Volatile and Vengeful: How Scott Rudin Wielded Power in Show Business

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Even some of his biggest backers say he needs to change.

“He’s had a bad temper,” said the billionaire David Geffen, who alongside his fellow mogul Barry Diller has been co-producing Mr. Rudin’s recent Broadway shows, “and he clearly needs to do anger management or something like that.”

The New York Times interviewed dozens of actors, writers, agents, producers, investors and office assistants who have worked with Mr. Rudin, examined financial records of his stage shows and reviewed court papers from his many legal disputes. What emerged confirmed much of what was detailed by The Hollywood Reporter and provided a fuller picture of how he used and abused power, not only in his offices, but also as he alternately cultivated and castigated colleagues at all levels of the entertainment industry.

“There’s always, with Scott, two sides to the coin, depending on what he wants,” said Robert Fox, a British producer who collaborated with Mr. Rudin for a decade until, as happens with many of Mr. Rudin’s relationships, the two had a contentious falling out. “He can treat people impeccably well, or disgracefully badly, and there’s not much in between.”

After Mr. Rudin’s decades of dominance, his comeuppance — if that’s what it is — arrives as the entertainment industry is contemplating a post-pandemic future that many hope will look different from the past.

The Rudin employee handbook, distributed to new staffers, outlines strict rules of conduct. “Rude, offensive or outrageous behavior” is verboten. Co-workers must treat one another with “patience, respect and consideration.” Be courteous and helpful. Don’t send angry or rude emails.

But employees swiftly learned that there was one person to whom those rules did not apply: the boss.

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