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(and the Top 5 Things Women in Entertainment Say about Sexual Misconduct)

Preface: I'm prepared for criticism and threatening phone calls as a result of writing this, and I understand that I may be banned from walking into a few doors on Wilshire... at least for a little while.

“Congratulations. You five ladies no longer have to pretend like you’re attracted to Harvey Weinstein,” said Seth MacFarlane introducing nominees for best supporting actress at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Foreshadow! I have nothing to say directly about Weinstein or any of the allegations surrounding him. Is that because I have no right to do so, as I've never worked directly with him (but only with his employed agents)? Or is that because I'm scared that I will be shunned from lucrative business opportunities? In Hollywood, so many women are convinced that sexuality and sensuality have the power to influence decisions - from the hiring process to talent casting to rising up on the corporate totem pole.

That's because it's true. I’ve got to be honest: I’m one of those women, who shares with fellow entertainment industry females, the perception that we have to strategically use our allure to thrive in the business.

It's always at a Hollywood girls' dinner at table 13 of Craig's or during the attempt to hide out at a corner table at The Peninsula's Afternoon Tea hour (while waiting to see who gets kicked out of Avi Lerner's table down the corridor prior to his arrival) when I partake in quietly-spoken conversations about the behind-the-scenes synergy of the Hollywood workplace. Whether it be a "[Big Agency]," major studio, independent film business, or even a mom-and-pops unscripted television production company, every workplace has its stories - the anecdotes of sexual harassment or post-happy-hour forays into drugs - of how someone either became vulnerable and a victim of the madness, or trudged and dodged the uncomfortable, yet inevitable male-female interactions while doing business.

During one of our tea talks about abusive executives and clients, one friend (a male marriage and family therapist) said to me and to another female friend in the industry, "You don't have to tolerate verbal abuse and sexual harassment. It's not right. You have a choice."

Our response?

"You don't get it. It's Hollywood. That's just the way it is."

That's because the other choice is to quit or get fired.

In 2013, I was in a meeting at EOne to negotiate a programming deal on behalf of a client. Three chairs at the conference table were filled by their team members, all of whom were male; and on the other side sat yours truly, my male client and his male interim talent manager. I recall the meeting vividly, as it was March 13 and my ESPN alert notified me that my future-ex-husband aka Danny Amendola was leaving me, I mean, St. Louis. Right after that moment, the then-VP of the department completely halted the business talk and made an excursion into a brief one-way conversation with me, during which my innately sarcastic defensive mode turned on:

VP: Mary Beth, what are you?

MB: I'm a publicist.

VP: I know that, but like, what are you? Chinese? Asian and white?

MB: Filipino. (rolling my eyes with a smirk)

VP: Mmm, mm, mmm. I'd love to have a piece of that.

MB: (smiling) Allen, let's finish this deal and we can talk about it later.

And the meeting promptly resumed.

Then there are the occasional blunt words spit by the ego-driven, on-his-way-up-in-the-industry male, "Join me in my hotel room?"

My usual response: "You have two choices. You can either f*ck me, or you can f*ck with me and make money."

The smart ones choose the latter. (The first time I gave those options to a man was an attempt to blow off Rich Dollaz at Ryan Leslie's BET Awards afterparty in 2009.)

Somewhere in my inbox I'll find an e-mail written by a then-Alchemy film distribution exec. Within, he had written that he had been envisioning that I'd "...take his hand and walk him into the bedroom [and passionately lay with him]."

Via e-mail? Seriously?

We, women - we talk. We discuss our questionable experiences involving males and how we are in fear of jeopardizing our clientele, colleague relationships and career tracks, we contemplate and, unfortunately, we stop right there and do nothing more.

Here are the Top 5 paraphrased statements I've heard from professional and executive women in Hollywood regarding sexual harassment and misconduct:

1. If a man harasses you, strategically use it against him.

2. Get over it. Sexual harassment is part of working in Hollywood.

3. If you report being sexually harassed by a top executive, sure you can try to make some money through a settlement, which is our way of blackmail. But then you'll be blacklisted and won't be able to work in the industry again.

4. Don't give in. Just smile, keep your mouth shut and move on.

5. You've got do what you've got to do.

My male colleagues have even told me, "Mary Beth, flaunt what you've got, bat your eyes, be sweet and strong. Just flirt a little - not too much, but just enough."

