Rose McGowan talks in slogans. "I scare because I care," she says, using a line from the movie Monsters, Inc. "I don't respect those who don't respect," she says, too.
It's understandable. McGowan, famous from the series Charmed and the first Scream movie, is now an activist.
The New York Times reported last October that McGowan was one of at least eight women with whom Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had reached financial settlements regarding his alleged inappropriate sexual conduct. McGowan has also alleged he raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 and, further, that Amazon Studios killed a project she was working on after she warned a studio boss about Weinstein and urged them not to do business with him.
McGowan came to talk to assembled members of the Television Critics Association (TCA) because she will star in Citizen Rose, an E! channel docu-series that chronicles the beginning of the outing of Weinstein and the lead-up to the publication of her memoir, Brave, to be published later this month. Citizen Rose starts with a two-hour special on Jan. 30 and returns with four more episodes this spring.
In case anyone is wondering why McGowan would agree to have her life documented Kardashian-style (the producers of the E! show also did Keeping Up with the Kardashians), McGowan has the answer. She wants her struggles known and, she says: "I have to sell my house right now to pay legal bills to fight the monster."
The name Weinstein can't be mentioned in conversation with McGowan. He has to be called "the monster." Before she appeared on stage here, we were given a video message from her. "Hey, Rose McGowan here. Thank you for participating in the TCAs. I am proud to present the teaser for Citizen Rose and remind you there is a person behind the name. So please be respectful and understand this is a very hard and traumatic thing. And I appreciate no mentions of the name that we all know, or anything rude or combative, please. I will happily answer your questions if they are respectful. Peace."
We were respectful, even as McGowan scolded us. The room was packed, hushed and listening intently. "Do you understand what I have been through for 20 years? My being here is a miracle," she said. "It's not an accident that I'm sitting here and I earned it. For 20 years, I have clawed, I have scraped. And I've been doing it strategically, so I could be here."
She heaped casual scorn on journalists who, she said, "painted me as crazy." She said: "That is what a lot of people in your job, your peers, have done to me for years, and they were paid to do it."
Nobody was going to point out that there's a huge gulf between critics for major newspapers and websites and tabloid papers or gossip sites. McGowan is entitled to lash out.
And lashing out is what she's been doing for months. Choleric on social media, she acknowledges she is part of the #MeToo movement, but separate from it. She said she has been "disappointed" by some media coverage of the movement and is skeptical of the #TimesUp cause. She has accused Meryl Streep of being hypocritical and she resented having her name added to the #TimesUp manifesto.
Here, she wanted us to know that reports of possible "backlash" against women who are part of the #MeToo movement makes her furious. "Don't create something that's not there," she said.
Asked gently about losing her privacy and the possible negative impact on her state of mind that might arise from appearing on what is, essentially, a reality show, McGowan was dismissive. "This is my form of volunteer work," she declared.
She also said the E! series is, in a way, not about her trauma or history. "Citizen Rose is not just a show about women. It's about humanity and freeing your mind and looking at things differently. I want to be like Gertrude Stein and have a conversation with the world."
There was one tricky moment: McGowan was asked if she is entirely comfortable working with E! because, during the Golden Globes red carpet coverage, Will & Grace star Debra Messing pressed an E! reporter on allegations of lack of equality in pay between female hosts and male hosts at the channel.
McGowan said her deal with E! was made before the allegation was made and she intends to address it with E! "Let me hang out for a while," she said, seemingly confident she can create change. Later, an executive from NBCUniversal, E!'s corporate owners, jumped in to say Messing's allegation was not based on fact. The speed of the exec's intervention was telling.
It was pointed out that this year's Sundance Film Festival will start soon, and McGowan was asked for her thoughts on whether there's anything a film festival can do to make it a better place for women, a less dangerous place.
First, she said, "No, I think what I'm doing with this show, over all to everybody, will actually do that, and I think that what's going on now globally will do that exact thing."
But then she said, "You've got 96-per-cent male directors in the Directors Guild of America. Fix that, and then you'll have a different Sundance, won't you? Fix it at every corporation in the city. Fix it in every industry, because we all know the truth."
And she left the room as she came. Composed, strong, angry and certain that what will be in Citizen Rose is another step to ensure that what happened to her does not happen to others.