Jeffrey Tambor‘s former assistant is speaking out about “Arrested Development” star Jessica Walter‘s decision to tearfully forgive him for verbal harassment on set, saying while she “respects Ms. Walter’s desire to heal … it does nothing to stop the abuses.”
Van Barnes was Tambor’s personal assistant during his run on “Transparent” and claimed the actor subjected her to constant, unwanted physical contact and repeatedly made lewd remarks to her over a two-year period.
In a statement provided to The Blast, Barnes says:
I respect Ms. Walter’s desire to heal and move on from this incident, however, it does nothing to stop the abuses or demand accountability from Jeffrey Tambor. It is disgusting that the networks, producers and actors, including those on Transparent, kept overlooking Tambor’s behavior towards women he worked with. Even now, people in Hollywood are just beginning to feign outrage at Tambor’s workplace harassment of co-workers, when it turns out his harassment and abuse extended to his straight cisgender coworker as well. Mr. Tambor’s peers on Arrested Development and Transparent had no problem gaslighting and ignoring the experience of numerous women who have now come forward, when it was only trans women speaking up and demanding accountability. This once again shows just how self-serving people in the industry can be, and is a prime example of why the #timesup and #metoo movements are needed in Hollywood.
Barnes’ allegations prompted an investigation at Amazon; Tambor was fired from “Transparent” roughly three months later.
Prior to the “Arrested Development” fifth season premiere on Netflix, the New York Times conducted an interview with the cast. Walter tearfully and candidly spoke about the verbal harassment she endured at the hands of Tambor.
Tambor recently admitted to a “blowup” at Walter on set. When the topic came up during the cast’s NYT interview, Walter went into detail about her experience, saying, “Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize,” adding, “In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now.”
The interview – specifically the male stars dismissing responses to Walter’s comments – was met with criticism and disappointment.
Jason Bateman immediately defended Tambor, calling his behavior common in the entertainment industry. Will Arnett chimed in to back up Bateman and seemingly make light of the situation as Walter was driven to tears.
Alia Shawkat was the one star who came to Walter’s defense, chiding her co-stars and saying Tambor’s behavior was unacceptable.
The next day, both Bateman and Tony Hale issued statements apologizing for their comments.
Barnes noted the situation “once again shows just how self-serving people in the industry can be, and is a prime example of why the #timesup and #metoo movements are needed in Hollywood.”