Amy Berg’s “An Open Secret” may not come out and say “X Men” director Bryan Singer molested under age boys, but it’s certainly the impression that’s left with the viewer. The explosive documentary screened tonight at NYC DOCS to an emotional crowd with divided reactions. While the movie depicts carefully many examples of abuse– sexual, power, and otherwise– visited upon children by craven adults in the film business, it’s also going to be a field day for some lawyers.
It seems that Berg was working with Michael Egan for two years, she says, before as she puts it “he found a lawyer who thought he had a case” against Bryan Singer and three other defendants. The lawyer was Jeff Herman, who put on quite a show for the press. But by the end of this summer, the cases were dropped, settlements were paid. Berg was undoubtedly left high and dry by Egan, upon whose story she depended for the film. She went ahead it with it anyway. So Egan gets to press his story and accusations in “Open Secret” just Singer, Garth Ancier, Gary Goddard, and David Neuman thought they were in the clear.
Berg doesn’t like or trust me very much because I criticized her behavior in the West Memphis Three situation. But obviously she’s a good filmmaker, and her heart is in the right place. She sets up a narrative here in a couple of story lines that pay off like crazy. One is about a SAG committee chief named Mike Harrah who manages child actors. He seems like a good guy but by the end of the movie he’s resigned his post after being revealed as a molester himself. It’s tragic.
She also tells the heartbreaking story of Mark Ryan, who was Egan’s friend. In their original lawsuit of years ago, in a deposition, Mark Ryan details his molestation at the hands of nefarious pedophile Marc Collins- Rector. But then he drinks and drugs himself into a brain damaged state and lands in a nursing home. Egan says he holds himself responsible for introducing Ryan to these people, as well as Singer, et al.
Ryan’s parents are devastated, as are all the parents. But none of them explain how their sons could be lured into these messes. I am not saying it’s their fault. They were preyed upon. But Berg avoids examining what was going on at home that created so many gullible, naive and needy kids, and why they fell for the manipulation of evil people.
Also told in detail is the terrible of story of Marty Weiss, who managed kids and young teens, and was convicted also of molestation. His lack of contrition or conscience is mesmerizing. He’s finally brought down by a brave kid named Evan, who secretly tapes his confession.
I assume “Open Secret” has been vetted by lawyers, but I doubt it will ever be released in this form. In addition to Mike Harrah, a Hollywood actor named Brian Peck continues to work despite his conviction as a sex offender. He’s also a BFF of who else but Charlie Sheen.
Another actor who won’t be too happy seeing himself in this film is Ben Savage, star of “Boy Meets World” and the new “Girl Meets World.” He’s seen visiting Collins- Rector’s infamous mansion probably a decade ago for what’s implied as a sex party. It breaks my heart to report this, but this is what happens when a movie is shown to a big, general audience. This was not a private screening.
Also thrown under the bus: Arianna Huffington’s gay ex husband Michael Huffington, who was briefly in Congress– according to this film, sexual and legislative.
As for Berg, I did ask her what she thought Singer and Singer (pitbull lawyer Marty, no relation, who reps Bryan) would make of this movie. She said, “I’m not saying Bryan Singer is a child molester. But he certainly was surrounded by them and hung out with them.”