On the heels of allegations that Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed and groped a teen intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman, comes forward a second accuser, because that’s 2017 in a nutshell now, apparently. Television writer and producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, who is currently working on season two of National Geographic’s Genius, told Variety that she had met with Hoffman and Tootsie screenwriter Murray Schisgal on two separate occasions about adapting a play she had written, A Darker Purpose, into a Hoffman vehicle.
Riss Gatsiounis, who was in her 20s at the time, said that the first meeting kicked off unprofessionally with Schisgal asking whether she had a boyfriend or husband, and Hoffman, then 53, interrupting to say, “Murray, shut up. Don’t you know you can’t talk to women that way anymore? Times are changing.” It was the second meeting that went really off the rails, however, according to Riss Gatsiounis.
“I go in, and this time it’s, like, Dustin Hoffman’s really different,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “He says, ‘Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy — have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?’” Flustered, Riss Gatsiounis attempted to laugh off the comment. But Hoffman persisted.
“I’ll never forget — he moves back, he opens his arms, and he says, ‘It would be a whole new body to explore,’” she said. “I’m trying to go back to my pitch, and I’m trying to talk about my play. Then Dustin Hoffman gets up and he says he has to do some clothing shopping at a nearby hotel, and did I want to come along? He’s like, ‘Come on, come to this nearby hotel.’”
After she declined repeated invitations back to the hotel with Hoffman, the actor left and Schisgal told her that they weren’t interested in her play after all. Variety reached out to two other writers who were close with Riss Gatsiounis at the time, both of whom corroborated her account of what happened.
As it was pointed out by writer Louis Virtel on Twitter yesterday, this is not the first or second time Hoffman has been accused of this sort of behavior. In a 2008 interview with The A.V. Club, actress Teri Garr detailed inappropriate behavior on the set of Tootsie, which sounds eerily familiar to what Hoffman’s first accuser, Anna Graham Hunter, previously described in her interactions with the actor.
A spokesperson for Hoffman declined to comment, while Schisgal told Variety that he had “no recollection of this meeting or of any of the behavior or actions described.”