Warner Bros. TV Group has launched an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior by Andrew Kreisberg, an executive producer on the CW shows “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Variety has learned. Kreisberg, who has been suspended by the studio, has engaged in a pattern of alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate physical contact over a period of years, according to 15 women and four men who have worked with him.
“We have recently been made aware of allegations of misconduct against Andrew Kreisberg,” said Warner Bros. TV Group in a statement to Variety. “We have suspended Mr. Kreisberg and are conducting an internal investigation. We take all allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and are committed to creating a safe working environment for our employees and everyone involved in our productions.”
Kreisberg strongly denies the allegations in this story.
None of the 19 sources for this story wanted to be named for fear of retaliation. Many of the women are current or former employees in a range of positions on those shows, and they cited fear of retaliation from either Warner Bros., the studio that makes those dramas, or from the companies and individuals associated with those programs.
“We were recently made aware of some deeply troubling allegations regarding one of our showrunners,” said Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, who head Berlanti Productions which oversee Kreisberg’s shows. “We have been encouraging and fully cooperating with the investigation into this by Warner Bros. There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our cast, crew, writers, producers and any staff. We do not tolerate harassment and are committed to doing everything we can to make an environment that’s safe to work in and safe to speak up about if it isn’t.”
All the men and women who spoke to Variety describe similar incidents of inappropriate touching and endemic sexual harassment; they often told the same stories and corroborated each other’s accounts.
According to sources who either witnessed this behavior or were subjected to it, Kreisberg is accused of frequently touching people without their permission, asking for massages from uncomfortable female staff members, and kissing women without asking. Almost every source cites a constant stream of sexualized comments about women’s appearances, their clothes, and their perceived desirability.
Kreisberg told Variety, “I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized. Like many people, I have given someone a non-sexual hug or kiss on the cheek.” He denies that any inappropriate touching or massages occurred.
None of the sources Variety spoke to reported Kreisberg to Warner Bros. human resources, on the assumption that they would pay a price for that, given how important his position was at the company. “Going to HR never crossed my mind, because it seems like nothing’s been enforced,” one woman says. But as word spread of this story, human resources began interviewing the women on his staff.
Many women said they found the work environment created by Kreisberg to be so hostile and “toxic” that they leave a room when he enters it. Kreisberg reiterated his denial that he gave any staffers unwanted attention.
“I have proudly mentored both male and female colleagues for many years. But never in what I believe to be an unwanted way and certainly never in a sexual way,” he said. But sources paint a different picture.
“The workplace feels unsafe,” one woman says, a sentiment echoed by others. Said another, “He scares people.”
Last year, a high-level female producer who works with Kreisberg brought her concerns about his inappropriate behavior and his harassment of employees to a senior executive at Berlanti Productions, the company owned by mega-producer Greg Berlanti, who oversees all of the series Kreisberg works on. “There was zero response,” this woman says. “Nothing happened. Nothing changed.”
Sources close to Berlanti Productions says Berlanti was never made aware of any allegations about Kreisberg’s behavior, and if he had, he would have directed them to human resources.
A male writer who worked for one of the CW shows Kreisberg has run says, “It was an environment in which women — assistants, writers, executives, directors — were all evaluated based on their bodies, not on their work.”
This male colleague says that he talked to Kreisberg about his behavior a few times, but “it had no impact,” the co-worker says. So the writer came to understand that “sexual harassment and demeaning women was just pervasive there — like white noise in the background,” he says.
This male colleague has known Kreisberg for some time, and about six years ago, he says he also wrote Kreisberg an email to try to get him to change. After these attempts, he says, Kreisberg often would not speak to him for days, or he would ignore what was said.
Asked if any colleague, anyone from Berlanti Productions or anyone from Warner Bros. ever told him that he should not make sexually harassing comments to women, Kreisberg said, “No.”
According to many interviewed by Variety, Kreisberg’s problematic behavior, particularly around women, got worse once he had a great deal of authority as an executive producer on several shows.
