James Toback's Agent Dropped Him, But Still Represents Roman Polanski
Polanski at the Zurich Film Festival in 2017. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Hollywood power agent and former ICM chairman Jeff Berg has dropped Oscar-nominated writer and director James Toback as a client after 38 women accused Toback of sexual harassment, but still represents another notoriously embattled Hollywood director: Roman Polanski.
Berg's assistant confirmed to LAist on Monday morning that the agent was still representing Polanski. Berg formerly ran ICM Partners before starting his own short-lived talent agency, Resolution, which closed in 2014. He has been chairman of Northside Services since May 2015. LAist asked for comment on why Berg kept Polanski as a client even after dropping Toback, but did not immediately hear back.
Toback onstage at the Norman Mailer Center And Writers Colony Benefit Gala in 2014. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony)
Toback, who is known for his work on such films as Black and White and Bugsy, allegedly sexually harassed his victims in meetings and auditions dating back to the 1980s, asking them "humiliating personal questions" and having them watch as "he'd dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them," according to the L.A. Times. Berg's spokesperson "did not say when the representation ended," according to the THR story.
Toback has denied the sexual harassment accusations leveled against him, telling the L.A. Times he had never met any of the 38 women accusing him, or if he did, it "was for five minutes and have no recollection." Toback also claims it would have been "biologically impossible" for him to engage in many of the sexually predatory behaviors he was accused of, due to his diabetes and heart condition.
Director Roman Polanski was accused of sexual abuse by a fifth woman last week; California artist Marianne Barnard claims Polanski allegedly molested her in 1975, when she was 10 years old. Barnard said she was inspired to speak out by the many, many, many women in Hollywood who have come forward to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.
Polanski, now 83, has been living in Europe ever since he famously fled Los Angeles prior to his sentencing for the rape of then-13-year-old Samantha Geimer in 1979. Nevertheless, he's enjoyed a flourishing film career, winning the Oscar for Best Director for his work on The Pianist in 2003 and debuting a new film at the Zurich Film Festival earlier this year.