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‘On the Record’ is a reminder that the #MeToo movement is here to stay

May 27, 2020, 12:36 PM UTC
On the Record premiere
'On the Record' premiere at Sundance
Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Hertz paid out millions in executive bonuses after laying off workers, the white woman who called the police on a black man in Central Park loses her job, and the documentary once produced by Oprah premieres today. Enjoy your Wednesday

– On the Record, on the TV. Even before the pandemic became the only thing we could talk about, the #MeToo movement was losing some of its grip on global headlines.

On the Record, a documentary premiering today on the new streaming service HBO Max, is a reminder that while women’s experiences of harassment and assault may become less prominent in the public consciousness, they certainly do not disappear.

The film tells the stories of Drew Dixon, Sil Lai Abrams, and Sheri Sher, three women who accused music mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault. (Simmons has denied the allegations.)

The doc got some attention earlier this year when news broke that Oprah Winfrey was cutting ties with the project (and taking its Apple TV distribution deal with her) over creative differences with the filmmakers. It’s hard to compete with Oprah on the publicity front—or anything really!—so it’s great to see the film land on a splashy distribution platform and to have the opportunity to be received on its own terms.

Our colleague Radhika Marya spoke to Dixon, Abrams, and Sher about what it feels like to finally see their stories make it to the small screen.

“It’s a relief that it’s finally going to find an audience,” Dixon told her. “I hope other survivors whose abusers aren’t famous, who may be in industries that have nothing to do with entertainment…hopefully will see their own story and experience affirmed in some way by some of the things that we have gone through.”

The trio also spoke to Radhika about the complexities of being black women, speaking out against a powerful black man.

“As a feminist, I don’t subscribe to the idea that I need to protect those who harm us. I believe they need to be called out,” Abrams said. “On the flip side, I’m fiercely protective of my people and cognizant of the way in which we are perceived, and not wanting to…add to that by coming forward. But at the same time, I’m very resolute that this is just.”

None of the three seems to have much faith the #MeToo movement has yet transformed the entertainment world into a safe place for women, but the spirit that first moved them to speak out—and kept them resolute during the years it took for their stories to make it to screen—seems as strong as ever. As Sher told Radhika: “I think this film is going to bring awareness and light.”

Kristen Bellstrom

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- A tale of two Coopers. A white woman named Amy Cooper was recorded on video in New York's Central Park this weekend calling 911 and telling police that an "African-American man" threatened her life after the man, writer and editor Christian Cooper, asked her to put her dog on a leash in the park's woodland area known as a haven for bird-watching. Amy Cooper's employer was Franklin Templeton, the investment manager led by Jennifer Johnson. The company fired Cooper from her position as head of insurance investment solutions on Tuesday, saying that it does not "tolerate racism of any kind." Read our colleague Ellen McGirt's piece on the incident from Broadsheet sister newsletter raceAheadFortune

- Shifting gears. Hertz, the Fortune 500 car rental company that until last week was led by CEO Kathryn Marinello, paid out $16 million in bonuses to 340 executives before it filed for bankruptcy this month, including $700,000 to Marinello's replacement as chief executive. The company paid the bonuses a month after it laid off 10,000 employees. Fortune

- Trading pause. The Justice Department closed its investigation into Sens. Kelly Loeffler and Dianne Feinstein over stock trades that seemed to be related to coronavirus briefings; the investigation into Sen. Richard Burr continues. A spokesperson for Loeffler says that the decision "affirms what Senator Loeffler has said all along—she did nothing wrong." Wall Street Journal

- The main event. Big tech—like Eventbrite, led by CEO Julia Hartz—has become an unlikely ally of small business as the businesses that allow platforms to thrive are threatened by the coronavirus downturn. Hartz and lobbyist Heather Podesta have worked their connections on behalf of the event venues and retailers that are so critical to Eventbrite's success. Protocol

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Pearson has promoted Alexa Christon chief marketing officer. Grammarly hired Shopkick CMO Kristy Stromberg as VP of marketing. EY promoted Asia-Pacific accounts leader Alice Chan to global accounts committee chair; she succeeds Alison Kay, who is now U.K. & Ireland managing partner, client service. Former U.S. Surgeon-General Regina Benjamin joins HealthQuests’ board of advisors. Nexthink hired PTC VP of HR Meg Donovan as chief people officer. 


- Team effort. SpaceX is scheduled to launch its first manned spaceflight today. In the past, astronauts' journeys have left their families waiting on Earth; it's the same this time around, with one crucial difference: astronauts are often married to other astronauts. "Astronaut wives" Karen Nyberg and Megan McArthur will know exactly what their husbands are going through when they take flight. The Atlantic

- Political first. Claire Russo is running for Congress in Virginia. One of her campaign ads includes a groundbreaking line: "I was attending the Marine Corps Ball when I was drugged and raped by a superior." The political ad is believed to be the first to include a candidate sharing a personal experience with sexual assault. Russo has made her own experience and subsequent battle with the Marine Corps a centerpiece of her campaign. New York Times

- Pregnancy and COVID-19. A new, small study of pregnant women who tested positive for the coronavirus found that the virus appears to lead to injury of the placenta during pregnancy. The study found evidence of "insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus and blood clots in the placenta." CNN


Athing Mu might be America's fastest teenager. How fast will she be in 2021? New York Times

Pence press secretary back to work after coronavirus recovery, announces pregnancy CNN

Dear Kevin Mayer: Here is what parents want you to change at TikTok Fortune

Surviving it all The Cut


"Workers are going to be unwilling to accept anything less than real change in the value of their work."

-SEIU president Mary Kay Henry on the value placed on work now deemed 'essential'