November 11, 2017
Following the accusations by Dreyfuss’ son that he was groped by Kevin Spacey, he tweeted in support.
Now, he himself is being accused of weird Jew pervert acts.
But as Los Angeles–based writer Jessica Teich read the elder Dreyfuss’s tweet, she grew “bothered,” she says. “When I read about his support for his son, which I would never question, I remember thinking, But wait a minute, this guy harassed me for months,” Teich told me in an interview. “He was in a position of so much power over me, and I didn’t feel I could tell anyone about it. It just seemed so hypocritical.” She began drafting a Facebook post that she shared with her friends, one of whom is a New York staff member, who gave Teich my number. The harassment, Teich says, was constant over a two- to three-year period in the mid-1980s when she worked as a researcher and junior writer on a TV passion-project of Dreyfuss’s — and included an incident where she says that he exposed himself to her.
The project was an ABC comedy special called Funny, You Don’t Look 200: A Constitutional Vaudeville, which Dreyfuss dreamed up, hosted, co-wrote, and produced to mark the bicentennial of the American Constitution. When Teich and Dreyfuss began working together in 1984 — first at the Mark Taper Forum theater in Los Angeles, where they met, and then on 200 — Teich was in her mid-20s and in an entry-level job, fresh out of grad school. Dreyfuss was 12 years older, married with a child, and starring in a play at the Taper, where Teich was a dramaturg. At the time, he held the record for becoming the youngest Best Actor Academy Award winner ever. “He wasn’t that much older than I was, but in every possible way his position in life couldn’t have been less comparable to mine,” says Teich. “That’s how vast the power differential was. He was famous, he was rich, he had an Oscar.” And, as she pointed out to me emphatically, “He was my boss. There was no question about it.”
While they were both at the Taper, Dreyfuss had asked Teich to work on developing 200 with him, first on an informal basis over lunches, and then with the formal backing of the Disney Channel, where they had a tiny production office. Over the next several years, they spent countless hours together developing the script. One day, deep into the development process, with the TV special set to air in October 1987, Teich says Dreyfuss asked her to meet him in his trailer on the Los Angeles studio lot of a movie he was starring in at the time. As with all her script meetings with Dreyfuss, this one was set up by his female secretary. (The secretary could not be reached for comment.)
“I remember walking up the steps into the trailer and turning towards my left,” says Teich, “and he was at the back of the trailer, and just — his penis was out, and he sort of tried to draw me close to it.” Dreyfuss never asked for her to fellate him or jerk him off, Teich says, but she remembers the situation being unambiguous. “He was hard. I remember my face being brought close to his penis,” she continues. “I can’t remember how my face got close to his penis, but I do remember that the idea was that I was going to give him a blow job. I didn’t, and I left.”
How she extricated herself, she can’t recall. “It was like an out-of-body experience. I just tried to swiftly get out of the room. I pretended it hadn’t really happened,” she says. “I kept moving because it was part of my job, and I knew he was, at the time, a very important guy, and certainly important to me. I trusted him. That’s what’s always so weird. I liked him. That’s part of why it’s so painful, because of the level of innocence one brings to these things. I felt responsible, that I must have indicated in some way that I was available for this.”
Teich says that, at the time, she told no one about the exposure incident, or what she claims were years of continual, overt, lewd comments and invitations from Dreyfuss. “He created a very hostile work environment, where I felt sexualized, objectified, and unsafe,” says Teich. The exposure in the trailer, she says, was the most shocking Dreyfuss’s behavior got, but perhaps more pernicious, she contends, was that she couldn’t do her job without him coming on to her. She’s referring to moments when Dreyfuss tried to kiss her in professional settings, slip her “I love you” notes during meetings, and his unsubtle verbal sneak attacks. “He has that way of sidling up to you and saying things like, ‘I want to fuck you,’” Teich says. “That was said all the time. He would constantly steer conversations to this yucky, insinuating thing, and I would sort of try to pull us back to a place where we could actually get some work done.” Throughout the research process, Teich says, Dreyfuss set up multiple trips where it was just the two of them, to Yale, Stanford, and Washington, D.C. One morning, when they were going to meet with Ronald Reagan, Teich recalls, Dreyfuss “told me he’d spent the night with his ear next to the wall, listening to my movements in my hotel room.”
The pattern continues…