“To be able to be in Sundance in Park City at that rally on the anniversary, to be before this group of women and men, to speak at this Respect Rally at a time when it’s so important, is very exciting,” says Gloria Allred of today’s gathering on the commemoration of Donald Trump’s inauguration and last year’s massively attended Women’s Marches across the nation. “Also having Seeing Allred, launched on this weekend at Sundance too, it’s just very encouraging,” the ferocious attorney added of the Marta Kauffman executive produced Netflix documentary.
With the Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman directed film set to premiere tomorrow, Allred will be addressing the rally on suddenly snowy Saturday morning along with Common and Jane Fonda, who also has a docu about her playing at Sundance this year. A long time fighter for women’s rights and civil rights, Allred has taken on Trump, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein in the past year in the courts and in the court of public opinion as allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault have instigated potentially transformative movements in Hollywood.
Before today’s gathering, Allred and Kauffman, whose Fonda and Lily Tomlin led Grace and Frankie debuted its fourth season on Netflix yesterday, spoke with me about the significance of the Respect Rally and Women’s Marches of last year and Seeing Allred. As Trump’s anniversary also sees the federal government in shutdown, the duo additionally discussed the rise of the #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up legal defense fund, pay equity, Weinstein, Trump and Cosby’s upcoming new criminal trial.
DEADLINE: Gloria, you often go in front of the cameras but never for such an up-close and personal spotlight as this film. Why did you choose to do this documentary?
ALLRED: Well, I first was reluctant to do the film because I’m very issue oriented, and I really prefer to talk about issues that are of concern to my clients and to women and minorities and help to highlight their voice and their battle for equality and respect. However, I was convinced that I should, in fact, not only do the film, but also be as candid as I could be about some of my life experiences so that people will understand why I have such a passion for justice.
Also, I’m honored and thrilled that someone like Marta Kauffman, who has been such a very successful person in Hollywood in so many ways is involved in Seeing Allred. And that’s true of the others too who were committed to helping to produce this film and direct this film. Robbie Tollin, Hannah Canter, Sophie Sartain, Roberta Grossman, and this amazing team who committed themselves to this and my journey for more than three years. I’m just thrilled that it came out in the way that it did. I hope that it will inspire and empower others, especially women and girls, to fight for justice.
DEADLINE: Marta, as Gloria just mentioned, you are primarily known for your TV work from Friends and Grace and Frankie, why was this the documentary that you wanted your Okay Goodnight production company involved with?
KAUFFMAN: Dominic, professionally I’ve spent a lot of time doing comedy, and as I get older, I want to do things that have different kind of impact. A documentary is also another way to tell a story, so professionally, that’s an interesting approach to storytelling to me. But the real reason I wanted to do it is because this needs to be done right now. You know, when we started talking about this three years ago, not as much was going on in the world of people coming forward about sexual abuse and sexual harassment. It wasn’t the same three years ago.
DEADLINE: That’s very true.
KAUFFMAN: Exactly, there was a little bit going on, but not this. Yet, it was still an important topic and one that we felt needed to be on the screen, because women have been underserved on the screen for a very long time. Another reason is, to be honest, it really pissed me off the way people spoke about Gloria. It really bothered me. Here’s this woman who has spent her entire life fighting for justice and if she were a man, people wouldn’t say the same things about her. I think they’d say the opposite.
DEADLINE: To that, Gloria, you have long been a strong advocate for women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and that is displayed very clearly right at the end of Seeing Allred when we see you at the Women’s March last year in D.C. This year, as Deadline reported exclusively, you will be speaking at this weekend’s Respect Rally here in Sundance. What does that mean to you, looking back at the year that has passed?
ALLRED: I’m excited to be there with Jane Fonda, and Common, and many, many others who will be speaking. Last year’s Women’s March in Washington was very inspiring to me, and I continue every day to be inspired by the courage of women. The fact that women have found their voice and continue to speak out about not only what they perceive to be the injustice in their life, which has not been addressed, but how they want their daughters to be treated in the future.
As the film shows, I have been to many marches, picket lines over the years. I’ve never seen anything like the Women’s March in Washington and of course throughout the nation and in many countries internationally.
To be able to be in Sundance in Park City at that rally on the anniversary, to be before this group of women and men, to speak at this Respect Rally at a time when it’s so important, is very exciting. Also having Seeing Allred, launched on this weekend at Sundance too, it’s just very encouraging. I do hope that this film will continue to inspire and empower women. That’s an important part of Sundance to me.
KAUFFMAN: I feel the same and I have to say, the idea that I’m going to get to be at this rally with Gloria and Jane is incredibly inspiring and thrilling.
DEADLINE: Marta, with that, what does it mean to you to have a film premiering at Sundance?
