Gerald Molen, the producer of 2016: Obama’s America, told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday that a sex scandal involving the film’s star and co-director, Dinesh D’Souza, should not be used by detractors to discredit the movie, which is a negative take on President Barack Obama.
The movie has earned $33.4 million, making it the second biggest political documentary in history, partially because evangelical Christians have been attracted to the subject matter and also to D’Souza, who is president of an evangelical college and is a sought-after speaker at evangelical events, where he reportedly earns $10,000 per speech.
That support could wane, though, in the wake of allegations Tuesday that D’Souza had been cavorting with a woman two decades his junior by the name of Denise Odie Joseph II prior to him filing two weeks ago to divorce Dixie, his wife of 20 years. According to a published report, he was also introducing Joseph as his fiancée even though his is married to Dixie.
“I urge all parties concerned to give the D’Souza’s the space to deal with their personal matters,” Molen said in an email to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Their personal challenges have nothing to do with our film,” said Molen, who also produced a string of Steven Spielberg movies including Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, which earned him an Oscar for best picture. “We reject any attempts to use this sensitive personal matter in any way to discredit the film, which stands on its own.”
News of D’Souza’s alleged relationship with a mistress probably won’t hurt distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures because the film is coming to the end of its theatrical run. It comes at a particularly tricky time, though, for Obama’s America Foundation, a company founded by the filmmakers that has been licensing 2016 to churches for about $300 a pop. It’s also bad timing for Lionsgate, which released the DVD on Tuesday.
D’Souza has been married for 20 years and says he has been separated for two years, but only filed for divorce Oct. 3. His involvement with a woman about two decades younger than him was reported first by Warren Cole Smith writing for World Magazine, a Christian publication whose editor in chief, Marvin Olasky, has had a rocky relationship with D’Souza.
Olasky was provost for The King’s College, an evangelical institution inside the Empire State Building in New York, when D’Souza was hired as its president two years ago. A few months later, Olasky resigned and told the publication Christianity Today that “D’Souza and I have different ideas about some things.” The New Republic delved into D’Souza’s connection to Olasky in article Tuesday.
The King’s College says it knew that D’Souza’s marriage was in trouble but that it was in the dark about some details concerning his relationship with Joseph. Its board met with D’Souza to discuss allegations published in The World article and will discuss the matter further at a meeting this week.
"Be assured we take seriously our charge to teach a compelling worldview rooted in the Bible and expect all our leaders to model Christian character and integrity in their public and private lives," The King's College said in a statement emailed to The Hollywood Reporter.