Michael Egan (left) and Bryan Singer
When Michael Egan filed a lawsuit
accusing director Bryan Singer of sexual abuse, the allegations got all of Hollywood talking – and some scrambling to figure out the next steps for his upcoming movies and TV shows.
The lawsuit – in which Egan, 31, alleges the director forced him into sex when Egan was an aspiring teen actor lured into a drug-fueled party scene notorious within Hollywood's entertainment industry – has cast an intense spotlight on Singer, 48, whose film X-Men: Days of Future Past
is set for release on May 23.
Singer's attorney, Marty Singer (no relation), has vehemently denied the accusations, calling them "completely fabricated." He also says he has extensive documentation that the director was not in Hawaii when Egan alleges some of the abuse occurred there from August 1999 through early 2000.
Further, Singer's legal team points to a lawsuit from 2000 in which Egan leveled "virtually identical" charges against three other parties but did not mention Singer. Egan and his attorney, Jeff Herman, maintain the past lawsuit doesn't mean there weren't other abusers involved.
On Monday, Herman, Egan and Egan's mother Bonnie Mound announced they were filing more lawsuits against three other lesser-known entertainment executives, Garth Ancier, Gary Goddard and David Neuman.
Herman says the cases involve longstanding issues of power and sex abuse in Hollywood.
"So many people have told me, 'This has been going on for years in Hollywood,' " says Herman.
"Everyone is talking about" the allegations, says one studio insider. "It's sort of the age-old story of Hollywood, isn't it? You have people who will use their power to exploit others on one hand, and of course you have those who will try to shake people down on the other. That's Hollywood."
A lawyer for Goddard said Monday: "We have not seen the complaint. Based on what we have heard, the allegations are without merit."
Meanwhile, an attorney for Ancier released this statement, according to TMZ
: "All of the allegations made by [Egan] against Garth Ancier are demonstrably untrue, and we are confident the courts will agree when the evidence is presented."
And Neuman denied the claims on Twitter
: "I just want everyone to know right now that the ... disgusting allegations made against me are COMPLETELY FALSE."
While the case works its way through the legal system, there have already been changes in Singer's promotional duties for X-Men
: The director skipped a planned appearance at the L.A. fan convention WonderCon on April 19, and a source says reporters were asked to avoid questions about Singer.
How else could the scandal affect the director and his many high-profile projects?
The press junket for X-Men: Days of Future Past
remains scheduled for May 2-4, with multiple red-carpet premieres to follow. Fox has not yet announced whether Singer will attend as previously planned.
Could the controversy affect the movie at the box office? Most industry watchers don't think so. The six X-Men
films already released have amassed more than $2 billion in box-office.
"A franchise like X-Men
really does go on despite things that happen," says Jeff Bock, senior analyst of box office tracking at Exhibitor Relations. "These huge summer blockbusters kind of roll on their own. We're talking about about one of the bigger franchises in Hollywood, and at this point you could go forward with or without Bryan Singer. Now if this were a personal film of Bryan Singer's, one that he always wanted to make, I think it would have a much bigger effect on the box office take, but considering this is probably one of the top five films of the summer, things like [the lawsuit] just don't resonate that far."
In the wake of the scandal, ABC reportedly pulled promos touting Singer's involvement as executive producer of the new drama Black Box.
The director also executive produces the upcoming CBS drama Battle Creek,
which does not yet have an air date.
Filmmaker Amy Berg, best known for her 2006 Oscar-nominated documentary Deliver Us from Evil,
which examined the sex scandal involving Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady, confirmed
to The Daily Mail
that she has been working on a documentary exposing sex abuse in Hollywood for the past two years.
With reporting by GABRIELLE OLYA and ELIZABETH LEONARD