Aaron Sorkin put the kibosh on plans to film at the Chateau Marmont rather than cross a picket line manned by some of the 248 former employees who were laid off from the property last March, and violate a boycott enacted by those who allege that owner Andre Balazs and Chateau Marmont management allowed a toxic culture of sexual harassment and racism.
“We commend Aaron Sorkin for putting into practice the ideals of free speech and social justice that he depicted so brilliantly in his Oscar-nominated film The Trial of the Chicago 7,” UNITE HERE Local 11 co-president Kurt Petersen told The Hollywood Reporter, “This is the kind of leadership we need in Hollywood, and we urge everyone else in the industry to follow his lead and honor the boycott of the Chateau Marmont. We also thank members of SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, Directors Guild, and IATSE for their solidarity.”
Sorkin had scheduled to shoot scenes for his upcoming Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz biopic Being the Ricardos at the property last week, until a last-minute meeting with labor leaders changed his mind.
“Writer-director Aaron Sorkin, the cast and crew of Being the Ricardos stand in solidarity with The Chateau Marmont’s workforce,” producer Todd Blackadding told THR, “We are thankful to the organizers of the hospitality workers’ union of UNITE HERE Local 11 for sharing this information about the mistreatment of the workers.”
Some have wondered how Aaron Sorkin, known as an avid follower of news and politics, might have been unaware of the concerns raised about Balazs and the Chateau Marmont prior to this month. Allegations of sexual assault by Balazs surfaced in The New York Times in 2017, and more recent allegations of racial discrimination, sexual misconduct at the hotel, and labor disputes have played out in the media over the past year. High-profile Hollywood figures from Jane Fonda to filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, the guild which represents actors, have also publicly endorsed the boycott of the Chateau Marmont.
Balazs has denied all claims of misconduct and, in a statement, Chateau Marmont management accused labor organizers of “disrupting” and pushing a “disinformation campaign.”
“The exorbitant and gratuitous disinformation campaign that UNITE HERE Local 11 is waging is nothing but an attempt to intimidate and bully our current employees, who dared to choose lucrative staff positions with excellent benefits over union jobs, where a significant portion of their dues would be spent harassing non-union workers,” the statement reads. “Instead of questioning the Chateau Marmont’s business decisions that are keeping the hotel open during a pandemic, perhaps the members of UNITE HERE Local 11 should be demanding a proper accounting of how their dues are being spent and why.”
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