Former Mad Men producer Marti Noxon has come forward to support a writer on the show who said creator Matthew Weiner was a bully who sexually harassed her. Earlier this month, Kater Gordon, who won an Emmy for her work on the show, said during a late-night writing session Weiner suggested she “owed” it to him to let her see him naked. In Noxon’s statement, per The Hollywood Reporter, the producer says she recalls hearing about the encounter after it allegedly happened. “I believe her,” Noxon wrote. “I was at work with her the day after what she described transpired. I remember clearly how shaken and subdued Kater was — and continued to be from that day on.” Noxon described Weiner as a “emotional terrorist,” and said the staff was reluctant to report him because he was so powerful.
A representative for Weiner denied Gordon’s accusation after it was published on The Information, saying, “Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on Mad Men as his writers assistant. He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague.” Read Noxon’s full recollection below:
About a week ago Kater Gordon, a young female writer who worked on Mad Men bravely came forward with her account of being sexual harassed by Matt Weiner. While sharing writing duties with him, she recalls that he causally mentioned something to the effect of “you owe it to me to show me your naked body.” I believe her. I was at work with her the day after what she described transpired. I remember clearly how shaken and subdued Kater was — and continued to be from that day on.
Responding to her statement, Matt claimed he would never make that kind of comment to a colleague. But anyone with an even cursory knowledge of the show Mad Men could imagine that very line coming from the mouth of Pete Campbell. Matt, Pete’s creator, is many things. He is devilishly clever and witty, but he is also, in the words of one of his colleagues, an “emotional terrorist” who will badger, seduce and even tantrum in an attempt to get his needs met. This personality type can not help but create an atmosphere where everyone is constantly off guard and unsure where they stand. It is the kind of atmosphere where a comment like “you owe it to me to show me your naked body” may — or may not — be a joke. And it may — or may not — lead to a demotion or even the end of a career.
Everyone at Mad Men, regardless of gender or position, was affected by this atmosphere. Why did we not confront him more or report him to our parent companies? Well, for one, we were grateful to him for the work and truly in awe of his talents. For another, it was hard to know what was real when moods and needs shifted so frequently. Self-advocacy is important and I agree we all need to do it more and rely on less on faulty institutions to do it for us. But it is very difficult when the cost is, at best, fear and uncertainty — and at worst the loss of a job and ruined reputation.
Taking that action is one thing to contemplate if you have money in the bank and family to fall back on — but quite another for people from all walks of life without a safety net. And when sexual favors are lightly added to the bag of tools one might use to stay employed and valued, it can be destabilizing or even devastating. It may not be illegal, but it is oppressive. I witnessed it and, despite the fact that that I was a senior consultant on the show, I also experienced it in my own way in my days at Mad Men. I believe Kater Gordon.