Why Hollywood’s Bad Behavior Is Bad For Business (Guest Blog)

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Imagine going to work one day and discovering an email from your boss threatening to kill you and throw your body out the door if he is unsatisfied with your next project. What would you do? Would you report the behavior to HR? Would you turn to the police? Would you quit your job, or continue working on the project?

It now seems to be almost a daily occurrence, when the media explodes with another case of egregious workplace behavior. These issues are typically brought to light by a lawsuit, an email, a smartphone video or some other form of supporting testimony or documentation.

Recent incidents involve New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and Oscar-nominated director Frank Darabont, who sent explosive emails belittling his subordinates on the set of “The Walking Dead.” Just a few examples of his expletive-laden correspondence include: “F— you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering f—ing incompetence” and “I told those assholes at least half a dozen times. Why don’t they listen when I TELL them the way to do it?”

Also Read: 'Walking Dead': Frank Darabont Accuses Producers of 'F-king Up' Hit Show in Obscene Emails

For too long society has tolerated bad behavior in our work culture. I have served as lead counsel in cases involving Fox, Uber, and many other household names — it’s clear that no industry is immune. Beyond the behavior being problematic, the impact on the businesses and institutions that are called out is usually significant. Most of these incidents, particularly those in the harsh light of social media, which accelerates and amplifies the demand for accountability and action, have resulted in immediate material actions by the respective companies involved. Usually, these include frantic and ongoing attempts at damage control.

Most industries have generally made progress, striving to create workplaces where all employees can feel safe, respected and motivated. However, some industries have been slower to change with the times, or have subverted change due to an inclusive and isolated workplace environment. One of these, sadly, is the entertainment industry.

As proven this summer by actions that temporarily shut down the ABC reality series “Bachelor in Paradise,” the Hollywood set is a workplace that can breed — and turn a blind eye to — inappropriate behavior.

Also Read: 'Walking Dead' Creator Frank Darabont Blasts AMC Brass in Unsealed Deposition

Think about the dynamics: Creating a film or a television show is a relatively short-term engagement, typically conducted in remote locations away from family and friends. These projects are done with an almost nomadic collection of individuals serving at the pleasure of a director or showrunner, who functions as the CEO.

Often, the authority figure on a set has certain idiosyncrasies that are sugarcoated as “artistic license,” and dozens if not hundreds of people are under his or her direct control. There is no Human Resources department, and no one to appeal to in the event of difficult or abusive conduct. Bad behavior goes unreported because the majority of employees are worried about their next job just as much as their current one, working in a tight-knit industry where recommendations and relationships matter much more that the information on a printed resume.

Also Read: 'Bachelor in Paradise' Trailer Teases Sexual Misconduct Storm (Video)

Consider Fox News. The climate of harassment, abuse and inconceivable bad behavior persisted there for many years in major cities despite phones on every desk, corporate hierarchy and Human Resources a call or email away.

Or think about the activities at Uber, once a shining star that gained overwhelming media attention as it redefined personal transportation for millions of riders, now subject to intense scrutiny after numerous scandals including an employee who went public with claims of sexual harassment in the workplace and the CEO yelling at a driver.

Now consider the minimal support mechanisms that exist on a studio lot or remote set in Canada, or Texas or in a country on the other side of the world, where a group of people come together on a tight schedule for a few weeks or months to create a piece of art.

Also Read: Former Fox News Guest Says She Was Sexually Harassed by Roger Ailes' Consultant

We have read about examples of alleged bad behavior in Hollywood becoming public in TheWrap and others like it: David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin on the set of “I Heart Huckabees,” Christian Bale berating a lighting technician on the set of “Terminator: Salvation,” Thomas Gibson’s reported conflicts on the set of “Criminal Minds,” Steve Harvey’s memo to staff, and now, Frank Darabont on “The Walking Dead.”

These examples have been largely viewed as isolated incidents, nowhere near as long-lived or insidious as the systemic behavior at places like Fox News and Uber. The fact is, these tales of bad behavior aren’t one-off situations. They are allowed by the Hollywood set system that routinely turns a blind eye until a real problem is brought forward, typically by way of a lawsuit. The truth is that studios and entertainment companies will not be able to avoid dealing with systematic bad behavior forever.

It’s time for a wake-up call. Acceptable standards of workplace conduct are changing across all industries, and the Hollywood set is not excused. If entertainment companies want to avoid the same fate as companies like Fox News and Uber, acceptable standards of behavior — whether the workplace is a downtown office building, a production lot or a remote set half a world away — must be imposed. After all, we have seen the recent impact of bad behavior. We all know that once these trains start rolling down the tracks, yelling “cut”” will not blunt the inevitable fallout.

Timeline of Fox Sexual Harassment and Other Scandals, From Roger Ailes to Bill O'Reilly (Photos)

  • The sudden ousting of Fox Sports President Jamie Horowitz and the suspension of Fox Business Host Charles Payne this week are the latest signs of a sea shift in the Murdoch-run entertainment giant in its response to allegations of sexual harassment and other questionable behavior by executives and on-air talent.

  • Gretchen Carlson

    July 6, 2016:

    Gretchen Carlson files lawsuit against Roger Ailes

    Former “Fox & Friends” anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, who denied her claims.

