Following a week's worth of stories about the behavior of Donald J. Trump on the set of "The Apprentice," it's clear that he'll never be able to return to the reality television show that helped to make him a household name. But the show itself lives on, with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosting a new edition of "Celebrity Apprentice" that is set to premiere January 2nd on NBC.
But if the network was hoping to put allegations of sexual abuse by the host of "The Apprentice" behind it, choosing Arnold Schwarzenegger to host the series might prove to be an ill-advised choice. Because it appears that the well-known actor and ex-Governor of California has some sexual allegations of his own to explain.
The best known of the stories came to light in October, 2003, in the final week of Schwarzenegger's campaign for governor of California. The Los Angeles Times published a story recounting the stories of six women who had come forward and claimed the actor had touched them inappropriately:
In interviews with The Times, three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks.
A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.
According to the women's accounts, one of the incidents occurred in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and one in 2000.
There was an initial flurry of attention when the stories were published, including some complaints by Schwarzenegger's supporters that it was all some conspiracy to derail his campaign. But in the end, the actor won the election and there wasn't any lasting impact on his public image.
Schwarzenegger did later admit that he sometimes behaved inappropriately at campaign events. And in an interview with Peter Jennings on the ABC Evening News, he said he couldn’t "remember what was happening 20 years ago and 15 years ago." But he added, "Some of the things sound like me. And this is why I was the first one to come out and say that some of the things could have happened. And I want to apologize to the people if I offended anyone because that was not my intention."
Like Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been dogged by stories recounting his comments about women that he had made during his years in the public eye:
Schwarzenegger's attitudes about women have been an issue on the campaign trail, where critics have accused him of being misogynistic, based on past statements he has made to various publications. In response, Schwarzenegger has said he respects women and that many of his comments were made in jest or simply meant to be provocative.
So what are these "provocative" comments? Since the earliest day of his public career, Schwarzenegger has seemed willing to talk about sexual encounters and experiences smarter men might have declined to discuss. In a 1977 interview with soft-porn magazine "Oui," a pre-movie star Schwarzenegger talked about his early years a body builder in Los Angeles:
"Bodybuilders party a lot, and once, in Gold's--the gym in Venice, California, where all the top guys train--there was a black girl who came out naked. Everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs, where we all got together." Asked by the interviewer if he was talking about a "gang bang," Schwarzenegger answered, "Yes, but not everybody, just the guys who can fuck in front of other guys. Not everybody can do that. Some think that they don't have a big-enough cock, so they can't get a hard-on. Having chicks around is the kind of thing that breaks up the intense training. It gives you relief, and then afterward you go back to the serious stuff."
But even when he was a star, Schwarzenegger's sometimes unsavory sexual experiences were legion. An infamous 2000 profile in Premiere Magazine entitled "Arnold The Barbarian" included a flurry of stories recounting the actor's alleged bad behavior:
A former Schwarzenegger employee recalls another incident from the T2 days. At the time, director James Cameron was married but having an affair with one of the film's stars, Linda Hamilton. One evening, while riding in a limo with Cameron, Hamilton, and others, Schwarzenegger suddenly lifted Hamilton onto his lap and began fondling her breasts through the very thin top she was wearing. The witness says, 'I couldn't believe Cameron didn't have the balls to tell Arnold to get off his girl. The whole thing made me sick.'
A female producer on one of Schwarzenegger's films tells of a time when her ex-husband came to visit the set. When she introduced the man to Schwarzenegger, the star quipped, 'Is this guy the reason why you didn't come up to my hotel room last night and suck my cock?'
A woman who went to the set of 1996's Eraser recalls the friend she was visiting there being asked to retrieve Schwarzenegger from his trailer for a shot that was ready to roll earlier than expected. 'He asked me if I wanted to meet Arnold, and I said sure. When we opened the door to his trailer, Arnold was giving oral sex to a woman. He looked up and, with that accent, said very slowly, 'Eating is not cheating.' I met him again about a year later and asked him, in German, whether or not eating was cheating, and he just laughed.'
The piece also included an antidote from British journalist Anne Richardson, who said that after she interviewed Schwarzenegger, he "tweaked her nipple" in an attempt to determine whether her breasts were real during an interview for the movie "The 6th Day." That event eventually spawned a lawsuit from Richardson, following a follow-up article in the L.A. Times in which two of his aides implied Richardson had encouraged the actor to grab her. That lawsuit was resolved with a confidential settlement in 2006.
All of these stories don't even touch on Schwarzenegger's very public adultery problems, some of which had strange turns of their own. For instance, the L.A. Times in 2005 ran a front page story reporting that American Media, the tabloid publisher of the National Enquirer, Globe and Star and an organization with ties to Schwarzenegger, paid actress Gigi Goyette $20,000 not to discuss an alleged affair with him days after he announced his 2003 candidacy. And there's no need to rehash the 2011 stories about the actor having fathered a child with his housekeeper nearly a decade earlier.
In another time, on a show that wasn't recently hosted by a man accused of multiple cases of inappropriate sexual behavior, all of these stories might be shrugged off as former bad behavior and wouldn't be considered a serious enough problem to shelve an already-completed season of television that is likely to get decent ratings.
But these aren't normal times, and given all of the problems already facing NBC, can if afford another drawn-out series of sex-related stories about someone on their network? Or does it just make more sense for the network and studio to acknowledge the timing is bad and sell off rights to the episodes to a cable outlet like Reelz or some streaming service who has less of a public relations problem?