Television

How ‘SNL’ went after Harvey Weinstein — and sexual harassment in Hollywood

FILE - In this April 28, 2017 file photo, Harvey Weinstein attends the "Reservoir Dogs" 25th anniversary screening during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. On Saturday, Oct. 14, 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revoked Weinstein's membership. The decision, reached Saturday in an emergency session, comes in the wake of recent reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine that revealed sexual harassment and rape allegations against him going back decades. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Harvey Weinstein.

WASHINGTON — ‘‘Saturday Night Live’’ this week addressed allegations that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed women, after facing criticism last week for not including any jokes about the unfolding controversy.

The NBC flagship comedy show first focused on the Weinstein allegations during ‘‘Actress Round Table.’’ The recurring sketch has always focused on the mistreatment of women in Hollywood and representation of women in movies, but its gag is that Kate McKinnon plays Debette Goldry, an older actress who faced unspeakable treatment during the golden age of Hollywood, and makes kooky remarks.

On Saturday, Aidy Bryant introduced Goldry as ‘‘the winner of the Humphrey Bogart Good Sport award.’’

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‘‘In light of the news about Harvey Weinstein,’’ Bryant asked in the sketch, ‘‘have you ever experienced sexual harassment in Hollywood?’’

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‘‘But of course, yes,’’ said Marion Cotillard (Cecily Strong).”Yes, absolutely,’’ added Viola Davis (Leslie Jones).

‘‘Have I ever been sexually harassed? Good Friday, where do you want me to start?’’ Goldry quipped. ‘‘Women being harassed is Hollywood. Everything old is new again - producers are abusing starlets, there’s Nazis marching in the street, suddenly nude pantyhose are on trend - I’ve never felt more at home! When’s polio coming back?’’

Bryant then asked whether the actresses on the panel have ever had experiences with Weinstein or other producers - yielding the most brutal joke at Weinstein’s expense.

‘‘One time a producer asked if I was comfortable with nudity, but it turns out he meant his own,’’ Cotillard said. Then Goldry chimed in:

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‘‘I actually did have one meeting with Harvey. I was invited to his hotel room, and when I arrived, he was naked, hanging upside from a monkey bar. He tried to trick me into thinking his genitals were actually his face. The resemblance is uncanny.’’

‘‘Actress Round Table’’ only features women, so host Kumail Nanjiani didn’t appear in it. But perhaps the show’s writers saw this familiar construction - along with McKinnon’s powerhouse comedic abilities on full display - as the best, and safest, way to talk about Weinstein and get laughs, even if the host was absent.

Later in the show, Weekend Update began immediately with Weinstein jokes.

‘‘Apple announced it will add hundreds of new emojis to its iOS system including a person at a spa, a vomiting face and a shushing finger - finally giving emoji fans the ability to describe what it was like to work for Harvey Weinstein,’’ Colin Jost said.

Jost then said Weinstein, accused by multiple women of sexual assault, is ‘‘reportedly going to Europe for sex rehab.’’

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‘‘Somehow I don’t think that’s going to help anybody. He doesn’t need sex rehab. He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars, and it’s a prison,’’ Jost said, to roaring applause.

A photo of Weinstein then appeared and co-anchor Michael Che said, ‘‘This is a tough spot for a comedian because it’s so hard to make jokes about sexual assault, but it’s so easy to make jokes about a guy who looks like this. I mean, he looks like chewed bubble gum rolled in cat hair.’’

Che added: ‘‘Weinstein told reporters ‘that we all make mistakes,’’’ but ‘‘you assaulted dozens of women - that’s not a mistake, that’s a full season of ‘Law and Order.’’’

As the previous season has shown, ‘‘SNL’’ has become adept at incorporating late-breaking political news into its cold opens and Weekend Update segments. But they’re often politically charged jokes aimed at President Trump.

So when ‘‘SNL’’ lacked Weinstein jokes last week, some conservatives accused the show of a liberal bias, saying it was quick to skewer Trump but not Weinstein, a financial backer of Democrats and liberal causes.

‘‘SNL’’ reportedly tried out some Weinstein jokes during a sketch and Weekend Update, but cut them during its dress rehearsal because they fell flat with the studio audience, the New York Times reported, citing ‘‘a person familiar with the preparations’’ for the episode. That person also said executive producer Lorne Michaels’s comment that the Weinstein story was ‘‘a New York thing’’ referred to a belief that it was a media story that hadn’t gained traction with a national audience.

The Times’ first investigative piece was then three days old. It revealed numerous settlements with women and accusations of sexual harassment against Weinstein, including one made on the record by Ashley Judd. The following week, the New Yorker published its own bombshell report, which included more serious allegations, including rape.

Now, more than a dozen women have publicly come forward, detailing a similar pattern of abuse. Weinstein was fired from the company he co-founded, and the Oscar academy voted to expel him. The Washington Post, in interviews with 67 people, found three previously unreported allegations of sexual or physical assault, as well as a pattern of ruthlessness and manipulation, going back decades to the start of his career.

Weinstein’s representative, Sallie Hofmeister, said regarding on-the-record allegations, Weinstein ‘‘believes that all of those relationships were consensual’’ and that ‘‘any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.’’