Murray recently interviewed former talent agent Michael Ovitz about his new book at the 92nd Street Y. During the panel, the men talked about 1982’s Tootsie, in which Hoffman starred and Murray had a supporting role because the co-founder of Creative Artists Agency (CAA) had secured roles in the film for both actors. That led Murray to take a pause in the conversation to defend Hoffman in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against him.
“Since we’re talking about Dustin Hoffman, I just want to say: Dustin Hoffman is a great man and a really good guy,” Murray said. “And I heard what happened to him, and Dustin Hoffman is a really decent person. He’s a crazy, like a Borscht Belt flirt, he has been his whole life, but he’s a really sweet man.”
Some people applauded at the end of his remarks, but his “unprompted” comments didn’t sit right with everyone.
During an event on the same stage at the 92nd Street Y last December, Hoffman was called out by interviewer and Last Week Tonight host John Oliver over the allegations that he groped an intern while making a TV movie of Death of a Salesman in the mid-’80s. The men went back and forth during the heated exchange after Hoffman noted that in his apology, he used words noting that he didn’t really believe he had done anything wrong. Hoffman said that he didn’t engage in any groping and didn’t recall meeting accuser Anna Graham Hunter. Hoffman said he felt ambushed by Oliver during the panel because he was there with a group — including Robert De Niro — to discuss the 20th anniversary of Wag the Dog.
Oliver later said he “tried and failed” in the conversation. “It felt unavoidable and that we had to have a discussion about it,” Oliver said on The Russell Howard Hour. “It wasn’t ideal that it became such a big story, because then it became about my questions rather than his answers. The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were kind of not great. … The whole thing just made me feel sad.”
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