Lisa Wilkinson has hit back at actor Richard Dreyfuss in a fiery open letter, after he accused her and her The Project co-stars of making him feel like he’d been “mugged” in a recent interview.
Dreyfuss was questioned on the show about the current #MeToo campaign and his alleged sexual misconduct. A day later, he appeared on rival network Channel Nine’s Today Extra where he claimed he and guest Kathleen Turner were invited on The Project for a “light, friendly chat”, but didn’t expect the eventual outcome.
“I was mugged the other night in Sydney, Australia. Not by a petty thief, but by the host and hostesses of a talk show called The Project,” the Jaws star claimed.
Now, having shared a brief tweet about the claims earlier this week, Lisa has hit back in a lengthy letter on her Ten Daily column – even accusing the actor of spitting his dummy out.
“Mr Dreyfuss, you were not ambushed on our show. You were not mugged. And we were not unethical. For starters, we had no obligation to forewarn you of any questions we were going to ask,” she wrote, before insisting on this occasion, they actually had written to his publicist first and mentioned they would be talking about #MeToo.
While she listed a series of his achievements at the start, and clearly stated she’s always admired his work, Lisa then added: “Mr Dreyfuss, as a journalist I make no apology for courteously asking an entirely legitimate question about a subject you had spoken of before and which has generated more headlines than anything you’ve done in the last 20 years.”
When the Hollywood star was asked about allegations previously made against him, he responded on the show: “I sinned. Between the years of ’79 and ’82 or ’83 I was a lowdown dirty dog. And I did lots of things that I’m ashamed of now. But they were all culturally supported as all men know . . . and as all women know. They just don’t want to remember it that way.”
Acknowledging his answer in her letter, Lisa then wrote: “Ummmm, sorry? ‘Culturally supported’? What does that even mean? That everyone – very conveniently for the powerful perpetrators – stayed silent?”
She concluded the angry response with: “Your answer on Sunday night was informative and enlightening. And we thanked you for it. But I fear that your dummy spit, and ramblings on the Nine Network on Thursday undermines your initial open and enlightened stance.”
The issue was also addressed on Thursday’s episode of The Project. Although Wilkinson wasn’t present, the other hosts gave their version of what happened, claiming they had email chains of their correspondance with his publicist, while Hamish Macdonald added: “We did not mug Richard Dreyfuss. I have to say I’m shocked and a bit disappointed in this whole thing.”