disease.  Earlier this year he released a video on Facebook talking about his struggle and asking for the prayers of those around the world for healing.  The video showed him in a chair holding signs that gave the words he wanted to say to the world.

“One thing I have not lost is my faith. It’s stronger than ever before,” he said. “I believe in miracles. I believe for complete healing. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that God’s not dead.”

He leaves wife Alysoun and two children.

“Empire” Actor Says His Faith Makes Hollywood People Uncomfortable

Trai Byers has been given his big career break in the Fox smash hit “Empire” and says that he has to lean on his Christian faith to keep him grounded in the avalanche of attention, praise and even criticism.

Byers says that people sometimes confuse him with the character he plays on the show, which has drawn threats on social media.

“On social media and on the street people were saying, ‘If I see Trai on the street, I’m going to slap him in the face.’ Whether it’s true or not, it’s not a good thing to hear,” Byers told The Christian Post. “Ultimately, knowing God and reading the Word, it helps with patience with people, understanding, empathy and sympathy that they might not have that I have. If God gave it to me, why not exercise it?”

Byers says he believes that God has blessed him with this opportunity so he can tell others about Jesus.

“I know a part of my journey now, the reason I’m an actor now, the platform that I have now. I’m supposed to share the Lord with people. All of us are disciples on some level,” he told CP. “You don’t have to be behind the podium to tell a story, connect with people and share the Gospel.”

However, Byers is quick to point out that before he received this opportunity, he struggled with his faith during the hard times.

“I felt success on me, and I was wondering why it wasn’t manifesting itself in the way I thought it would. And it was just a war between flesh and spirit. But ultimately, God got me to a place where I delved deeply into the Word,” Byers explained. “I’ve read the Bible before, a couple of times cover to cover. Some things stuck with me and some things didn’t, but it was time for me to really get to know God.”

He said that Psalms 117 and 118 along with Matthew 6 have been great bedrocks in the rebuilding of his faith.

Children Go To See Spongebob; Get Fifty Shades Of Grey

A drive-in theater in California is under fire from parents after their children were able to see the extremely sexually explicit film “Fifty Shades Of Grey” when they came to see the family-friendly Spongebob movie.

Deborah Powell told KTVU-TV that she had brought a large group of children to the West Wind Solano Drive-In to see “Spongebob: Sponge Out of Water.”  However, from where they had to park to watch the film, they could see the heavy-R Fifty Shades.

“[On the screen] at the time there was a woman being slapped, naked, bound up… so, we had to have our children close their eyes,” she told KTVU. “I could see another car behind us that had children in there with their eyes closed.”

Powell said she expressed her concerns to a theater employee before trying to shield the pornographic film from being able to be seen by her children.  Eventually, they had to leave.

“There is no way to avoid looking at that screen. It’s too tempting. So, we couldn’t stay. So, we had to turn around. My children were devastated.”

The theater company would not comment to KTVU.

Another California drive-in is also under fire because the screen showing Fifty Shades of Grey can be seen from Highway 50 at the Sacramento 6.

Actor Playing Moses Calls Moses “Schizophrenic”

Christian Bale, the actor playing Moses in the upcoming film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” has publicly slammed the Biblical leader as mentally ill.

“I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life,” Bale said to international media.  Bale told the reporters that he really had no knowledge of the Bible and had to do “significant research” for the role.

The director of the film, Ridley Scott, also remarked that they will completely dismiss the truth of the Bible when enacting parts of the story such as the parting of the Red Sea.

The movie will claim it was not God who did it, but an earthquake.

“You can’t just do a giant parting, with walls of water trembling while people ride between them,” Scott said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, referring to the film “The Ten Commandments.”  “I didn’t believe it then, when I was just a kid sitting in the third row. I remember that feeling, and thought that I’d better come up with a more scientific or natural explanation.”

The movie will hit theaters on December 12th.