The latest flare-up in Hollywood’s sexual harassment debacle landed blocks away from Loyola with the Chicago Comedy Film Festival (CCFF) pulling comedian Andy Dick’s (“Hoodwinked,” “Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride”) new documentary, “Everybody Has an Andy Dick Story,” from its lineup in light of recent sexual harassment allegations against the actor.
The upcoming festival will be held blocks away from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus at the New 400 Theater (6746 N. Sheridan Ave.) and the Second City Harold Ramis Film Theatre (230 W. North Ave.) Nov. 9-11.
Dick was slated to be in attendance at the 400 Theater for a Q&A with the audience following the screening of his documentary as the festival’s featured celebrity guest. Nov. 2, CCFF dropped the comedian and his film from its lineup in response to sexual harassment allegations against Dick on two separate film sets.
Dick briefly told The Phoenix CCFF was wrong to remove him from the lineup but he wasn’t bothered by it.
“I don’t care. They made a mistake. They took their festival down a notch,” Dick said.
The productions “Raising Buchanan” (2018) and “Vampire Dad” (2018) fired Dick after alleged reports of “groping people’s genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions of at least four members of the production [of ‘Raising Buchanan’],” according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
Dick responded to the allegations in a conversation with THR, saying, “I didn’t grope anybody. I might have kissed somebody on the cheek to say good-bye and then licked them. That’s my thing… It’s me being funny. I’m not trying to sexually harass people.”
The PHOENIX spoke with Cathy Carlson, the director of “Everybody Has an Andy Dick Story,” who commented on CCFF’s handling of the situation.
Carlson explained the documentary “absolutely addresses” Dick’s wild behavior, and how the fesitval raved about the film despite that.
“I think the festival took a risk taking this film in to begin with,” Carlson said. “This is not the first time [an accusation against Dick] has happened.”
Dick has a long history of alleged sexual misconduct in the industry, and Carlson was surprised that CCFF pulled the film.
“Of course [CCFF] has every right [to not want Dick in attendance],” Carlson said. “But it was really surprising to me that they pulled the movie, too.”
Carlson said she and Dick have been friends since their days at Second City in Chicago, where he had the same sense of humor.
“I’m not in support of that crazy behavior,” Carlson said. “But I’ve seen Andy do some of the craziest things and people not only laugh but want him to do it again so they can take pictures of it. It’s the exact same things that he’s being fired for now. He’s guilty of not knowing when to [act crazy] and when not to — that’s for sure — but it’s comedy.”
Jessica Hardy, the artistic director for CCFF, spoke to The PHOENIX concerning the allegations against Dick and the festival’s decision to remove him from its lineup.
Hardy was unsure of the specifics regarding Dick’s firing from the two films, but said she sees the comedian as one example of a much larger problem of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry today. Much of the talk around the topic has been focused on the numerous accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein (“Shakespeare in Love,” “Gangs of New York”) and actor Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty,” “The Usual Suspects”).
“Many of the actors and directors coming in [for the festival] are from Los Angeles, and if you’re in the industry anywhere, [sexual harassment] does exist,” Hardy said. “We can be victims or we can rewrites the rules. [Stopping sexual harassment] starts with saying no to people and drawing the line, instead of just talking about it.”
CCFF released a statement from Hardy regarding its removal of “Everybody Has an Andy Dick Story.”
“Comedy is often revered as an art form where you can cross the line,” Hardy wrote. “Andy Dick was known for doing just this. Blurring lines and pushing boundaries can be funny. But sexual harassment is not, and never has or will be, funny.”
Hardy also highlighted the issue of sexual harassment in Chicago’s comedy scene in her press release.
“This goes beyond Andy Dick. Society and the film industry has been dealing with a black cloud of harassment and silence for too long,” Hardy wrote. “Chicago has had numerous allegations in our comedy community recently come to the surface with little public recognition. There are too many victims asking to be heard.”
Hardy elaborated on the issue of sexual harassment in Chicago entertainment in an email to The PHOENIX.
“I have spent over 10 years in the Chicago comedy community and am aware of the sexism and harassment that exists,” Hardy said. “… Things like teachers commenting on female students’ bodies, coaches hitting on actresses and then rejecting them from shows if the actresses do not go out with them and physical and sexual harassment and assault on and off stage.”
Hardy said victims are repeatedly silenced, and she refused to allow CCFF to add to the problem.
“It is also my understanding that major Chicago media journalists have spoken with several victims but no story has been published,” she said. “The ongoing silencing of victims is one of many contributing factors to our decision to remove the Andy Dick documentary.”
Despite losing its headlining celebrity and film, CCFF will still take place.
The festival has replaced Dick’s documentary with a film from Slamdance film festival co-founder and filmmaker Dan Mirvish, “Bernard and Huey.” Mirvish will be present during the screening.
Multiple new films will be showcased at the festival, such as “Room for Rent,” “For the Love of George” and “Special Unit,” as well as various short films by different directors. Some showings will include panels from the actors and directors such as Michael Aronin, an actor from “Special Unit,” Matt Atkinson, the director of “Room for Rent,” and Petra Bryant, an actress from “For the Love of George.”
Loyola students interested in the event can attend CCFF at the New 400 Theater Nov. 9 -11. Tickets for screenings range from $10-12. Visit www.chicagocomedyfilmfestival.com for more information on screening times and appearances.