Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios (seen above talking with Jeff Bezos), has been suspended after allegations of sexual harassment were leveled at him by Isa Hackett, one of the producers of the company’s first series, The Man in the High Castle. A potentially cozy relationship with disgraced Hollywood power broker Harvey Weinstein may also have contributed to his ouster.
Hackett, who is currently working on another Philip K. Dick adaptation for the company, made her allegations public earlier today in an interview with Hollywood Reporter. She said that Price invited her to a staff party, and in the taxi there (with another person in it, even) propositioned her repeatedly, saying “You will love my dick.”
Hackett says she told Price she wasn’t interested, and furthermore that she has a wife and children; he didn’t give up, continuing to harass her, and yelled “anal sex” in her ear at the party.
Others were witness to this behavior, and Hackett reported it immediately. Amazon brought in someone to investigate, but the outcome of that investigation isn’t public. The company told the Hollywood Reporter that “we looked closely at this specific concern and addressed it directly with those involved.”
They addressed it again, apparently, hours after Hackett went public. An Amazon statement issued later in the afternoon said that “Roy Price is on leave of absence effective immediately. We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co.”
It’s no coincidence that this happened shortly after decades of sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein were dragged into the light for the umpteenth time by several women, whose stories the New York Times printed in a feature last week. The New Yorker collected more, publishing them online on Tuesday (in print this week).
Among those women is Rose McGowan, who took to Twitter yesterday to take Roy Price to task for failing to listen to her repeated complaints about Weinstein.
In a series of tweets yesterday, McGowan explained that when Weinstein was being considered for a producer role on a show of hers, she told Price several times that Weinstein had raped her and that Amazon should decline to do business with him. Price apparently did not agree; Weinstein was brought on (to what project exactly it isn’t clear) and the result was Amazon Studios winning what McGowan called “a dirty Oscar.”
The exposure of this ugly, yet far from unfamiliar, side of Hollywood mirrors a similar movement in Silicon Valley, where many women in tech have recently found the courage to speak out on their own sexual harassment.
CEOs, investors, and others in the industry have been accused by women who had sometimes remained silent for years. Some allegations resulted in firings, some in resignations, some in major reorganizations.
Clearly rape culture is pervasive in many industries, but especially those historically dominated by men. That’s changing, but it’s a slow and painful process. As Hackett concluded in her interview with the Hollywood Reporter:
It is said over and over and sounds like a cliché, but we desperately need more women in leadership positions in Hollywood. There’s a culture of harassment [in Hollywood] and we need an infusion of new and diverse leadership, not just including women but gay people, people of color, people with disabilities — people with the full spectrum of life experience.
I’ve asked for more details from Amazon and will update this post if I hear back.