Should he stay or should he go? Hollywood, never as monolithic as Fox News viewers believe, certainly has reached no consensus on Al Franken, the Saturday Night Live veteran turned Minnesota senator.
“Zero tolerance,” tweets Alyssa Milano, firmly in the he-needs-to-go camp. On the other side: “He made a mistake,” said Chelsea Handler, agreeing with a Franken-supporting Bill Maher on last night’s Real Time With Bill Maher. “He’s not a predator.”
Maher neatly summed up the anti-resignation argument: “He did a bad thing and the condemnation has been universal, which he deserves. What he doesn’t deserve is to be lumped in with Roy Moore. Or Kevin Space. Or Harvey Weinstein. Or Donald Trump, who calls his accusers liars, threatens to sue them, did long riffs at his rallies where he said they were too ugly for him to assault.”
But with calls for Franken’s resignation coming from Republicans and some Democrats – including two candidates for governor of Franken’s state – the topic of Franken’s suitability for office remained a hot topic on cable news all day.
Now, at least two of Franken’s former SNL cohorts are wading in, both supporting their old colleague. Jane Curtin tells The New York Times today that she’s “upset about this atmosphere and good people being dragged into it.”
Curtin, one of the original Not Ready For Prime-Time Players, said the longtime SNL writer and featured player was a powerful ally of the show’s female writers and performers.
“If he did that,” Curtin said of Leeann Tweeden’s allegations, “that’s really stupid, but I have never seen him in a situation where he has been sexually aggressive with anybody.”
Also today, Curtin’s SNL castmate Laraine Newman retweeted two posts supporting Franken. Newman first retweeted a Washington Post column by Feminasty podcaster Kate Harding that begins, “I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.” Laurie Zaks, the president of Mandeville TV and former executive producer of Castle, retweeted the same column.
Newman then retweeted a WaPo article about former female staffers of Franken who issued a statement in support of the senator that noted “He treated us with the utmost respect.”
Another former SNL cast member, Rob Schneider (who recently said he too had been sexually harassed by a director), is in Franken’s corner. “I’ve known @alfranken for over 27 years, I disagree with him on a lot of stuff, but he is not and has never been a sexual harasser.”
Mike Shoemaker, Late Night With Seth Meyers producer, called the Franken photo “inexcusable,” but called his friend “a good man and a great senator”:
Actor Terry Crews, who has also gone public with a harassment accusation, insists Franken be “held accountable.”
And finally, Bette Midler tells Franken – and men in general – to “step outta the way and let women show you how to behave honorably!”