Morgan Freeman's transit ads on hold after harassment allegations emerge
A series of Metro Vancouver transit announcements voiced by Morgan Freeman has been put on hold after allegations of sexual harassment emerged against the Hollywood actor.
The announcements, which include a number of transit etiquette tips, were part of a Visa ad campaign that started running at stations just this week.
But the region's transit provider said the campaign is on "pause" Thursday in the wake of a CNN report outlining claims of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour levelled by eight women.
"We learned of these allegations along with everyone else this morning," TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews said. "We take them seriously. This is why we put a pause on (the) campaign featuring Mr. Freeman's voice."
Drews said TransLink is working with Visa to determine the next steps, but the transit provider has no control over who the company uses as its spokesperson.
"It's up to them," she told CTV News. "Visa bought ads on our system. That contract remains."
In a statement to CTV News, the credit card company said it was aware of the allegations against Freeman.
"At this point, Visa will be suspending our marketing in which the actor is featured," the emailed statement read.
According to CNN, another eight people came forward to corroborate the eight accusers' allegations.
The report describes a pattern of inappropriate behaviour on and off film sets, and while promoting movies at Freeman's production company, Revelations Entertainment.
Freeman issued a statement responding to the allegations Thursday morning, saying he is "not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy."
"I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected – that was never my intent," the actor said.
Freeman's voice announcements were announced Tuesday by TransLink, and were supposed to help alert riders about the transit system's new tap credit card payments.
After hearing the campaign had been suspended, social media users started suggesting Visa record new announcements using a Canada-born celebrity, such as Ryan Reynolds, Michael J. Fox or even Nardwuar the Human Serviette.
Actor Seth Rogen jumped into the discussion on Twitter, writing "Yo if they need a replacement now let me know."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sheila Scott and Jon Woodward