NEW YORK (AP) — When “Transparent” debuted four years ago on Amazon with a transgender lead character, it was a special moment for TV. It won Emmys and seemed a perfect fit for a burgeoning civil rights movement. Now the show’s future may be in flux following allegations against star Jeffrey Tambor.
Fellow “Transparent” actress Trace Lysette alleges Tambor pressed his body against hers in a sexually aggressive manner and made inappropriate and unwanted sexual statements on the set of the show. Tambor denies the allegations saying in a statement that he has “never been a predator — ever.” Lysette is the second woman to accuse Tambor of harassment.
Lysette, who is herself transgender, said on Twitter that when she emerged from wardrobe in a costume of a lingerie top and shorts for a scene with Tambor, he said, “My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually.”
Lysette said she and another actress laughed off the remark, but then Tambor approached her between scenes a few minutes later.
“He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body,” Lysette said. “I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas.”
Tambor has been hailed for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman, the transgendered matriarch of the quirky Pfefferman family. He has won a best actor Emmy for his portrayal, and has also starred in such shows as “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Arrested Development.”
Lysette urged Amazon to “remove the problem and let the show go on.” The gay rights group GLAAD echoed her request, calling for the show to be refocused, presumably away from Tambor.
“For too long transgender women have been forced to hide stories of harassment and abuse in the work place, and Trace has taken a powerful stand in calling for an industry where all women can work in safe environments,” GLADD said.
“GLAAD stands with Trace in her hope that the inappropriate situations she and others endured on set will be remedied, and that future seasons will focus on more of the many brilliant characters that audiences love and care about.”
Several voices in the transgender community have also urged Amazon to continue the series without Tambor. “We cannot let trans content be taken down” by Tambor, wrote Our Lady J, a writer and producer of “Transparent.” Actor and activist Omar Sharif Jr. also took to Twitter to say “it’s critical” that “Transparent” continue “(without Tambor) as trans stories are needed more than ever!”
Amazon Studios said it is adding the information to an investigation of Tambor it opened last week when his assistant made similar allegations, which Tambor also denied, calling her “disgruntled.”
Tambor said in a statement that he can be difficult to work with, but denied any sexual misbehavior.
“I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone,” he said. “But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express. “
Tambor is the latest high profile Hollywood figure to be accused of misconduct in a wave that began when dozens of sexual harassment allegations were reported last month against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is being investigated for rape by police departments in London, New York and Los Angeles. An unnamed aspiring actress has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Weinstein and his former company in an attempt to hold them financially responsible for the producer’s alleged actions.
On Friday, producer, radio and television host Ryan Seacrest said someone who worked as his wardrobe stylist at E! News nearly a decade ago suggested he had engaged in inappropriate behavior.
“If I made her feel anything but respected, I am truly sorry. I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result,” Seacrest said in a statement, describing himself as “an advocate for women.”
E! spokeswoman Joanne Park said the channel is investigating.
Also Friday, Los Angeles talent agent Cameron Mitchell said allegations that he sexually assaulted actress Demi Mann are false and egregious.
Mann filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that she had been sexually harassed and that Mitchell had forced her to perform oral sex on him twice. She also said she went to a bar with him and then only remembered waking up in her bed with him lying nude next to her.
CAA said it launched an immediate investigation and suspended Mitchell last month.
Also Friday, Vice Media said it has appointed a seven-woman advisory board to examine workplace issues at the media company following a report in The Daily Beast that Vice tolerated inappropriate behavior and harassment toward women.