PARK CITY, Utah ― Gloria Allred is no longer just a crusading lawyer:She’s now a Hollywood headliner, having splashed around last month’s Sundance Film Festival, where her documentary, “Seeing Allred,” premiered ahead of its Feb. 9 Netflix release.
There, in addition to speaking at the Women’s March rally, she was subjected to the sort of press junket all too familiar to movie stars ― the kind where she was seated in a nondescript condo suite for hours while a parade of journalists, one after the next, sat before her with their allotted 20 minutes’ worth of questions.
I was one of those journalists, and let me tell you this: Gloria Allred knows her talking points. No matter the query, her answers tended to contain well-packaged legal advice and testimony about her commitment to helping women “speak out about injustices they have felt in their lives.”
Allred’s chief message during my time with her was to urge survivors of sexual assault and harassment to seek an attorney’s counsel before contacting the media or logging an allegation on Twitter. And it appears she knows a handful of women who’ve done exactly that.
In fact, Allred said she’s currently representing clients with allegations against “high-profile figures” who have yet to be exposed by the #MeToo movement.
Despite her misgivings about social media, Allred did acknowledge that the court of public opinion has made an impact. “Many wrongdoers are facing very serious consequences, even though there is no civil lawsuit filed or criminal case brought against them, and there may never be,” she said. “They’re facing consequences to their careers, and they’re on the defensive. They’ve always been on the offensive, but now suddenly there’s a power shift, and they’re on the defensive.”
“[Women are] feeling very empowered,” she added, “and a lot of the men in Hollywood are shaking in their boots and saying, ‘Oh my god, am I going to be next?’ And many of them are, because I’m contacting many of them and their names are not in the news.”
Unsurprisingly, Allred didn’t elaborate further, except to say these individuals “may be surprised because they may have underestimated the commitment of their victim to [take action].”
Such action forms the backbone of “Seeing Allred,” directed by Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman, who last collaborated on the World War II documentary “Above and Beyond.” The film shows Allred at work, tracing her roots as an activist, her own rape and subsequent abortion, and her eminent role in recent cases against Bill Cosby, President Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein.
“Allred” also touches on her daughter Lisa Bloom’s legal career. Bloom defended three women who accused now-disgraced Fox News heavyweight Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment. But she also briefly advised Weinstein and reportedly tried to discredit a journalist pursuing a story about former Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, which left some questioning Bloom’s commitment to ousting alleged wrongdoers.
When I asked Allred about Bloom’s work, Allred insisted that she and her daughter don’t talk about cases or the broader movement. “I haven’t discussed #MeToo with either my daughter or my granddaughter,” she said before changing the subject to quote a speech she’d delivered at a dinner during Sundance.
Naturally, “Seeing Allred” is an especially timely documentary, given the continuing cycle of #MeToo-related news. But Allred said she agreed to participate in the film “months before we even knew the Bill Cosby story would break, before President Trump [was] elected by the Electoral College, before Harvey Weinstein.” As she tells it, it took the directors two years to persuade her to commit to the project.
“It just worked out because they were able to cover so many issues that I’ve been working on for 42 years,” she said, “and in a way that they could understand what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how important it is that persons who are victims, or believe that they are, speak up.”