TV host in bitter exchange with actor Hoffman over ‘harassment’

NEW YORK-American film star Dustin Hoffman had a tense exchange on Monday night with a prominent male TV host, who accused Hoffman of responding unsatisfactorily to accusations of sexual harassment.

HBO host John Oliver took Hoffman, 80, to task during a debate organized in New York for the 20th anniversary of the film “Wag the Dog.”

The movie about a presidential sex scandal starred Hoffman as well as Robert De Niro and Anne Heche.

A flurry of sexual assault allegations has occurred this year against powerful men in the US entertainment, media and political worlds.

The flood began in October with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused by more than 100 women of behavior ranging from intimidation to rape.

Among those also accused was Hoffman. Writing in the Hollywood Reporter, the author Anna Graham Hunter accused him of putting his hand on her buttocks and of making suggestive comments.

At the time, she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the “Death of a Salesman” TV film.

Oliver reminded Hoffman of these accusations and criticized his response as insufficient.

Hoffman, who starred in numerous films including “Rain Man” and “All the President’s Men,” said he did not remember the episode from more than 30 years ago.

He added that he did not believe he had done harm, and his conversations on the set were typical of those among members of a “family.”

Oliver called that the “kind of response to this stuff that really pisses me off” and, referring to Hunter’s allegations, said “there is no point in her lying.”

The discussion continued in an increasingly acrimonious manner, almost monopolizing the hour-long debate in which De Niro also participated.

At one point in his defense, Hoffman referred to his 1982 role in “Tootsie,” when he played a woman.

He recalled telling his wife “that I never realized men were that were brutal.”

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