“The power went to his head,” says a male writer. “It became clear to me that it would be very dangerous, career-wise, for me to confront him about his behavior.”
Two women say he would talk about how he hired staffers based on their looks, and one quoted him as saying, “You should have seen the other dogs we interviewed for that position.” Kreisberg denies saying this.
“Younger women were constantly belittled and subjected to nasty comments,” says a writer who has worked with Kreisberg.
A high-level producer at a CW show says that a young woman who worked in two successive lower-level jobs was the object of Kreisberg’s “obsessive crush,” and left due to his unwanted attention, an account confirmed by more than a dozen other sources. This former employee did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Kreisberg says that he has devoted attention to younger staffers “as a mentor, yes, to both men and women. In a sexual way, no.”
One woman who had a professional relationship with Kreisberg says that, after a while, the texts that he was sending her took a turn. “It was clear he wanted more than a work relationship,” this woman says. The situation made her uncomfortable, because she did not want anything other than a professional connection with him.
One male writer says that Kreisberg called him into his office to view footage of a woman who was coming in later that day to audition. In the video, the woman was topless.
“My mind went blank. I don’t know what I said,” says the writer, who notes that Kreisberg was grinning. “But my internal reaction was, ‘Why would you show me this — it’s wildly inappropriate!’ I could not get out of there fast enough.”
Kreisberg says that “in doing research on the internet about a prospective actress, we found that she had a role in a premium cable network show. It was not a X-rated show. We clicked on the video and she was topless.”
A woman reports that when a female co-worker walked into his presence, he said, “Wow, you look so tired that I don’t even want to have sex with you anymore.” The woman’s children were present and heard the remark. Kreisberg denies having said this.
Every source agrees that the staffers who received the harshest treatment were usually women. But men were not immune.
A young male “Arrow”-verse staffer recalls that he one day stopped by to see a female colleague, and leaned down on her desk as he talked to her. Without the man’s knowledge, Kreisberg came in, placed his hands on the man’s posterior and began pretending to have sex with him, saying something like, “Well, if you’re offering.” Kreisberg denies that this occurred.
“He laughed, and we all laughed, but I felt very uncomfortable,” this employee says. “I have never had anyone put their hands on me like that in a work situation. He did it because he feels like he can do whatever he wants.”
One female colleague says that Kreisberg “joked” about waking up next to her, while another junior staffer recounts Kreisberg telling a group of employees, in reference to a work trip involving her and Kreisberg, “What happens in Vancouver, stays in Vancouver.” He once asked an array of women for their bra sizes, says a source, citing an impulse to buy a bra for his wife. Kreisberg denies making these comments.
Another woman says that she was asked, in the presence of one other woman, to lie on Kreisberg’s office floor while he assumed a push-up stance over her. Then he asked her to pretend to choke him.
“It was for research, he said,” according to this employee. “I didn’t feel like I had any right to say, ‘This is weird.’” This woman recounts that he mimed having sex with a copy machine once when she and another woman were in the room. She quit over his behavior and the atmosphere it created.
“It is not uncommon in writer’s rooms that we act out what we want production to film,” Kreisberg says. “There was never any sexual intent or overtones.”
Kreisberg and another high-level male producer, at one point, looked at photos of naked women in the presence of two women, one of whom spoke to Variety. Kreisberg says the photo incident did not happen.
Women say that they avoided having to sit on a couch next to him. Multiple women called that place in the room “the hot seat,” because Kreisberg would keep getting closer and closer to the woman next to him, no matter how many times she moved away from him.
Several sources talked about dressing as plainly as they could; one woman says that she even stopped wearing V-neck shirts. “You would have to watch what you said, what you wore, to try to stop being subjected to sexual innuendo,” says one woman.
“As an assistant in this industry, there’s nowhere for me to go,” recalls one woman who ended up quitting. “So I just took it.”