John Oliver Grills Dustin Hoffman on Sexual Harassment Statement

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Dustin Hoffman, John Oliver

Getty Images Dustin Hoffman, John Oliver

HBO host John Oliver got into a hate argument with Dustin Hoffman about the sexual harassment allegations made against the 80-year-old actor in recent months. Why didn't I say something? She was 17-year-old production intern at the time and says, "He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me". At a screening commemorating the 20th anniversary of the film "Wag the Dog", Oliver asked the Oscar-winning actor about the claims made against him recently by an actress.

"You've put me on display here", Hoffman reportedly said. A second woman, producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, later told Variety that Hoffman propositioned her during a 1991 meeting.

The panel was the second major public appearance by Hoffman following the sexual harassment allegations. "It's shocking to me you don't see me more clearly", he eventually said to Oliver about his continued badgering, "That you go by a couple of things you read".

Hoffman previously apologized in a statement to Hunter, saying he was sorry for "anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation". You've given no evidence to show that it didn't happen.

"First of all, it didn't happen the way she reported", Hoffman replied, later adding that his comments had been misconstrued "at the click of a button". "It is reflective of who you were".

Charles Durning and Dustin Hoffman in 'Tootsie'.

Several times Oliver sought to move on and talk about the film but Hoffman returned to the subject of harassment, growing testy as he said Oliver was not keeping an "open mind" and was "unquestionably believing accusers".

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"You also have the way men and women worked together [in the past]; you are in a situation where 'that was then, this is now, '" Rosenthal said.

Hoffman, though, doesn't agree and replied saying "It's hard to ask that question, you weren't there", to which Oliver counter-replied "I'm glad". Oliver shot back: "I'm glad".

"At 49, I understand what Dustin Hoffman did as it fits into the larger pattern of what women experience in Hollywood and everywhere", she wrote in the column. Hoffman replied. "From a few things you've read you've made an incredible assumption about me".

Others took a dim view of Oliver's questioning, arguing that he overstepped his bounds as panel host. He reminded Oliver and the audience that this was 40 years ago. While many others have been completely tarnished or fired due to allegations, Hoffman has seemed to remain unscathed.

If you watch the cellphone videoembedded above that reporter Steven Zeitchik took - and you really should, because me describing the discomfort level here is no substitute for seeing it firsthand - it's clear that both Hoffman and the audience in no way expected or were prepared to be having this conversation.

Hoffman and Oliver did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

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