Harvey Weinstein

Amazon film chief put on leave, and McGowan accuses Weinstein of rape, as Hollywood scandal widens

Studio chief Roy Price is accused of crudely propositioning producer, while actress Rose McGowan says she warned Amazon that Weinstein assaulted her and was ignored

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 10:26am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 9:40pm

The head of Amazon Studios was put on leave Thursday following sexual harassment allegations from a producer on the Amazon series Man in the High Castle, adding to Hollywood’s crisis over its mistreatment of women.

Studio executive Roy Price is on a leave of absence effective immediately, Amazon said in a statement. He is accused of crudely propositioning producer Isa Hackett.

The company also said it’s reviewing its options for projects it has with The Weinstein Co, the embattled firm that fired co-founder Harvey Weinstein on Sunday over an avalanche of allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.

The announcements came after actress Rose McGowan said on Twitter Thursday that she had warned Amazon not to do business with Weinstein and was ignored.

Hollywood’s ugly history of sexual harassment goes back 100 years

The actress forcefully re-emerged from a suspension from Twitter, stating bluntly what she has long suggested: “HW raped me.”

Amazon is developing two series with The Weinstein Co, The Romanoffs from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and an untitled drama from filmmaker David O. Russell and starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.

Dozens of women, including actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have gone public with accusations against Weinstein after a report by The New York Times on misconduct claims by others. Many are calling for sweeping changes in the industry, and urging more women to speak out about harassment and abuse.

The Eastern branch of the Writers Guild of America noted the scope of the problem in a statement Thursday, writing “sexual harassment and assault have long been hallmarks of the entertainment industry.”

The Amazon statement tied together the Weinstein scandal roiling Hollywood and rumoured allegations against Price by producer Hackett. Details of her claims were first reported by The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.

Christopher Tricarico, an lawyer for Hackett, said that the trade paper’s account of her allegations was accurate.

Hackett, a producer on Amazon’s High Castle drama based on the work of her late father, author Philip K. Dick, alleged that Price propositioned her with crudely suggestive language after a 2015 Comic-Con event in San Diego.

Hackett doesn’t intend to pursue legal action against Amazon or Price, Tricarico said in an email Thursday, adding that she declined further comment.

Jolie, Paltrow accuse Weinstein of harassment, as others allege rape

According to Hackett’s account in The Hollywood Reporter, she met Price for the first time at a post-convention dinner attended by the cast of High Castle and Amazon staff.

He invited her to a company party at a hotel and she joined Price and another then-Amazon executive in a cab ride there. According to Hackett, Price repeatedly propositioned her, saying, “You will love my [slang for penis].”

Price persisted at the party even after Hackett told him she was a lesbian with a wife and children, she told the trade paper. At one point, she said, Price drew close to her and loudly said, “anal sex!” even as others stood nearby.

She promptly told Amazon executives, Hackett said, and the company brought in an outside investigator. Hackett said she did not receive word of the results but never again saw Price at events involving her Amazon shows, which include High Castle and the upcoming Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.

In a series of tweets Thursday, McGowan addressed Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and said she repeatedly told an Amazon Studios executive that “HW raped me.” McGowan says the executive told her it wasn’t proven and she said “I am the proof.”

She pleaded with Bezos to end his company’s alleged involvement in a culture of exploitation and abuse.

McGowan last year said she had been raped by a “studio head”. A New Yorker expose that ran on Tuesday reported that Weinstein had allegedly sexually assaulted three women, though the third woman was unnamed. The New York Times earlier reported that Weinstein paid a financial settlement of US$100,000 to McGowan in 1997 over an incident in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.