Having mentored college students and new grads, predominantly young women, in public relations within the realms of sports and entertainment, I’ve made it clear with my (female) interns:

“If your boss or another male senior executive comes on to you sexually or in a way that just doesn't feel right, you don’t have to sleep with him to get what you want. Use his corporate credit card to feed him because he can’t talk or verbally abuse you when his mouth is full. Never blatantly reject him. Just respectfully respond to him with your glossed-up lips and postpone his flirtation with, 'Very funny, boss. Let's finish this project and then I'll find a solution for you.' And get him an escort in the meantime.”

Was this poor advice on my part? In a way, I am prolonging the use and abuse of women when suggesting escort services. Or am I just being realistic and rational for these young women just trying to make it? As I mentioned, I always tell my female apprentices that they don't have to sleep their way to the top (just get the man f*cked by someone else).

Note: Yes, I mentioned names. Get over it. I have no intention of suing anyone or tainting reputations. Just stating facts. Old ones. I'll buy you a drink when I see you at La Scala.

UPDATE as of Oct. 12, 2017: Below are responses I have received privately regarding this article.

#WME #HarveyWeinstein #EOne #RichDollaz #sexualharrassment #sexualmisconduct #entertainmentindustry #Hollywood #SexandHollywood #SethMacFarlane #film #workplace

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

Dining in great company is one of the greatest gifts of all. We take a lot of things for granted; but to laugh with friends and make memories with loved ones while filling our stomachs with fine foods is a grand privilege.

Trifecta Cooks of San José, Calif., graced Los Angeles with its soulful small dish dinner at the Feastly LA loft. Cooking to background sounds by Pat Manaloto aka DJ Flow-Key in a bring-your-own-beverages setting, chefs Lai Chao, Ryan Gallego and Jason Artajos - Bay Area gentleman who comprise the award-winning Trifecta Cooks - served aesthetically delightful and delectable Japanese cuisine.

Six perfectly spaced servings dominated guests' tastebuds:

1. Kani Salad (snow crab, fermented green tea leaf mayo, tempura flakes, seasonal veggies)

2. Octopus Croquette (sous-vide octopus, béchamel batter, okonomiyaki sauce, spicy mayo, scallions)

3. Nigiri Set (umi masu - ocean trout, hirame - halibut, sawara - king mackerel)

4. Tuna Tataki (aged yellowfin, ponzu, crispy onion, old bay, shiso oil, chili curls)

5. Kakuni Shortrib (kakuni gaze, gobo nest, soft boil quail egg, fermented mustard green, sous-vide bacon)

6. Black Sesame Ice Cream (nutter butter crumble, miso caramel and yuzu-raspberry jam)

Trifecta Cooks has mastered the practice of fusing family soul, edible art and hospitable warmth to create dining intimacy that allows friends - old and new - to connect during an in-town cultural experience.

"From the knife cuts, sourced ingredients and plating, all the dishes we create are prepared with passion and love," expressed Gallego. "Cooking for family, friends and new acquaintances is really special to us. We share with them what we love to do."

The major details: Trifecta Cooks' artistry is mindful of guests and their needs. The chefs discovered on the spot that the founder of non-profit organization Marnina Ahava Foundation, Inc., Mary Beth Sales, had serious allergies to crab.

"The dish I created for Mary Beth Sales was hot oil-seared scallops with a yuzu truffle vinaigrette and mixed greens with a citrus dressing," Gallego described. "We want to impress guests while we accommodate them."

Champions of the Eastridge Taste for Space competition in May 2017, Trifecta Cooks is slated to open its first brick-and-mortar at San José's Eastridge Shopping Center. Follow the collective trio on all platforms @TrifectaCooks.

Photos: Margy

#TrifectaCooks #Feastly #MarninaAhavaFoundation

Mentoring is my favorite - and most crucial - aspect of my work life. Teaching and helping others to grow helps me grow too... professionally, mentally, emotionally and intellectually. I spent the last 24 hours co-leading team-building activities at a teen summer camp. Missing passion in your work life? Go out and volunteer, apply your personal and professional values when doing it, and be of service to someone... BE THE IMPACT!

#Mentorship #Volunteering