#MeToo, Five Years Later: Why Time’s Up Imploded

When it was founded in 2017 in the months following the breaking of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Time’s Up had to harness Hollywood’s considerable power and money — and its sudden outrage — to work against sexual harassment. Instead, today Time’s Up is a ghost organization, technically still operating, but with no CEO or programming offered in nearly a year, and with a skeletal board.

For many victims who had hoped the nonprofit would become an important advocate for their rights, Time’s Up went from an attention-grabbing debut at the 2018 Golden Globes to a near-defunct state. It has been one of #’s greatest disappointments. The era of MeToo. Instead of providing a voice for the voiceless, the organization collapsed amid accusations of conflict of interest and internal disagreements over its focus.

“Beyond the very fancy dress pins on the red carpet, what came out of this outfit?” asks Alison Turkos, an activist and sexual assault survivor. Turkos organized an open letter from 151 victims and former staff of Time’s Up to the board of the gender rights organization in 2021, calling the group “more than mission-critical” over its relationship with then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. accused of prioritizing “proximity of power”. “When you do survivor-oriented work in the entertainment world, you’re talking about the loss and trauma that your friends have caused,” says Turkos. “You have to be able to look someone in the eye who wrote you a check and say, ‘We’re going to have to have a difficult conversation.’ Instead, money and power took over, and their mission became to see how many powerful people they could get to the dinner table.”

Of Time’s Up’s three remaining board members, actress Ashley Judd declined to comment about the organization, and attorney Nina Shaw and financial executive Gabriel Sulzberger did not respond to requests for comment. For months, the Time’s Up press email address has bounced back a message to senders saying, “Time’s Up is now in the process of organizational restructuring. During this phase of the transition, we will not be giving press statements or interviews.” will take

The group has not submitted any financial documents to the IRS since its 2020 990 form, according to the nonprofit watchdog organization CharityWatch, which “currently has concerns about the organization and/or the organization’s financial information.” Unable to provide full rating information due to non-disclosure,” according to the watchdog’s site.

That’s a steep drop for a group that raised more than $22 million in its first 10 months from prominent industry figures like Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, Katie McGrath and CAA. $22 million went to create the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, the movement’s most tangible achievement, even as the nonprofit that spawned it is defunct.

TULDF, which is separately located and administered by the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, DC, has connected more than 6,000 women victims of sexual harassment with attorneys, paid legal fees in 330 cases, 130 Publicity has provided support for the cases and new initiatives are underway. Cases

“Because Time’s Up was a separate 501(c)(3) organization, the dissolution of their board had no impact on the fund,” says Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “We continue to operate independently of them as always.”

The Cuomo scandal, in which it was revealed that Time’s Up leaders had advised the governor after he was accused of sexual harassment, was the immediate cause of the group’s downfall, leading to the August 2021 resignation of CEO Tina. Tan and board chair Roberta Kaplan resigned, followed by the resignation of all but three board members and most of Time’s Up’s staff.

In many ways, such a conflict of interest seemed baked into the organization from its inception, when initial meetings and funding came from CAA, the agency that brought in several actresses to audition with Weinstein. sent in which he behaved like a predator. Before the Cuomo incident, there had been allegations for years about the group’s perceived conflicts. In spring 2021, 18 members of Time’s Up’s healthcare arm resigned over the group’s handling of allegations that co-founder and board member Esther Chu was sexually harassed by a co-worker at Oregon Health & Science University. Failed to report complaints of harassment. His stint in Time’s Up. In 2020, activists raised questions about the lack of support for victims in the documentary Time’s Up. On the recordAs for the accusers of Russell Simmons, after Winfrey, one of the organization’s major donors, tried to distance herself from the project she was executive producing.

During the three years that Time’s Up was active, the organization was often divided by competing visions of its mission—some wanted Time’s Up to focus on the excesses of the entertainment industry, while others on health care. , wanted to address harassment in industries such as agriculture and technology. Even within the entertainment industry, there was a sense that the problems of big-name actresses took precedence over the concerns faced by lesser-known women in industrial craft. Some wanted Time’s Up to be dedicated to workplace issues, while others wanted it to tackle broader gender-based issues such as abortion rights. As internal debate raged, the group cycled through three CEOs in three years, with its last, Monifa Bendel, exiting in November.

“This is a realignment, not a retreat,” Sulzberger said in a statement in November after Bendel departed and about two dozen Time’s Up staffers were laid off.

“I don’t want them to fail,” says a former Time’s Up staffer. “I just want to see some practical learning from last time. Which means you’re not getting different ideas when you just talk to yourself.

While Time’s Up was the most vocal organization to emerge from the #MeToo era, it is one of many groups dedicated to the issue of sexual harassment and assault, including the “Me Too. International,” anthem by Burke. The organization founded by, which started the #MeToo movement in 2006 for victims of sexual violence to share their stories. In Hollywood, there are also Voices in Action groups, a sexual assault and harassment reporting clearinghouse founded by actress and Weinstein victim Jessica Barth, and the Female Composers Safety League, founded by musician Naomi Abadi.

“The women’s movement in Hollywood is much broader now than Time’s Up,” says Abadi. “We appreciate the work they’ve done, but our ability to create a safe path in this industry does not depend on their existence. . I want to see more women building organizations.”

When the Supreme Court reversed. Roe v. Wade In June, several women who had been key leaders at Time’s Up emerged in an ad hoc group that holds weekly Zoom calls on the issue of abortion rights, including McGrath, Shaw and Rebecca Goldman, a former Time’s Up executive. COO, now co-founder of impact firm Acura Partners.

When the women introduced themselves, they never mentioned Time’s Up, according to two sources who were on the calls. “It’s like time-up never happened,” says one.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe..

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