Rocking the Couch is particularly interesting as it is really one of the first – if not the first – documentary to come out after #MeToo and #TimesUp that deals explicitly with these movements in telling the story of sexual predator-talent agent Wallace Kaye and the 12 actresses who risked their careers and reputations to finally bring the bastard down.
Despite their victory in court, no one listened – until Rocking the Couch. It is a superb, timely documentary that also takes a very historical look at sexual misdeeds in Hollywood, going all the way back to the Silent Era, “Hollywood’s First Scandal” and Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle (with the Virginia Rappe case) and unfortunately carried forward by the history of the casting couch itself.
Hi Andrea. How are you?
I'm fine. Thank you, Wess. How are you?
To start things off, I was hoping we could get an idea of what inspired you to do Rocking the Couch. I mean, I get #MeToo and #TimesUp but, I was wondering what inspired it as a documentary?
Well, what happened was my friend, Minh [Collins], who is the director, and I, I had worked for Minh as an actress on a project before [2011’s Hit List] and we became very close friends. And so, we were meeting, having coffee, and this was right when the Harvey Weinstein and the Bill Cosby things were going on. And you know, we were just talking about how we didn't think the full story was being told. Do you know? We don't think it kind of stressed how this happens to people just coming to town. Then we knew there were stories that weren't told.
The way it was presented, we didn't feel really told the whole story and we kind of said, "Yeah, somebody's gonna make a good documentary about this." And then we kind of looked at each other and said, "Okay. Let's do this."
Well, there you go. That's excellent. What were the challenges like as Executive Producer on it?
Well, I had never really executive produced before so, the whole thing was kind of a challenge for me. You know, I have never really done anything other than be an actress. So, this was ... even though it's in my industry, but, you know, a whole different point of view. A whole different way of doing things.
But, I think one of the hardest things was finding people who were willing to talk. Even though we made it clear, you don't have to use anybody's names so you don't have to worry about that kind of stuff. We just want you to tell your story. Tell me what happened. And there were a lot of people that turned us down.
Yeah. You know, I would imagine that's a very hard wall to breakthrough.
I think that #MeToo has done a lot to let victims know that it's good to tell your story. But yeah, that's just ... man, that's such a difficult thing to breakthrough.
It's a hard project to get people to talk about. No doubt about it. Because, it's painful. You know? It's painful to dredge up these things. So, it's very difficult.
Do you think that #TimesUp and #MeToo have produced real, lasting, meaningful change for especially women in Hollywood? Or, what could be done better, I guess would be another way of asking that.
Well, I'm hoping that it brings long lasting help for women and women in every line of work actually because, you know, the entertainment industry is not alone in this by any means.
And yeah, I think ... you know, I think by making people ... I think it already has a lasting effect because it's brought it to light. It's in the daylight now. It's not some deep, dark, hidden secret. That in itself will make people think twice. And if people think twice, things won't happen. So, that in itself. Beyond that, we're just gonna have to wait and see.
Definitely. Yeah, I hope it goes in that direction too.
What do you hope audiences will take with them from the film? Aside from that?
Well, I hope when people, a couple different things depending on who is watching the film. I hope those that are not a part of the entertainment industry might watch the film and maybe understand the culture that brought this about a little better. Because, we do go into some describing the past of the casting couch and also the prevalence of it. How we all know, we all knew things like this exist. I mean, you can't work within the entertainment industry and have not seen it because it is such a part of it.
But, also that we are trying to better this profession in this way. And you know, by coming out with a documentary like this, by people coming forward, we are taking responsibility and trying to improve our own workplaces and our own industry. And hopefully people in other industries will see that as well.
And also, I hope that perhaps women that are coming, thinking to coming to Hollywood, and men too, we don't want to exclude men because, it does happen to men. And we reached out to several men. We just couldn't get them to talk. But that people that are coming to Hollywood to try to be part of the entertainment industry maybe can use it as a little bit of a cautionary tale. And you know, and that hey, if you're gonna go meet an agent or a producer, maybe over drinks is not the best way. Maybe.
You know when you were-
You know, or something. Yeah.
Yeah. And my hat goes off to Terry Crews because, trying to get men to talk about this is very difficult. And we tried straight men and gay men. And it was very hard to get anybody to open up.
You know, I think that also sadly kind of reflects some trends in the culture too. Because you see that way under-reporting with men and sex crimes when they happen.
Yeah. I think there's a whole different stigma to men and how they feel when they are a victim and maybe how they feel this ... you know, I'm not a man. I don't know the feeling they're going through.
I do know the feelings women go through. In fact, when you asked me, "Why would I want to do this?" I was going to say, outside of the fact that I am a woman in the entertainment industry, and that in itself makes me want to bring this story to light, I, you know, I think with men, it's just so much more hidden. I think there's all kinds of issues that I, as a woman, don't even understand. But, apparently, it is very hard for men so ... kudos to Terry Crews.
Kudos, indeed. I hope that part of the culture is changing too, where more men and more women won’t hesitate to report.
Pivoting a bit to something less dreary, a question I like to ask everybody, what performances and films would you say shaped you most as an artist?
Oh my gosh. Well, I, like so many people, am, always will be, always have been a fan of Lucille Ball. I just watched her every move. All my life I have watched it. You know, I'm not old enough to have watched it when it first came out but, you know, I've watched her in re-runs all my life and been just fascinated by how wonderful she was. In fact, she was one of two people I set out to meet in the entertainment industry. So, I was so happy to have the honor of sitting on a Friars Club roast podium with her.
…in New York.
And I don't think she had any idea who I was. But just saying hello just made my day.
That's great. Yeah. It just made me think of the work I've done with the National Comedy Center because, that was her vision.
And mostly, the interview I did with Lenny Bruce's daughter, Kitty Bruce for them, so, yeah, that was fun.
One other question that I like to ask most everybody, what makes a great film?
What makes what? What makes a great film?
Mm-hmm (affirmative) It's another big question purposely…
Well, I think what makes a great film simply is a great story. You have to have a story. You know, whether it's a documentary or a feature film or a short or whatever, it's the story that makes the film. You know, if your story is lackluster, all the tricks, the talent going into it, the great performers, the direction, everything still won't make a great film. But sometimes, a great story, maybe not done with a big budget, maybe not done with all the bells and whistles can be a great film.
So to me, it's the story. It's the story that gets you. Every time.
That's a fantastic answer. As you can imagine, I get a variety when I ask that…
I'm sure you do.
The last question I had for you Andrea is, what's next?
Well, I should mention that also right now, I'm on a series on Amazon Prime called The Bay. Because, I am primarily an actress, that's what I've done all my life. But, we are also in talks figuring out our next documentary now.
Oh great. You and Minh [Collins]?
Yes. Me and Minh. So...
...we've had such good response to this and are thinking of some other topics we can rock like Rocking the Couch.
Well, there you go. You know, and you could almost turn the term "Rocking the Couch" into something like a series too.
Absolutely. A docu-series which is kind of what we having in mind and ...
... and I think that a concept of it, you know, loans itself to that. And we purposely didn't make it very long. You know, it's just 65 minutes. And you know, so people can enjoy it, get on with their day but, hopefully, learn something from it and there are so many topics that are current that it's kind of our style.
You know, we didn't want to spend a year editing. We didn't want to do that. We wanted to get a topic that was hot, do it as fast as we could, and get it out as fast as we could. So, while the topic is still, you know, a topic of conversation for people.
So that's kind of our idea. Yeah.
[Catch my interview with Carrie Mitchum "Rockin' the Couch" here .]