Scott Rudin is reportedly considering a comeback. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the disgraced film and theater producer known for behaving abusively toward his employees — hurling objects and threats — has been planning his return from East Hampton and Palm Springs, where he has been with his two dogs. Following a series of alarming reports detailing his treatment of employees, Rudin remains repped by WME and backed by powerful billionaires like David Geffen and Barry Diller, who together formed two public LLCs with Rudin for their Broadway investments in West Side Story and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, leading to speculation that Rudin still profits from projects he “stepped back” from. Meanwhile, sources add, his lawyers have obtained large payouts from indie distributor A24 and Broadway financiers. (A24 declined to comment to THR.)
Complicity reportedly comes from all over the industry, even from the celebrities who helped him earn his EGOT. One former assistant, Eric Emauni, recalled Frances McDormand and Joel Coen witnessing Rudin lay into a female assistant while they were at the office. “They sat there, they continued their meeting,” Emauni said. “Right after that, she quit.” McDormand and Coen denied having witnessed this behavior through reps. Emauni, who is now the managing director at LAByrinth Theater Company, was fired in September 2019 for placing a phone call to Diller too early, at which point he says Rudin threatened to call the police on him. “And it was that moment for me, as a Black man, that I said, ‘I need to remove myself from this space,’” he said. “Because, if you can so cavalierly just shout something out like that to your staff, without any consequence to what that means for me, that’s a huge problem.” Calling the police, like pushing people out of cars, was one of Rudin’s frequent intimidation tactics, according to former employees. His lawyer, Thomas A. Clare, denies that his client ever did either.
Rudin’s right hand of 12 years, Eli Bush, remains a producer on The Lehman Trilogy, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and West Side Story. Described as the “Pence of the whole operation” by one former employee, another recalls Bush “just kind of sitting there” in response to Rudin’s abuse. Bush declined to comment. Sources say he remains in close contact with Rudin, taking over his producing duties at A24, including Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, with Denzel Washington and McDormand, and Jennifer Lawrence’s Red, White and Water.
Wes Anderson, who has made seven movies with the producer, won’t be answering questions about Rudin while promoting his upcoming film The French Dispatch, according to his team. Frequent collaborator Aaron Sorkin made no mention of him when announcing their play To Kill a Mockingbird’s return this September. But whatever industry Rudin returns to is one in which stories of his brutality are no longer avoidable. “In my opinion, everyone who’s involved with him is complicit. Everyone,” said Emauni. “You cannot work in any part of Scott’s world and not know what kind of human being he is. It’s not possible.”