The Oscars red carpet, once arguably the slightest and most inane part of awardings season, has abruptly become the most dramatic.
When Variety published a tale Monday detailing an ex-stylist’s claims that Ryan Seacrest allegedly abused her, one of the immediate reactions–outside of fright, abhorrence, frustration, and, yes, even tinges of skepticism–was how this would affect Seacrest’s status as the most high profile stop on the Oscars red carpet.
According to Suzie Hardy, Seacrest’s former stylist, the Tv personality and media mogul subjected her to years of sexual abuse and harassment, including” grinding his make penis against her while clothe simply in his underwear, fondling her vagina, and at one point slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later .” Seacrest denied the allegations, his lawyer alleged that Hardy was extorting him, and E! liberated the following statement saying it launched an investigation into Hardy’s claims and found insufficient evidence to confirm them.
E! confirmed Tuesday that Seacrest would still host the network’s red carpet pre-show on Sunday.
Barely 12 hours later, another former co-worker of Hardy’s told NBC News that he witnessed Seacrest’s alleged harassment:” She would go to tie his shoe and Ryan would jostle her chief toward his crotch. I watched that more than once .”
More, Page Six is reporting that publicists are promoting their clients to avoid Seacrest wholly on the red carpet, should he remain E !’ s host. Which he shouldn’t. It’s time to fire Ryan Seacrest from the Oscars red carpet.
Without making any ruling on the veracity of either party’s claims–we couldn’t presume to do so–having Seacrest on the red carpet Sunday night is a misjudgment that does far worse than tee up a PR catastrophe for the E! network. It is an act of tone-deafness that doubles as an act of aggression on the women and suns who are put in the awkward and unjust point of weighing whether to make a political statement, or even judgement of guilt, by snubbing Seacrest.
The optics of him maintaining his position is borderline insane.
Sunday’s ceremony comes at the end of an awarding season defined by the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up campaign. The resounding message has been that enough is enough when it comes to the lack of consequences for the predatory behavior and sexual misconduct of Hollywood’s power players. It also has very much been about aiming the various kinds of power dynamic that forces women into compromising postures, otherwise risking professional repercussions.
There is such inherent hypocrisy, after championing the message these women have been preaching these last months, to force them immediately into one such compromising position: confront the accusations against one of Hollywood’s most powerful and influential humen, or( and again without ruling on his remorse) appears to dismiss or condone the allegations by being interviewed by him.
We’ve already witnessed just how impossible all this for the celebrities.
Scandal sun Bellamy Young was asked a leading question Monday evening at the premiere of A Wrinkle in Time em> of determining whether Seacrest should step aside from the red carpet in the wake of the allegations against him. She said yes, in a perfectly reasoned, perfectly woke answer:” I think this is the time to step aside and let person of equal talent that is beyond reproach to be in charge .”
It’s unclear if by her own volition, or under pressure from concerned flacks worried that she may have set herself in poor favor with those in Seacrest’s large-scale orbit, but Young issued an apology the next day.” I apologize to Ryan Seacrest. He has been exonerated from the allegations I was told about on the carpet, so my opinion is different now ,” she said in a statement.
Suddenly someone else’s scandal became her own, which has been the case again and again over these last months as we have put these performers on the spot to speak for, against, on behalf of the members of, or in disapproval of a spectrum of Bad Men’s bad behavior. The sound bite becomes the headline that births the suppose piece. And all after a 30 -second exchange an actor had with an interviewer on a red carpet.
This may be a slight tangent, but Allison Janney and Anna Faris made a great point about this during a bit on Faris’ Unqualified podcast this week, on which Janney was a guest. They taunted the high-pressure, wildly unpredictable nature of red carpet interviews during a role-playing exert in which Faris played an entertainment journalist grilling Janney on everything from who she was wearing, what research she did on her character, whether she’s been sexually harassed, and if she supposes there are still collusion with Russia.
The lunacy of the breadth of questions was the phase of the comedy bit, but there was a harsh true to all of it. Specially now, we’ve set up these gotcha traps for these performers to talk their behaviors into. On the one hand, it’s wonderful that red carpet has taken on weightier subject matter this year. But it was inevitable that the evolution “wouldve been” problematic as well.
Seacrest, ironically, has traditionally been the best of the myriad red carpet hosts in balancing the frivolity of the fashion and pageantry with more meaningful topics. At least he was the interviewer less likely to induce whiplash when follows up on the issue of mani-pedis with what it means to be a woman at this time in our country.
And, along with his power, he has many, many friends in the industry. People really like the guy. Maybe that’s exactly what E! is banking on, that his wide net of friends wouldn’t embarrass him on Sunday by slighting him. But as the showing of support for Catt Sadler at the Golden Globes demonstrated, that might not be the best gamble for the network to make.
E! is part of the NBC Universal umbrella of networks. It is the same umbrella of networks that wouldn’t run Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein investigation, sending him to The New Yorker . That sat on the notorious Donald Trump Access Hollywood videotape. That fostered an unsafe working environment in order to placate Matt Lauer.
Maybe for once it could get things right.