Richard Dreyfuss sounds off on Today.
Richard Dreyfuss sounds off on Today.

Ten hits back at star's on-air rant

VETERAN Hollywood actor Richard Dreyfuss slammed the Channel 10's The Project in a sensational appearance on rival network Nine's Today show this morning.

The Jaws star appeared on the show via satellite from Perth, reading a prepared statement to address his appearance on Sunday night's episode of The Project - one in which panellist Lisa Wilkinson grilled him about his experience of the #metoo movement and an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour that had been against him.

However, a Network Ten spokesperson has hit back at the actor, insisting he and his publicists were made aware ahead of time about the line of questioning - and that The Project wouldn't have had him on without discussing it.

A visibly emotional Dreyfuss slammed the rival network's show, and former Nine star Wilkinson, for several minutes as Today hosts David Campbell and Sonia Kruger sat in silence.

Richard Dreyfuss sounds off on Today.
Richard Dreyfuss sounds off on Today.

Here is Dreyfuss' explosive on-air statement, in full:

"I was mugged the other night in Sydney, Australia. Not by a petty thief but by the host and hostesses of a talk show called The Project. Kathleen Turner and I had been invited on the show to have a light, friendly chat about the autograph show we were participating in Sydney and then Perth. As that invitation to a specifically light and friendly chat was being repeated to us by two or three of the show's staff, questions were prepared and entered into the teleprompters that could be referred to by Lisa Wilkinson and Hamish McDonald, two of the hosts.

Light and friendly did not survive until the end of the first sentence. It was directed as a question to Kathleen: Something about, 'Has Hollywood changed in the last year in its treatment of men towards women?' The second question was directed at me by Lisa.

And just to put this in context, I had been named, I had been accused of sexual misconduct last November 7th. I was asked to remember something that had happened 30 years previously. It was apparently a flirtation that I was involved in and did not know was not consensual. And her question to me was, "Richard did you express your shame because you had worked at realising you had done something shameful or because you had been accused and caught out?"

So why they had made such a point of repeating we were going to have a light and friendly chat while keeping their real questions so secret, I have no idea. But they never asked me to have the chat they wanted to have. I think I might have said "Yes" had they asked it in the proper tone of voice. Instead they chose to commit a breach of ethical behaviour, meant to be malignant and sly and known as wrong by every journalist in the world, unless you're talking to someone who you're trying to entrap because you think that he's a murderer or a rapist. The behaviour of those through whom you get your news is the reason I'm here this morning. It is not about my alleged behaviour then, now, or ever. You can dismiss what I am saying now as I am being defensive or the television personalities involved will just continue to confuse what is right and what is wrong behaviour. I assure you that in my country, there is an enormous decay going on, an assault and drowning of this kind of trickery is going on every day. I would ask why would you want to emulate America at its worst? You should try to emulate America at its very famous best. I would also say that the reason that television hosts and hostesses don't ask the right question is the same reason ours don't. It's that they have a contempt for their viewers and their guests. You should watch out for that. Because that's where you're getting your information. If America does no longer respect the Bill of rights you should. Don't go down with a sinking ship. That's it."

Dreyfuss finished the lengthy monologue uninterrupted.

In a statement provided to news.com.au today, a Network Ten spokesperson said:

"The Project rejects claims that Mr Dreyfuss was misled. In written correspondence with the Supanova publicist, an interview brief was provided three days prior which included the line of questioning The Project panel would put to both Richard Dreyfuss and Kathleen Turner. This included a discussion about their appearances at Supanova but also that the panel would address the #MeToo campaign and Mr Dreyfuss' behaviour towards women in decades past.

Given the public allegations made about Mr Dreyfuss, The Project would not have him on the program without addressing these issues and Mr Dreyfuss' publicist was made aware of this.

At no stage did the program attempt to catch-out or entrap Mr Dreyfuss and it was never the intention of The Project panel to offend him."

After Dreyfuss had finished reading his prepared statement, Campbell and Kruger asked to clarify several aspects of it, including his feelings on the #MeToo movement and his accusations of "trickery" against The Project.

"I have not answered how I feel about the #MeToo movement because there is no shape of a show that allows for a complex question to be asked and answered. Everything has been reduced to eight-second sound bytes. So, therefore, I will not talk about it under those circumstances. It requires an article or a book. And my life is, in fact, a book," he said.

In a surreal end to Dreyfuss' appearance, the hosts finished by cheerfully plugging his upcoming appearances at the Supernova pop culture festival and praising his work in Mr Holland's Opus before explaining they had run out of time.



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