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Emmy Season Faces #MeToo for the First Time

Just two and a half weeks after the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards came to a close, the New York Times published its bombshell, Pulitzer Prize-winning expose on movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault. The episode and its fallout launched the #MeToo movement, emboldening survivors to step forward with their own stories, which have brought down other high-profile names along the way.

That makes this Emmy season, and the forthcoming 70th annual ceremony on Sept. 17, the first to wrangle with the new reality of how such misdeeds are addressed in Hollywood. Already, that reality is shaping the race somewhat.

Late last year, actor Jeffrey Tambor became the target of complaints from two transgender women he allegedly harassed on the set of Amazon’s Emmy-winning series “Transparent.” He has denied those allegations, but was released from the show all the same, and his performance in the program’s fourth season will not be campaigned for Emmy consideration.

Wednesday it was reported that Netflix will pitch Tambor’s supporting turn in the streamer’s revived comedy “Arrested Development” for awards, but no sooner did that news drop than the New York Times chimed in again: An interview with the show’s cast focused, in part, on Tambor’s alleged misbehavior toward co-star Jessica Walter. It was an episode, not sexual in nature, that Tambor himself had previously revealed. The Times discussion brought Walter to tears.

That interview also reflected poorly on actor Jason Bateman, who appeared to be excusing Tambor’s behavior as part of the actor’s process. Calling the outcry over his remarks a “big learning moment” on Thursday, Bateman said, via Twitter, that he was “incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry” to have underestimated Walter’s feelings. Bateman is not only up for consideration in “Arrested Development” but for another Netflix series, “Ozark,” as well.

How could these and other optics make an impact in the coming months? It’s a question worth pondering in the wake of last year’s film awards season.

The lead-up to February’s Oscars ceremony was littered with the detritus of dismantled careers and campaigns. Actors like Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey (the latter outright replaced in the film “All the Money in the World” by Christopher Plummer at the last minute) saw their hopes dashed when multiple people stepped forward with accusations of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, some even attributed James Franco’s Oscar nomination miss for his Golden Globe-winning performance in “The Disaster Artist” to his own brush with the movement right in the thick of balloting. And as something of an accent on the season, two weeks after the Oscars had been handed out, film Academy president John Bailey was hit with accusations and an internal investigation of his own.

Some of the lightning rods won’t figure at all this Emmy season. Spacey will not appear in new episodes of “House of Cards,” which has netted him lead actor nominations for five-straight seasons. Aziz Ansari, meanwhile — who was the focus of a detailed account of aggressive sexual behavior he’s alleged to have displayed during a date — won’t be in the mix with “Master of None” still on hiatus.

There will be other high-profile Emmy-contending names who have been hit with accusations, however. Franco, for one, is in the hunt for his dual performance in HBO’s “The Deuce.” “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, who was accused of sexual harassment by a former E! stylist, will be looking for his seventh nod as emcee for the popular competition program. And as executive producer of “Better Things,” which landed actress Pamela Adlon an acting nomination last year, Louis C.K. is in contention for accolades as well.

Some of this has already played out at January’s Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards: Both Spacey (who did appear in the fifth season of “House of Cards” and was therefore eligible) and Tambor were passed over for recognition by each voting body. But time will tell how the Television Academy will respond.

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