TAKE A KNEE: Two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir didn’t rush off the ice in Bryant Park Thursday night to catch ABC’s “Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story.”
Building off the public’s interest in the Oscar-nominated “I, Tonya,” the documentary fanned the flames of the 24-year-old feud between former Olympians Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. During a training session for the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championship, Kerrigan was clubbed on the right knee by an assailant. It was later determined that Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and a friend, Shawn Eckardt, hired the assailant. During the ABC special, Harding said she had heard the pair talking about “taking someone out” a month or two before the attack.
Weir had laced up his skates Thursday night to perform in “Glitter, Glam and Gold” at the Bank of America Winter Village.
During a phone interview Friday, Weir said he loves actors Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney so much that it is hard for him not to watch “I, Tonya.” “But for me growing up in the world of skating, Tonya Harding is a villain. She’s not somebody that I want to support even in a backhanded way by going to a theater and purchasing a ticket to see the film.” Weir said. “Nancy Kerrigan is a friend of mine, and a dear friend at that. I would feel disrespectful to her by going and sort of publicizing this horrible act that Tonya Harding had some knowledge of and that Nancy Kerrigan was the victim of — especially now, when there is so much focus and attention on assault of any kind, or discrimination of any kind.”
Weir continued, “People often forget that while Tonya Harding had a very abusive childhood and grew up with not a lot of money, Nancy Kerrigan didn’t have a lot of money either. There was so much made about their financial standing when they were young skaters and that that was what separated them. What separated them was a good person versus a bad person. I don’t think it’s right for Hollywood to accept Tonya Harding. I know that Tonya tried to shed some light on the situation but at the end of the day, Tonya Harding did a terrible thing and I don’t want to support it.”
He added, “If we’re going to applaud anybody, it should be Nancy Kerrigan, who is the victim of assault and rose up and earned an Olympic medal by working hard and not using a club to get ahead.”
Harding could not be reached for comment Friday, since her representative Michael Rosenberg quit due to her request that journalists sign affidavits or face $25,000 fines for inquiring about her past. As of Friday, “I, Tonya” had earned nearly $6.7 million at the box office in the month or so since its release. The ABC News special on Harding helped to further fuel the public’s interest, winning its two-hour time period with adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54, and running a strong second for total viewers behind CBS, according to an ABC spokeswoman.