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The stunning collapse of Kevin Spacey's house of cards

Josh Rottenberg and Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

With Spacey, that distance required a removal of the man himself.

"His career as he knows it, his stature in the industry, is over," said Elizabeth Toledo, a crisis PR expert and president of Camino PR. "There's no legal or 1/8public relations3/8 strategy that's going to restore it."

The collapse of Spacey's career is just the latest in a string of dramatic events that have engulfed the entertainment industry in the past month. As long-hidden allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced against industry heavyweights including Weinstein, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, director Brett Ratner, and most recently, Louis C.K., most have lost jobs, deals and supporters.

"Just because these stories haven't been heard, doesn't mean these stories haven't been told," said Leigh Gilmore, a women's and gender studies professor at Wellesley College. "They just haven't gained traction. What we're seeing now is a new level of awareness, a new level of accountability. The abusers are actually suffering consequences for their actions."

In Spacey's case, a seemingly self-centered initial response to the first allegation against him made an already serious problem worse. On Oct. 29, Buzzfeed released a report in which actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey had made sexual advances toward him decades ago when he was just 14 years old. Hours later, Spacey issued a statement that quickly pivoted from an apology for the incident, which he said he couldn't remember, to a declaration that "I now choose to live as a gay man." The statement triggered a swift backlash.

"I think his statement was the worst thing he could have possibly said," said Danny Deraney, a Los Angeles-based public relations executive. "The two points did not go hand in hand. The fact that he is gay has nothing to do with anything. It was poorly managed altogether."

By Friday, Nov. 3, as more allegations surfaced, Netflix announced that the actor would no longer be involved in the final season of "House of Cards," in which the actor has starred for five seasons as Machiavellian political leader Frank Underwood. Production had already been put on hold, but a decision on the show's future -- without its leading man -- will likely become clearer after Thanksgiving, when production is set to resume, according to a source close to production who was not authorized to speak publicly. At the same time, Netflix announced that it would "not be moving forward with" another Spacey project, a biopic about writer Gore Vidal, which had recently wrapped shooting and was slated for release next year. A release, even through another distributor, is unlikely.

As for "The Carol Burnett Show" special, CBS opted to cut Spacey from it too. A source close to production said no decision has been made on whether the musical numbers will be reshot.

The future of Spacey's other major upcoming project, the drama "Billionaire Boys Club," in which he costars alongside a young ensemble cast including Ansel Elgort and Emma Roberts, is unclear. The independent film, which wrapped last year, is seeking distribution -- a task that will no doubt be more difficult in the wake of the scandal.

"Its very different now," Toledo said. "Fifteen years ago, people in a position like Kevin Spacey would have had legal and PR strategies to move beyond this -- even frankly a year ago or six months ago, his trajectory would have been a lot easier. Now it's very difficult for people to have this level of accusation in the public sphere and be able to recover."

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