KAUFFMAN: I’ll tell you, it’s crazy. All these years, I’ve been looking at Sundance as that place that other people go, and I don’t get to be part of that club. So I’m really excited to be part of that club and experience it. I’m so proud of the film and the work that all of the women did on this film, and so happy that that’s where it’s debuting on this weekend, it’s quite the honor
DEADLINE: Since last year’s March On Main and the other marches around the nation, one difference is the discussions we are having in the industry now about sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender equity, salary spread with the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up – do you think it will result in real and serious change?
KAUFFMAN: If Gloria and I have anything to do with it, it will have lasting change.
ALLRED: I think that that sounds like a promise and a very important commitment, and I love it…
ALLRED: …Because that’s part of doing it, and I love, by the way, that, you know, this film is about women made by women, and also about minorities. You know, at Sundance, I understand of the 122 feature films being screened, 37% are directed by women. That’s not enough, but it’s a very important…
KAUFFMAN: It’s a better number. Now, whether or not they get paid the same as the men do is a whole other question.
ALLRED: That’s a whole other question. There are many, many questions that we should be asking. We need to have the answers. Women need to know what they can do about discrimination in pay, and titles, and responsibility, and then they can choose how they want to fight the battles, or when they want to fight the battles or you know, with whom they should fight those battles. I think you will see in the film that so many women right now are not going to be silenced by the fear that they once had about speaking out against powerful figures.
DEADLINE: Marta, as this discussion hopefully progresses, how do you see things evolving in the coming months and years?
KAUFFMAN: You know, it’s so tricky. I was just thinking about The Disaster Artist, and that here is a film with a scene in it where you see how abusive this man is to a woman. I mean, he’s abusive to everybody, but he’s sexually abusive to that one woman. It’s disgusting, and yet we’re celebrating this character, so that make me think we still have a long way to go in our business. I really feel we have a long way to go. I don’t know that the studios are yet on board with the idea that we can make movies about women.
We make a lot of movies about men. We make a lot of movies where the woman is the wife or the secondary character, but unless you’ve got a Meryl Streep or a Sandra Bullock, you’re often not getting your movie made if it’s about a woman. So I think we have a long way to go. I think the discussion, the dialogue is crucial in order to make change, but I don’t think we are yet at the place where people know how to make the change, because they’re so stuck in this male-led business.
DEADLINE: Gloria, work on this film started before the dozens and dozens of allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby emerged and before his mistrial for the alleged 2004 rape of Andrea Constand, a trial you attended. Like Donald Trump, Cosby is a fairly frequent presence in Seeing Allred and his new trial is set to start in April in Norristown, PA, how do you think it will differ from first trial of last summer?
ALLRED: I think I would be able to answer better as we get closer to the trial, because I think that’s going to be important to determine if the court will allow any more prior bad acts witnesses than the court permitted to testify previously.
I don’t know if the court will allow more. If they will allow more, whether any of those who will be called will be some of the women who alleged that they were Bill Cosby victims, as we will see many of them in this film. I don’t know whether any of them will be permitted to testify or whether there will be new accusers permitted to testify or whether the court will allow any prior bad act witnesses to testify. So I guess that I think that could make a very important difference, and we’ll have to wait and see.
DEADLINE: You have represented women who have made allegations publicly against Bill Cosby, some of whom are fighting in the courts, women who have made allegations against Trump, one of which is before the courts right now, and women who have gone public with allegations against Harvey Weinstein. You have successfully help get the statute of limitations for sex crimes changed in California, for child support collection and more. With all that and more, and with the media spotlight you command, how do you gauge your success day-by-day?
ALLRED: I don’t think of myself as successful until all women and minorities are successful and are equal. For me, it’s just about continuing to do my duty, which is to help women have a voice, to help them to understand what their options are legally, politically, economically, socially, and to help them to know that they can make informed decisions about how to fight for justice, but that each and every one of us needs to do that. This is something that we need to do together, and we can all do it in our own way. We each have I think a responsibility to do everything that we can to make this a better world for ourselves and for our daughters.
KAUFFMAN: You know, Gloria, I think you underestimate yourself a little bit, and you should pat yourself on the back, because you get laws changed. That has lasting, lasting impact. We need more laws to change, and I understand you don’t feel that you are completely successful, but you do have to give yourself a little bit of a break and a big pat on your back for even just that.
ALLRED: Well, thank you. I guess I’ll let everyone see the film, and then they can draw their own conclusions after Seeing Allred about what more we have to do, why we need to do it, how we can do it.I think the most important statement’s going to be made as we see women this weekend watching, hopefully those who are able to see the film, but also being able to march across the country. Seeing women voice their concern, whether it’s about Trump, whether it’s just about how women should be treated and respected, how they are not yet being respected in a way that they deserve to be respected, and what more there is to do.
I’m looking forward to being at Sundance but I might add Dominic, that you mentioned Harvey Weinstein. Some of my Weinstein clients, of whom there are many, some who have gone public, and many who have not, some have alleged that they, in fact, were victimized at Sundance. So the fact that our film now is going to be shown at Sundance, it’s an important place where women are going to say we don’t want this to happen again. We want to stand up for ourselves.