More Details Come Out About Fred Savage’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct On The Set Of “The Wonder Years”
Back in May, Fred Savage was fired as director and executive producer of The Wonder Years reboot due to allegations of “inappropriate conduct.” At the time, there were very few details, but Deadline speculated it had to do with “verbal outbursts and inappropriate behavior.” A few days later, “sources close” to 46-year-old Fred told Page Six that he was doing “a lot of self-reflection.” While “he knows he can be an asshole at times,” the Fred-source insisted he still had “overwhelming support” from friends and colleagues at The Wonder Years.
That Page Six piece didn’t go over so well with the group of six women from the crew who reported Fred’s behavior to Disney. They decided to contact The Hollywood Reporter because they felt “that people need to know what the wrongdoing was.” A few months later, and The Hollywood Reporter’s exposé has been published. Turns out Fred Savage is (allegedly) a controlling, sexually inappropriate douchebag with an anger problem.
A reminder that this isn’t the first time Fred’s been accused of bad behavior. In 1993, a costumer for the original The Wonder Years sued him for sexual harassment. The case was settled. Over two decades later, a female crewmember on his show The Grinder said he “constantly hurled profanities” at women and struck her during a costume fitting. Again, the case was settled. In both cases, Fred denied any wrongdoing.
For the women who worked on The Wonder Years reboot, Fred had two very different sides to this personality. A charismatic, supportive colleague and “a far darker, angrier alter ego”:
They say he could flip to the latter persona in an instant, and in such moments, one says, “His eyes would go dead.” One says Savage never engaged in such behavior in front of actors or executives. “They all see his absolute perfect, best face,” she says, but he sometimes showed a different side to “below-the-line employees who don’t have power.”
One Wonder Years crewmember, who wasn’t part of the group that complained to Disney, said she had a positive impression of Fred:
He was not only an exceptionally competent director but “very charming” and “very friendly.” She continues: “Fred is very social. He would invite crew to a bar or to a little house he was renting.” She remembers those gatherings as “so much fun.”
But then, suddenly, he was gone. “It was so mysterious,” she says. In the media, the narrative focused on Savage’s alleged anger issues. But this crewmember acknowledges she had been uneasy about the “strangeness” of Savage’s relationship with one much younger woman working on the crew. (Savage is 46 years old and married with three children.)
And this is where it gets super creepy. This source wasn’t the only one who had suspicions about Fred’s relationship with this young woman. Other colleagues say that the girl actually moved into the house Fred was staying at while The Wonder Years was filming in Atlanta. Another source says she revealed that Fred “was buying her gifts and talking about what they would do together in the future.” FYI: Fred has been married to Jennifer Lynne Stone since 2004. They have three children together, ages 16, 14, and 9.
The young woman in question has declined to speak to THR. But sources say she shared that she was sometimes fearful of him when he was angry. He was “extremely controlling of her daily behaviors,” says one associate who observed their interactions. “He was manipulative and erratic.” Another crewmember says she tried to shield the younger woman from Savage, at which point “he proceeded to verbally harass me and belittle me.” This woman says she found Savage “scary” because “when he pulled me aside multiple times when he was verbally harassing me, his eyes would go dead,” but then “he flips a switch and he’s Fred Savage.”
Apparently, “it was primarily concern about the hold that Savage seemed to have on this far younger person” that prompted the six women to report him to Disney HR. They noticed she had been “transformed” by her relationship with Fred; she was “no longer the bubbly person that she had been.” But she wasn’t the only female crewmember that Fred had this kind of connection with:
One of the women who reported Savage says she saw his “very blatant favoritism” toward another crewmember, a woman in her early 30s, and found it unsettling. “I’ve been in the industry a long time. I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and I’ve seen a lot,” she says.
The woman in question, who has worked in the industry for about a decade, tells THR that Savage befriended her over the course of months on the show. “We became acquaintances and friends,” she says. “It was very platonic.” He took her to dinner and offered expensive gifts that she declined. He met and charmed her parents. Knowing that she was an aspiring writer and comedian, she says, he made efforts to help with her career. He came to her shows. He paid her to co-write a public service announcement. She says she considered him to be like a brother or a cousin.
At one point, she went through a bad breakup. “He was aware of it. I was very vulnerable,” she says. “You’re on set 16 hours a day. I told him everything.” Then, she was abruptly fired, though she does not believe that was at Savage’s direction. “I was given no prior warning or cause,” she says. “I texted Fred. He was ecstatic. He was, ‘This is the beginning of your career. You’re going to move to L.A.’”
So, the second woman was no longer working on the show. But, one night in early December 2021, she was invited to join The Wonder Years group at 97 Estoria, a bar near Fred’s house:
“He was buying shots for everyone,” she says. At one point, she went to the restroom. As she was walking out of the stall, Savage entered. “I started laughing, like, ‘What are you doing? This is a women’s bathroom,’” she says. She says he approached her with “just like, dead eyes” and pushed her against a wall. “I said, ‘Please, don’t do this.’ I meant ruining the friendship. I was pleading, not from fear so much, but this was no going back.”
At that point, she says, “He put his mouth on mine very forcefully. He went for the top of my pants. I brushed him away. Then he put his mouth on mine again, grabbed my hand and pulled it on his groin area. I was pulling back. He stopped very angrily. I shoulder-checked him so I could get out.”
She says they both returned to the group and Fred “quickly left” with the other young female crewmember. Later that night, he texted her asking her to come to his house right away:
“To remain neutral I laughed it off like, ’Ha ha, no, have a good night,’ because I was honestly scared of him for the first time,” she says.
He continued to text and call for a couple of weeks, she says, asking to meet. “One time he just sent the word, ‘Tonight,’” she says. Then there was silence for a few weeks, and then a voicemail that she shared with THR. “It’s your old friend Fred,” he said. “We worked together for a while, and then we didn’t, and then I was a huge asshole. A huge asshole. And I’m really sorry. And I’ve kind of owed you an apology for a minute here and so, uh, the truth is I really like you and I really want to be friends, and I’m so sorry that I fucked that up.” She says she did not respond.
The anonymous whistleblowers tell The Hollywood Reporter that they reported Fred’s actions out of concern for the young crewmember. But they were also pissed that “someone who has presented himself as an ally for women” and their careers would pull this crap:
“These men in charge know what the public is looking for and they know what words to use,” says one. “We all felt supported by Fred. We truly thought he supported women. He told us he supported women. But this kind of support isn’t real.”
Fred Savage responded to The Hollywood Reporter allegations with this word-salad-denial:
“Since I was 6 years old, I have worked on hundreds of sets with thousands of people, and have always strived to contribute to an inclusive, safe and supportive work environment. It is devastating to learn that there are co-workers who feel I have fallen short of these goals. While there are some incidents being reported that absolutely did not and could not have happened, any one person who feels hurt or offended by my actions is one person too many. I will work to address and change any behavior that has negatively affected anyone, as nothing in this world is more important to me than being a supportive co-worker, friend, husband, father and person.”
So Fred’s trying to sell himself as an upstanding family man, when, in reality, it sounds like he’s closer to that abusive, controlling (and, er, murderous) boyfriend from No One Would Tell (1997):
And to think, D.J. Tanner had his number this entire time.
Pic: JENNIFER GRAYLOCK/INSTARimages.com