    Fox and Friends
  • roger ailes

    July 9, 2016:

    Six other women claim Ailes harassed them

    Former Republican National Committee field adviser Kellie Boyle and model Marsha Callahan were among the six women who accused Ailes of previous harassment. Ailes denied the claims. 

    Getty Images
  • July 19, 2016: Megyn Kelly says she was sexually harassed by Ailes

    Amid an external law firm’s investigation into the multiple claims against Ailes, then primetime host Megyn Kelly told investigators that she had been harassed by Ailes years ago. Kelly wrote in her memoir about talking to investigators about the allegations. 

    Fox News
  • July 21, 2016: Ailes resigns

    Fox News announced that Ailes had resigned as network chairman after two decades of dominating cable news, walking away with a $40 million severance package.

    Getty Images
  • Bill O'Reilly

    Jan. 10, 2017:

    Bill O’Reilly settlement comes to light

    News surfaced that the “O’Reilly Factor” host had previously settled with Juliet Huddy, a Fox News employee who claimed he tried to derail her career after she rebuffed his romantic advances.

    Getty Images
  • March 8, 2017: Fox News settles with Tamara N. Holder

    Fox News paid former on-air contributor Tamara N. Holder more than $2.5 million following allegations that Fox News Latino vice president Francisco Cortes tried to coerce her into performing oral sex on him.

    Fox News Latino
  • fox news logo bill o'reilly sexual harassment scandal timeline recap

    March 24, 2017:

    Fox News comptroller Judy Slater sacked

    Fox News has fired longtime comptroller Judy Slater after an internal investigation concluded she had engaged in a pattern of racist comments and behavior; several of the employees later filed lawsuits against the network over the incidents.

    Fox News
  • Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor

    April 1, 2017

    Claims against O’Reilly settled for $13 million

    A New York Times investigation found that O’Reilly and Fox News had paid $13 million in total to five women who had worked or appeared on “O’Reilly Factor” over the years and made claims of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.

    Fox News
  • Bill Shine

    April 3, 2017:

    Another lawsuit against Ailes and Fox News

    Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a lawsuit accusing Ailes of sexually harassing her. She also alleged that Fox News co-president Bill Shine retaliated against her for making the claims. Ailes denied the allegations, and Shine declined to comment.

    Getty Images
  • No Job Zone Bill O'Reilly

    April 19, 2017:

    Fox News cuts ties with O’Reilly

    Fox News announced that O’Reilly would not return to the network following its external investigation into claims of sexual harassment.

  • April 21, 2017:

    Debbie Schlussel claims Sean Hannity invited her to his hotel

    Former Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel claimed that primetime host Sean Hannity had once invited her back to his hotel after an event they attended, and that she was never invited back to Hannity's show after she rebuffed his advances. The host denied the claims. Schlussel later clarified that she did not consider the encounter to constitute sexual harassment. "I thought he was weird and creepy," she told LawNewz.

    Getty Images
  • roger ailes Andrea Tantaros

    April 24, 2017:

    Andrea Tarantos files her own lawsuit

    Andrea Tantaros, a former host of the Fox show “The Five,” filed a new lawsuit against Ailes, Shine and other network executives, claiming that an extensive online harassment campaign had been waged against her. Fox News sought arbitration and called Tantaros “not a victim” but “an opportunist.”

  • May 1, 2017: Bill Shine resigns

    Following Roginsky and Tarantos’ lawsuits, Fox News announced that Shine was exiting the network.

    Getty Images
  • May 19, 2017:

    Bob Beckel fired at Fox News

    Fox News fired “The Five” co-host Bob Beckel after he was accused of making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee. Fox News human resources took less than 48 hours to investigate the incident and recommend dismissal, a network executive told TheWrap.

    Fox News
  • fox news logo stream sate of the union address to congress donald trump

    June 19, 2017:

    Investigation by the state of New York

    The New York State Division on Human Rights launched an investigation into Fox News, over her sexual harassment claims by former “O’Reilly Factor” guest commentator Wendy Walsh against O’Reilly, Walsh’s attorney Lisa Bloom said. O’Reilly has denied Walsh’s claims.

    Fox News
  • July 3, 2017:

    Fox Sports fires Jamie Horowtiz

    Jamie Horowitz was abruptly ousted from his position as president of Fox Sports National Networks amid allegations of sexual harassment against Horowitz, an individual familiar with the matter told the New York Times. Horowitz’s attorney denied any misconduct.

    Getty Images
  • charles payne fox business

    July 6, 2017:

    Fox Business suspends Charles Payne

    Charles Payne, the host of Fox Business’ “Making Money,” was suspended by the network due to an investigation over a three-year relationship with a married political analyst who appeared as a guest on Fox Business and Fox News, the Los Angeles Times reported. Payne denied allegations of sexual harassment, calling them an “ugly lie.”

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Here’s everything you need to know about accusations that the company has faced so far

The sudden ousting of Fox Sports President Jamie Horowitz and the suspension of Fox Business Host Charles Payne this week are the latest signs of a sea shift in the Murdoch-run entertainment giant in its response to allegations of sexual harassment and other questionable behavior by executives and on-air talent.

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Source : http://www.thewrap.com/hollywood-bad-behavior-business-darabont-fox-news-wigdor/

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