A CNN entertainment reporter is among eight women who have come forward to publicly accuse Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman of sexually inappropriate behavior. The allegations against Freeman were first published by CNN in a bombshell report on May 24. The alleged behavior stems from on set incidents and incidents during media-related appearances. A production assistant on Freeman’s movie, Going in Style, alleges Freeman attempted to lift up her skirt to see if she had underwear on. That assistant said Freeman’s co-star, Alan Arkin, told Freeman to stop. On set at another movie, Now You See Me, a female staffer said Freeman made comments about her body and another woman who was employed on the movie covered up her body when around Freeman.
It was during a media event for Going in Style that CNN reporter Chloe Melas, 31, said she was a victim of Freeman’s inappropriate behavior. Melas, 31, says she was six months pregnant when she was interviewing Freeman when he told her she looked “ripe” and he wished “he was there.” Melas says Freeman’s co-stars, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, were present during the incident. Melas said there is a recording of Freeman saying, “Boy, do I wish I was there,” but not his other comments. Melas also alleges Freeman shook her hand and refused to let go. Melas is one of the authors of the CNN investigative report. The reporters spoke to 16 people in total, eight people who said they were the target of inappropriate behavior by Freeman or were harassed by him and eight witnesses. The article also examines comments Freeman made about the co-founder of his production company, Lori McCreary, and her comments about female employees having families.
In response to allegations, Freeman said in a statement, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who fell uncomfortable or disrespected – that was never my intent.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Melas Said in 2018 that She Was ‘Proud’ to Be an Entertainment Journalist in the Wake of the #MeToo Movement
In a March 2018 interview, Chloe Melas spoke of her pride in being an entertainment reporter in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Melas said, “I feel as though my job description has done a 180-degree turn in this current #Metoo climate. Telling the stories of men and women who have been abused, and seeing the changes in the industry happen as a result, is immensely gratifying. I have never been more proud to be an entertainment journalist.”
It was Melas who broke one of the biggest media stories in the early days of the #MeToo movement. Melas was the first report on the allegations surrounding Kevin Spacey, allegations that eventually saw him fired from the Netflix series House of Cards. Melas spoke about her reporting in an interview with Inside Edition, “It seems that almost all the crew members were aware that Kevin Spacey would seek out these young men and put people in very uncomfortable situations. That he would find reasons to allegedly massage them, give them shoulder rubs, touch their lower backs and there were instances of him putting his hands up people’s shorts.”
2. Melas Helped to Launch Hollywood Life in 2009
Melas is a graduate of Auburn University, where she studied Radio/TV/Film and Political Science. She wrote in a May 2014 blog post, “I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, meaning I was raised on sweet tea, fried chicken, and many Christmases spent watching Gone With The Wind.”
Melas graduated in 2008 and went to work as a news assistant at CNN. She says in her May 2014 blog post, “The day I graduated from Auburn University, I moved to New York to start my dream job, working in the breaking news division at CNN. I immediately immersed myself into this city that I now call home.” In 2009, Melas helped to found HollywoodLife.com alongside Bonnie Fuller.
According to Ad Week, Melas joined CNN in March 2016, leaving her position as the senior entertainment reporter at Hollywood Life.
3. Melas Met Her Husband Brian Mazza on a Blind Date in 2012
Melas met her restauranteur husband Brian Mazza on a blind date in New York City in October 2012. A Brides.com blog says that they moved in together after four months and Mazza proposed after eight months of dating. The couple married in Grace Church in New York on October 24, 2014, two years to the day they met. Melas described their wedding reception as “like every fairytale you’ve ever read had come to life in the room.” The couple honeymooned in the Turks & Caicos Islands and on an African safari.
In July 2017, Melas gave birth to their first child, son Leo DeSales Mazza. Melas said in an interview with Big City Moms about being a new mother, “I’m most surprised that I love it so much I want to do it again— and much sooner than I’d anticipated.” Melas added, “I still can’t believe that I was capable of not only creating and carrying a human being, but there’s something so magical and almost surreal about having given birth. I’m proud of the strength I exhibited that day – I felt like a superhero.”
4. In Addition to Her Reporting, Melas Is Also a Fashion Brand Ambassador
Since March 2015, Melas has been a brand ambassador to New York-based women’s fashion label, Maggy London.
Melas has also been a contributor on Fox News, HLN and WPIX-TV in New York. Between June 2013 and June 2015, Melas was the host of VH1’s The Gossip Table. When Melas was announced as the ambassador, she said, “I’m always needing a different outfit every single day. I don’t have anyone helping me with styling, so Maggy London gave me a dress to wear last season, and they got great feedback on Instagram and thought I looked great in the dress. The brand skews a little older, so they were like ‘Who is this young girl wearing our dress? We want to meet her!’ Even though I’m not a celebrity, they wanted me to become their International Brand Ambassador. I’ll be wearing Maggy London on Gossip Table every single morning, featuring them on Hollywood Life, and of course wearing them in everyday life! They want me to bring awareness to this great brand that it’s not just for your mom anymore!”
According to the Brides.com blog, Mazza is also the founder of a men’s custom clothing store, Windsor Custom. He has also appeared on the reality show High Society and was a partner in the New York restaurant, the Ainsworth. Mazza was quoted as saying about fashion, “How you walk into a room sets the tone. I want everyone to dress well, so right away they get that tone at the restaurant.” He added that one of his fashion no-nos is flip flops because they are “skeevy,” Mazza says, “Even when I go to the beach I have Converse on.”
5. Melas Was Onstage With Wendy Willams When Williams Fat Shamed Kelly Clarkson
Melas is a regular contributor to The Wendy Williams Show. Melas was present on Wendy Williams’ show in April 2018 when Williams was accused of fat shaming singer, Kelly Clarkson, according to Page Six. Melas there to update Williams on the story of Nxivm, the alleged sex cult in upstate New York which counts actress Allison Mack as a member and recruiter. When mentioning that women in the cult were only permitted to ingest 800 calories per day, Williams said, “Kelly Clarkson ain’t going nowhere for an 800-calorie-a-day died, okay? Seriously?” The Page Six report noted that Melas “looked visibly uncomfortable as the audience laughed and cheered.”