Five women have come forward to accuse the popular comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct, including masturbating in front of them, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The article, which includes four on-the-record accusations regarding incidents dating back to more than a decade ago, comes a month after an initial Times report about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which sent shock waves through Hollywood. Soon, others began to come forward with stories, ranging from unwanted advances to assault, against big-name executives and entertainers.
C.K.'s publicist, Lewis Kay, did not immediately return The Washington Post's inquiry. "Louis is not going to answer any questions," Kay told the Times via email on Tuesday.
C.K. has been commonly cited as one of the country's best stand-ups, as he's played massive theaters, created the critically acclaimed FX series "Louie" and directed and starred in the new film "I Love You, Daddy," which was scheduled to be released this month.
That will no longer happen, according to the film company The Orchard.
"The Orchard will not be moving forward with the release of 'I Love You, Daddy,'" the distributor announced Friday morning.
Chicago comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov told the Times that they wanted to celebrate their performance at a 2002 comedy festival in Aspen, and Louis C.K. - whom they both admired and said seemed collegial - invited them to his hotel room for drinks. The women said that when they got into the room, he asked to take out his penis, and although they thought it was a joke, he did, and then masturbated in front of them.
Comic and actress Abby Schachner told the Times that a year later, she called C.K. to invite him to one of her shows, and that he masturbated on the call with her. Comic Rebecca Corry told the newspaper that C.K. asked, while they were on the set of a TV pilot together, if he could masturbate in front of her. The Times also reported a fifth accusation from an unnamed woman.
Before the allegations became public, the Thursday New York premiere of "I Love You, Daddy" was abruptly canceled, as was an appearance on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert." After the allegations became public, The Orchard issued a statement.
"In light of the allegations concerning Louis C.K. referenced in today's New York Times, we are cancelling tonight's premiere of 'I Love You, Daddy,' " the company said. "There is never a place for the behavior detailed in these allegations."
"I Love You, Daddy" stars the comic as a TV writer-producer who struggles with how to handle his 17-year-old daughter and the interest shown in her by an esteemed filmmaker, who is four times her age and a rumored pedophile.
The trailer and some scenes had already raised eyebrows before Thursday. Early in the film, a character played by Charlie Day spends nearly 45 seconds mimicking masturbating while others around him are discussing a famous actress.
FX Networks issued the following statement Thursday: "We are obviously very troubled by the allegations about Louis C.K. published in The New York Times today. The network has received no allegations of misconduct by Louis C.K. related to any of our 5 shows produced together over the past 8 years. FX Networks and FXP take all necessary actions to protect our employees and thoroughly investigate any allegations of misconduct within our workplace. That said, the matter is currently under review."
C.K., who started his career in the 1980s standup comedy heyday, is known for his observational humor that's often dark or self-deprecating, and his material has increasingly covered challenging territory such as abortion and suicide.
Unsubstantiated rumors about behavior similar to that described by the Times have circulated online for years. When asked about Gawker"s 2012 a blind item, Louis C.K. told Vulture last year, "That's nothing to me. That's not real." In September, he also told the Times that "they're rumors, that's all it is."
"If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real," he said.
Some notable comics have also talked publicly about his reputation. Tig Notaro said in August: "I think it's important to take care of that, to handle that, because it's serious to be assaulted. It's serious to be harassed. It's serious, it's serious, it's serious." Roseanne Barr also talked about what she had heard.
C.K. is listed as an executive producer of Notaro's "One Mississippi," which includes a story line of a man who forces a woman in the workplace to watch him masturbate. She told the Daily Beast that "he's never been involved" in the series.
Comedian Jen Kirkman in a 2015 podcast talked about an unnamed comic who mistreated her, who many assumed to be C.K. She later deleted the episode, saying she was misunderstood.
"He has never done that to me," she told the Village Voice in September. "What I said was, when you hear rumors about someone, and they ask you to go on the road with them, this is what being a woman in comedy is like - imagine if there's always a chance of rain over your head but (with) men, there isn't. So you go, 'Should I leave the house with an umbrella, or not?' "
After the Times published its story, Kirkman tweeted:
"Though he apologized for his one time comment to me, I will no longer casually call Louie a friend. I can't support what I now KNOW are his contributions to the power dynamic in this business."