Two days after the launch of a campaign that saw Oscar-winning figure Morgan Freeman voicing various announcements on SkyTrains and select TransLink bus routes, the regional transit authority has declared that it will “pause” the system-wide broadcasts due to allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor.
“In light of information we’ve learned through news stories on May 24, 2018, of serious allegations against actor Morgan Freeman, TransLink has decided to pause his voice announcements as part of a Visa ad campaign on the transit system,” said TransLink. “We will be reaching out to Visa to discuss further.”
The news follows a report published by CNN today (May 24), where eight women said they were subjected to inappropriate behaviour and harassment by Freeman. The alleged incidences detailed include “unwanted touching and comments” and “behaving in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work”.
Eight additional sources stated that they were witnesses to such misconduct, describing it as “a pattern of inappropriate behaviour by Freeman on set”. None of the accusations have been proven in court.
In a statement released through his publicist today (May 24), Freeman apologized to “anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected”. “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” he said. “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected—that was never my intent.”
Visa, for which the actor-producer has been spokesperson for many years, has also proclaimed it will be pulling its marketing materials that feature Freeman's baritone. “We are aware of the allegations that have been made against Mr. Freeman,” the company said in a statement. “At this point, Visa will be suspending our marketing in which the actor is featured.”
The Morgan Freeman–voiced transit announcements were produced by Visa as part of TransLink’s tap-to-pay rollout. The campaign featured Freeman’s distinctive speech in a number of recordings that were scheduled to be broadcast over the regional SkyTrain system and select bus routes beginning June 4, though some have been aired this week.
In the meantime, some Vancouverites have taken to Twitter to suggest that Canadian stars such as Seth Rogen, Nardwuar the Human Serviette, and Ryan Reynolds should replace Freeman as the temporary (or permanent?) voice of TransLink.More