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Screen Actors Guild Lets Morgan Freeman Keep His Lifetime Achievement Award

Screen Actors Guild Lets Morgan Freeman Keep His Lifetime Achievement Award


Morgan Freeman will get to keep his lifetime achievement award from the screen actors union after it completed an investigation into reports of inappropriate behavior toward several women, the union said on Thursday.

Mr. Freeman was the subject of a CNN report in May in which he was accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by several women, all of them anonymous, except for one of the story’s reporters, Chloe Melas, who wrote that Mr. Freeman had leered and made lewd comments at her. (Another woman named in the article, Tyra Martin, a Chicago-based journalist, said she believed her comments had been misrepresented and that she had not been harassed by Mr. Freeman.)

The women in the article described behavior including unwanted touching on movie sets and fostering a toxic workplace culture at Revelations Entertainment, the production company Mr. Freeman co-founded with the producer Lori McCreary.

Following the article, the union, SAG-Aftra, said that the accusations were “compelling and devastating” and that it would be looking into what “corrective actions may be warranted at this time,” referring to the lifetime achievement award Mr. Freeman received earlier in the year.

In a statement first reported on Thursday by the entertainment news website Deadline, SAG-Aftra said that it had conducted an independent investigation and that it would be taking no action. It said that the details of the investigation were confidential.

It was unclear whether the union spoke to Ms. Melas, or tried to identify and contact any of the women in her article. SAG-Aftra declined to comment beyond its statement. Ms. Melas did not respond to a request for comment, and CNN declined to do so.

After the initial article, Mr. Freeman issued a statement saying: “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.” The next day, Mr. Freeman sent a second statement that said: “I also want to be clear: I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”

His team eventually sent a 10-page letter to CNN demanding a retraction. The network said it stood by its report.

A representative for Mr. Freeman declined to comment on the union’s decision Thursday.

After CNN published its article, Visa announced it would be suspending the use of Mr. Freeman’s voice in their commercials, and the Vancouver, Canada, transit system did the same on a planned marketing campaign that would have had Mr. Freeman’s voice on its loudspeakers.

However, Mr. Freeman has recently seen an uptick in his fortunes. Last month, it was announced that he was going to be honored by the Deauville Film Festival in France and that the National Geographic Channel was welcoming him back to the documentary series, “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.” Production for the show had been halted after the CNN piece.

He was also in the trailer that Walt Disney Studios released for “The Nutcracker and The Four Realms,” which comes out on Nov. 2. Mr. Freeman plays Drosselmeyer in the movie.



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