UPDATED, 6:58 PM: “We have only recently learned of these past allegations regarding Mr. Walk,” Fox today said hours after claims of sexual harassment were leveled at one of the judges of their new competition series The Four: Battle For Stardom. “We are currently reviewing this matter and are committed to fostering a safe environment on all of our shows,” the Murdoch-owned net added of alleged behavior that now Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith revealed earlier Monday online of her once Sony Music boss.
As the Fox is in a very tricky situation here.
Not only is Walk a judge on the January 4 premiering The Four, but the grand prize for contestants is a recording contract with Republic Records – which he runs. A grand prize that someone is scheduled to receive as the show heads into its final round of taping this week.
PREVIOUSLY, 4:50 PM: With just days to go in the taping of the end of Fox’s The Four, judge and record company boss Charlie Walk has been accused by a former label executive of sexually harassing her during his stint at Sony Music.
Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith described how she was “in shock” when Walk called to ask her to work for him. She said Walk flattered her and told her “a lot of things I wanted to hear,” lauding her promise and her ability to revolutionize a struggling recording industry. She said he introduced her to music industry power players, including Donnie Ienner and Lyor Cohen and my ultimate (now fallen) hero, Russell Simmons.”
It seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. But Coopersmith described a darker side of this supposed dream job, in which Walk allegedly would invite her into his office and make lewd comments, send sexually explicit text messages, grope her at business dinners and, on one occasion, attempt to push her into bed with him.
“I remember the girl that took that job,” Coopersmith wrote in an open letter. “I remember how confident and vocal she was. How grateful. I remember how motivated and determined she was to crush it, to be a visionary in the industry. But the girl who walked away a year later had shrunk. She no longer looked up when she walked. She became quiet. Her spirit was barely recognizable. She felt confused. She felt diminished. She felt wholeheartedly worthless. She lived in a corrosive pit of shame.”
Calling Walk a “scumbag,” Coopersmith said his behavior made her “feel sick to my stomach almost everyday.” She says she left the industry eight years ago and held the ugly secret for all this time — reliving it in flashbacks and nightmares.
“To you, Charlie Walk what you did was normal,” she declares. “It was a power you perceived to have earned, with a right to exercise it. But to me it was insulting, confusing and objectifying. And it was a secret that I held for a very long time, my experiences only spilling out in flashbacks and nightmares.”
Coopersmith went public with her account a day after the Grammy Awards put the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements at the center of the event, underscoring the issues of harassment, discrimination and pay inequality. One of the evening’s highlights was Kesha’s powerful performance of her hit “Praying” — an anthem for abused women — in which she was accompanied by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, Julia Michaels and Bebe Rexha and the Resistance Revival Chorus.
Fox has not responded to Deadline’s request for comment about the accusations and what impact if any they could have on the production of first-year singing competition show The Four.
Hosted by ex-Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie and judged by Walk, Sean “Diddy” Combs, DJ Khaled and singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor, The Four: Battle for Stardom debuted at the beginning of the year on the net to OK ratings. Pitching somewhat established artists against newcomers, the goal of the show is a recording contract with the Walk-led Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group.
Universal Music issued a statement, saying it’s conducting a review. “While it appears this blog post relates to the period prior to Mr. Walk’s appointment to his position at Republic Records, we take the allegations very seriously and intend to conduct a full and complete review of this matter.”
Sony Music declined comment.
Here is Coopersmith’s letter in its entirety:
Dear Charlie Walk~
I remember the day you called and asked me to work for you. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe a music mogul like yourself wanted ME to come work for YOU. And not only did you want me to work for you, you wanted me to start my very own department. You said it would revolutionize the way the record industry worked. You said I would change the game. You said I had raw talent. You said I was bright, savvy and necessary. You said a lot of things that I wanted to hear. You made me feel like a Unicorn. And you promised me a lot of things. And you were true on your word. You took me as a young trend forecaster and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to help shape the industry that I loved, which was crumbling at the feet of digital downloads. You introduced me to other music moguls like Donnie Ienner and Lyor Cohen and my ultimate (now fallen) hero, Russell Simmons. You gave me a fancy office, an assistant and a budget. You took me backstage to shows and got me private meet ‘n greets with the likes of Prince. You gave me opportunities beyond my wildest imagination.
But you also made me feel sick to my stomach almost everyday. For a year I shuddered at the idea of being called into your office, where you would stealthily close the door and make lewd comments about my body and share your fantasies of having sex with me. I was 27. No previous experience had taught me what to do in such a situation. So I laughed it off, gently reminded you that you were married with children, and tried to change the subject. But you were relentless. You would instant message me throughout the day making sexual remarks. Truly vulgar words and ideas. Pervasively. You invited me to dinners that in hindsight I had no business being at, but you did it so that you could put your hand on my thigh under the table, every time inching it closer and closer to my sacred place. You did it so you could lean over and whisper disgusting things into my ear and I had to smile so that no one suspected anything. On multiple occasions your wife was sitting right across from us. And then there was that event at your swank pad when you actually cornered me and pushed me into your bedroom and onto your bed. The bed you shared with your wife… your wife who was in the room next door. You being drunk and me being 6 inches taller was my saving grace.
You promised me the world in my career. You told me I would be one of the top 30 music executives under 30. It’s what I wanted. Cloaked in power, you knew how to get me right where you wanted me. Under your control. Playing your sick games.
After a year of working in fear, I finally called deep on my courage and shared my story with your counterpart. He wasn’t surprised. He told me that there was nothing I could do about it, but that he would help me coordinate a graceful exit if I wanted. I was paid to keep my mouth shut and my reputation intact. I’m ashamed of that piece but it’s a truthful part of my story. I took that dirty money and moved to LA.
I remember the girl that took that job. I remember how confident and vocal she was. How grateful. I remember how motivated and determined she was to crush it, to be a visionary in the industry. But the girl who walked away a year later had shrunk. She no longer looked up when she walked. She became quiet. Her spirit was barely recognizable. She felt confused. She felt diminished. She felt wholeheartedly worthless. She lived in a corrosive pit of shame.
To you, Charlie Walk what you did was normal. It was a power you perceived to have earned, with a right to exercise it. But to me it was insulting, confusing and objectifying. And it was a secret that I held for a very long time, my experiences only spilling out in flashbacks and nightmares. And my silence paid off. I was able to flourish in the industry, but the more that I did, the more that I saw there were so many Charlie Walks. I walked away from the world of entertainment 8 years ago and never looked back. Now I’m running a women’s sanctuary devoted to self-love, growth and empowerment. I find myself in a vortex of strength, courage and most of all morality. It’s where I belong so in some ways, perhaps I needed to endure you, to get here, so I’m deciding to be grateful for your part in my journey.
The truth is Charlie Walk there will always be scumbags like you. I know this because you’re raising sons who will follow in your own footsteps. But here’s the thing, I’m raising a son too. And I’m raising him to respect himself so that he can respect others, including women. I’m raising him to stand up to a-holes like you in honor of women. I’m raising him to know that healthy relationships don’t involve power. I’m raising him to be what you weren’t raised to be, a decent human being.
I don’t wish ill for you, Charlie Walk. Only the possibility of personal awakening, accountability and transformation so that you can use your power for good. I forgive you, Charlie Walk. I hope you can forgive yourself.