By MARK SARDELLA

The wave of sexual misconduct allegations that has been toppling prominent men in politics and the entertainment industry has reached Wakefield.

The Board of Directors of the Gloucester Stage Company and its founder, world renowned playwright and Wakefield native Israel Horovitz, have permanently severed ties amid new allegations of sexual assault made against Horovitz.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, GSC board president Liz Neumeier issued the following statement:
“Earlier this month, the Board of the Gloucester Stage Company received information about an allegation of sexual assault by Israel Horovitz. We cancelled plans to produce a Horovitz play in 2018 and agreed that under no circumstances would he continue to serve on the Board, ex officio, as artistic director emeritus. Mr. Horovitz denied the allegation and requested a meeting, but then resigned.

“We deeply regret that past complaints were mishandled. On behalf of the Board I apologize to the brave women who came forward in 1992 and 1993 but were not heard. We are individually and collectively appalled by the allegations, both old and new. Such behavior cannot be tolerated and our thoughts are with the women who were victimized. We are committed to making sure that GSC is a place where people are safe, free to do their best work, and to speak out without fear of reprisal.”

To those who have followed Horovitz’s career closely, the latest allegations against the 1956 Wakefield High School graduate do not come as a major surprise. As referenced in Neumeier’s statement, a number of women came forward in the early 1990s with claims of sexual assault and misconduct by Horovitz. The then anonymous allegations were covered in detail by the Boston Phoenix. Horovitz vehemently denied those allegations at the time and continued on as Artistic Director at GSC with the support of the then board of directors.

Horovitz, 78, retired as GSC Artistic Director several years ago but had retained the title of “Artistic Director Emeritus.” He continued to be a prolific playwright, often premiering his newest plays at GSC before moving them to New York City, where he resides much of the year, when he’s not directing plays in Paris or London. His latest play, Out of the Mouths of Babes, was produced by GSC earlier this year.

In 2014, Horovitz made his successful debut as a feature film director. My Old Lady, a movie based on his play and starring Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline, was a critical and commercial success.

In her statement, Neumeier further hinted at the scope of the latest allegations against Horovitz.

“The New York Times will shortly publish an article about Israel,” Neumeier wrote, “and have nine women on the record making accusations about his sexual harassment and assaults. [GSC] Managing Director Jeff Zinn and I have responded to the reporter’s questions, but I want you to hear about these recent events directly from me.”

The Times story detailing the accusations against Horovitz was published on Thursday, Nov. 30.

“Inspired by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and others, a total of nine women have come forward publicly for the first time to describe a pattern of sexual abuse and violations of trust by a man they considered a mentor and friend,” the Times said.

“Jocelyn Meinhardt was 19 when she began a summer fellowship in 1989 with Mr. Horovitz at the Gloucester Stage Company in Massachusetts, where he was artistic director,” The Times reported. “She knew Mr. Horovitz; one of his sons, Adam Horovitz, who would go on to fame with the Beastie Boys, had been her high school boyfriend. That first night, she said, Mr. Horovitz drove her in his convertible — its license plate read AUTHOR — to the family home. He locked the door, then kissed and fondled her. She began to cry. Mr. Horovitz then led her to his bedroom, where she said he raped her.”

Other accusers include an au pair, who was 16 in 1991 when Horovitz allegedly groped her breasts and put her hand on his penis. Another actress said she was 16 when he pushed her against a wall and forcefully kissed her.

Aspiring playwright Maia Ermansons told the Times that when she went to meet with Horovitz last year, he kissed her and groped her breasts. She was 21 and had known Horovitz since she was a child.

“I felt close to him like a grandfather, but also he was a somewhat famous guy whose time I felt privileged to have,” Ermansons told the Times. “For the man who represented all that, to treat me the way he did, was the ultimate betrayal.”

In the wake of the latest accusations, support for Horovitz appears to be evaporating, not only among his former professional theater colleagues, but among his own family.

“His son Adam Horovitz, also known as Ad-Rock of Beastie Boys fame, has come forward to support the accusers, saying, ‘I believe the allegations against my father are true, and I stand behind the women that made them,’” the Times reported.

Horovitz issued an apology but said that he has “a different memory of some of these events,” the Times story said.

“I apologize with all my heart to any woman who has ever felt compromised by my actions, and to my family and friends who have put their trust in me,” Horovitz told the New York Times. “To hear that I have caused pain is profoundly upsetting, as is the idea that I might have crossed a line with anyone who considered me a mentor.”

Horovitz was born in Wakefield in 1939 and grew up on Elm Street. He attended the Warren School on Converse Street (now the McCarthy Senior Center) before graduating from Wakefield High School in 1956.

