John Oliver, Dustin Hoffman Spar on Sex Misconduct Claims

Heated conversation happened at anniversary screening of 'Wag the Dog'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2017 6:40 AM CST
John Oliver, Dustin Hoffman Spar on Sex Misconduct Claims
This image released by HBO shows John Oliver, host of "Last Week Tonight."   (Eric Liebowitz/HBO via AP)

As far as Dustin Hoffman is concerned, allegations about him sexually harassing a teen assistant on a movie set in the mid-'80s are a whole lot of nothing—but John Oliver made it into something Monday night. Oliver, host of HBO's Last Week Tonight, was moderating a 20th-anniversary screening of Hoffman's movie Wag the Dog in New York City. The panel—which included those two, plus director Barry Levinson, producer Jane Rosenthal, and Robert De Niro—stuck to what Deadline labels "typical Q&A material" and industry talk for the first half of the 45-minute discussion. But then Oliver noted the sexual misconduct claims were "something we're going to have to talk about because ... it's hanging in the air," per the Washington Post. To which a "defiant" Hoffman replied, "It's hanging in the air? From a few things you've read, you've made an incredible assumption about me."

"You weren't there," Hoffman continued, to which Oliver replied: "I'm glad." The back-and-forth, which more or less took over the rest of the talk, became "increasingly angry," with Hoffman insisting he didn't recall even meeting his accuser, saying he felt ambushed by both Oliver and event organizers, and pointing to his movie Tootsie as evidence of his "incredible respect for women." "There's no point in [an accuser] lying," Oliver told Hoffman, who answered, "Well, there's a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years." Oliver said that broaching the subject wasn't pleasant for him, but that it was necessary. Audience reaction was mixed, with some chastising Oliver, though one spectator yelled: "Thank you for believing women!" BuzzFeed notes post-panel reaction on the internet leaned mostly Team Oliver, though some say he shouldn't have blindsided Hoffman at this type of event. (More John Oliver stories.)

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