A former staff writer on the hit show Mad Men accused the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, of sexual harassment in a story published Thursday by the Information. The incident took place nearly a decade ago, when then 27-year-old Kater Gordon was working as a writers assistant on the hit AMC show. Gordon had gotten her start as Weiner’s personal assistant and rose through the ranks first as a writers assistant and later as a staff writer for the show.
Gordon recounted that while working as a writers assistant, Weiner gave her what she thought was her big break: an opportunity to co-write the show’s season two finale with him. In August 2008, they began work on the episode, divvying up storylines, and going over them together. At one point, Gordon says Weiner told her he planned to hire her as a staff writer for the following season. But everything unraveled. From the Information:
Toward the end of the writing process, while working late at night together in Mr. Weiner’s production office, Ms. Gordon says Mr. Weiner shocked her with a remark. “He told me that I owed it to him to let him see me naked,” she said.
She says she froze and tried to brush it off. The two kept working that night in the office.
“It felt like a lose-lose situation,” she said, adding that she felt “threatened and devalued.” Confronting him would end her career, she believed, and not doing so would make it impossible to work with him.
Gordon says she told a colleague at the time of Weiner’s comment, but didn’t report the incident for fear of reprisals. The incident, she says, took a toll and shook her confidence. Gordon was put on the show’s writing staff for season three, but colleagues saw a difference in her demeanor; Gordon was more subdued at work, as if something had changed. “Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on Mad Men as his writers assistant,” a spokesman for Weiner said in a statment. “He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague.”
In September 2009, Gordon and Weiner accepted an Emmy for the episode they co-wrote. A few weeks later, however, Weiner fired Gordon on the phone. Even in the fickle world of Hollywood, the timing was unusual given the critical acclaim for their work together. Gordon hasn’t worked in television since being let go from Mad Men eight years ago. She is currently launching a nonprofit called Modern Alliance to help sexual harassment victims.