MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, a Harvey Weinstein 'Friend,' Still Silent on Sexual Abuse

Democratic senator turned movie industry lobbyist has history with sexually aggressive behavior

MPAA chief and former Sen. Chris Dodd / Getty Images
November 7, 2017

The Motion Picture Association of America and its chief, former Democratic senator Chris Dodd, have yet to comment on the slew of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein, a longtime friend and political donor of Dodd's.

Dodd, who took the reins of MPAA in 2011 after a 30-year stint in the U.S. Senate, has made no public comment on the rape and sexual assault allegations against Weinstein that have piled up after numerous women told their stories to the New York Times and The New Yorker a month ago. The MPAA, which works with major film studios including The Weinstein Company, has not put out a press release on sexual assault by Weinstein or others in the entertainment industry.

Dodd had an existing relationship with Weinstein before he joined MPAA. Weinstein gave more money to Dodd during his political career than he gave to any of the other Democrats he supported. Dodd admitted in 2012 that their friendship affected the way the MPAA worked with Weinstein.

"I've known Harvey for 25, 30 years, and we've been friends," Dodd said when explaining why MPAA hosted a screening for a Weinstein film. "He was very helpful to me as a candidate for Congress and as a senator over the years."

Dodd also figures into stories involving aggressive sexual behavior on the part of now-deceased Democratic senator Ted Kennedy.

Tucked into an extensive GQ profile of Kennedy are many anecdotes involving Dodd, including one where a waitress named Carla Gaviglio ended up "bruised, shaken, and angry," and claiming she was sexually assaulted at a Washington, D.C., restaurant.

Gaviglio, according to the story, was thrown by Kennedy onto a table and then onto Dodd while the two senators were drinking in a private dining room.

"As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles," wrote the late journalist Michael Kelly in 1990. "Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd's lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair."

"Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room," Kelly wrote. "Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check."

Kelly characterizes Kennedy and Dodd as "two guys in a fraternity who have been loosed upon the world" and notes "they'd always get their girls very, very drunk."

The incident, labeled a "waitress sandwich," was also mentioned in New York magazine.

Dodd's office did not return Kelly's requests for comment.

The Democrat tandem's behavior was corroborated by late Hollywood actress Carrie Fisher, who said Kennedy once asked her during a dinner with the senators whether she would have sex with Dodd.

"Suddenly, Senator Kennedy, seated directly across from me, looked at me with his alert, aristocratic eyes and asked me a most surprising question," Fisher wrote of her dinner. "So,' he said, clearly amused, 'do you think you'll be having sex with Chris at the end of your date?' ...To my left, Chris Dodd looked at me with an unusual grin hanging on his very flushed face."

Fisher says she told Kennedy she would not be having sex with Dodd. His response was to ask another question: "Would you have sex with Chris in a hot tub?"

She declined the second time she was asked as well, she says. Representatives for Dodd didn't respond when ABC asked for comment on that incident.

MPAA did not respond to inquiries into the reason for its silence and into the alleged incidents involving Dodd. MPAA's leadership is made up of only men.

The organization announced earlier this year that this would be Dodd's last year as its CEO.

Other Hollywood institutions such as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences acted swiftly to cut ties with Weinstein. The disgraced movie mogul was even cut loose from his own company.

Many Democratic senators who received money from Weinstein decided to donate the contributions to charity. The Clinton Foundation rejected calls for it to donate any of the $250,000 it received, saying the money has already been spent.