He has written over 70 plays, which have been produced world-wide, including several set in his hometown of Wakefield. Ironically, one of those plays, The Widow’s Blind Date, features a female character who returns home to Wakefield to avenge a brutal rape that occurred years earlier.

As a young New York playwright, Horovitz is credited with helping to jumpstart the careers of actors like Al Pacino, Jill Clayburgh and John Cazale, all of whom appeared in Horovitz’s plays before going on to Hollywood fame.

One of Horovitz’s accusers, actress Elizabeth Dann, told the Times that the two were rehearsing alone one night, at Horovitz’s request, when he suddenly lunged forward, backing her into a wall and forcing his tongue into her mouth.

“I heard a word used recently about people like this — they’re dream crushers,” Dann told the Times. “He took this thing that was such a beautiful thing, this young hope, this sense of promise, and he just ruined it.”

[This story originally appeared in the December 1, 2017 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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Short and sweet

01Dec17

Dunkin’ Donuts announced recently that it is considering shortening the name on all of its stores to simply, “Dunkin’.” A few select stores around the country are now testing the truncated name, including one in Boston.

This move could have serious implications for a town like Wakefield, which has a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner (and thankfully not one Starbucks).
Continue reading ‘Short and sweet’


By MARK SARDELLA

Supporting the arts and local artists would be a good enough reason to attend Quannapowitt Players’ “Suburban Holidays Six,” especially since at least three Wakefield residents are involved with the current show as actors, directors, producers and playwrights.

But you don’t need an altruistic reason to go see this year’s festival of short holiday plays. Be selfish. Go for the fun and entertainment of watching these seven clever and original short plays written and performed for the sheer love of doing it. And since it is a fundraiser, you have all the justification you need to take a break from the holiday madness for a night of live theater.

The show gets off to a strong start with “Stranger Than True (or Kind of True) Crime Stories from the Files of Bob the Cop – Case #2: Who Sleighed Santa?” Written by Cary Pepper and directed by Wakefield’s own Patrick Cleary, this cleverly-written comedy features Wakefield resident Brian Sensale in the lead role as Bob the Cop.

Bob is a hard-boiled dick in the best tradition of Leslie Nielsen’s “Naked Gun” cop Frank Drebin. And if, like me, you’re a sucker for good puns, this play will quickly draw you in. In this episode, Bob the Cop is called in to investigate the mysterious death of Santa Claus.
Continue reading ‘QP scores with ‘Suburban Holidays Six’’


One thing that there’s no shortage of on social media is outrage. Democrats are outraged about Trump. Republicans are outraged about Hillary (and Trump).

And apparently everybody’s outraged about underground power lines.

Whether on social media or real life, sometimes it seems that there isn’t enough outrage where it’s truly warranted. That’s why it was encouraging recently to see some genuine outrage from the Board of Selectmen when they got the results of the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey for Wakefield.

Wakefield’s Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator Catherine Dhingra was at the selectmen’s meeting to go over the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey results.

There were a number of alarming statistics that came out of the 2017 YRBS, not the least of which is that regular marijuana use spiked 10 percent among Wakefield High School students in the past year. And 25 percent of WHS students admit to driving while stoned. Continue reading ‘Where’s the outrage?’


By about 11 p.m. Monday night, we should have a pretty good idea what Wakefield’s future will look like.

Will the town retain a semblance of the working-class normalcy that has been its hallmark for generations? Or will it veer off in the direction of more genteel communities fond of banning everyday useful items like plastic bags, Styrofoam coffee cups and plastic water bottles?

Will Wakefield remain the proud home of the Warriors? Or will it become a place where the word “selectman” is offensive and sports logos and team names are changed because a few suburban soccer moms think somebody might be offended?
Continue reading ‘Resist the bag-banning revisionists’


It’s almost time for that biannual funfest known as Town Meeting, so start dusting off your excuses now.

“Nobody told me about it.”

“I have to work that day.”

“I have kids.”

Wow, with extenuating circumstances like those, it’s a wonder anyone ever shows up.

All kidding aside, nobody gives a rodent’s hindquarters whether you show up or not, least of all me. The only reason the excuses come up at all is because somebody complains about something that resulted from a Town Meeting action.

Then someone else (like me) asks the obvious question: Which way did you vote when this came up at Town Meeting?

You know the responses (see above).
Continue reading ‘Town Meeting alibis’


As every kid in America used to know, it was on Oct. 12, 1492 that Columbus discovered America. Most kids also learned the little poem that began, “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” I learned it in kindergarten at Miss Hope’s progressive Studio School on Montrose Avenue.

Do schools still teach that poem to kids? That’s a rhetorical question. As my education continued at the Greenwood School, I learned more details about Columbus’s heroic voyages. Continue reading ‘Happy traditional Columbus Day!’




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