Former E! host Catt Sadler has condemned the firing of a producer who allowed criticism of the cable channel to air during its Golden Globes red-carpet coverage.
“It’s disappointing that any network would order the censorship of opinions,” Sadler told Variety Saturday. “But it’s particularly disturbing in this case because we are at a cultural tipping point where women feel more and more comfortable being vocal about issues like pay equality and sexual misconduct. To shut down those conversations is to stifle progress.”
Sadler’s comments came one day after Aileen Gram-Moreno filed a complaint against E! with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a first step toward a lawsuit against the cable channel. Gram-Moreno claimed that she was fired for allowing a pre-recorded interview with actress Eva Longoria to make it into the live feed of E!’s red carpet telecast at the Golden Globes in January. In the interview with E! anchor Ryan Seacrest, Longoria criticized E!’s treatment of Sadler, who left the cable channel after learning that she made a significantly lower salary than her male counterpart Jason Kennedy.
E! has claimed that Gram-Moreno, a freelance producer who worked for 12 years on E!’s signature red-carpet telecasts, was let go for a long-term poor performance issue. Gram-Moreno’s attorney told Variety Friday that E! “never once raised a performance issue” with Gram-Moreno during her time at the cable channel.
Gram-Moreno said that after actress Debra Messing criticized the network’s treatment of Sadler in an earlier interview, the producer was told to screen all prerecorded interviews for mention of the former host. But, Gram-Moreno claimed, the number of prerecorded interviews was much higher than usual, as producers worried that Sadler’s name would continue to surface. The size of workload, she said, made it impossible to thoroughly screen all interviews.
Gram-Moreno’s complaint comes as Seacrest, the lead red-carpet anchor for E!, faces sexual harassment allegations first detailed in a report Monday by Variety. E! has said Seacrest will anchor Sunday’s Academy Awards red-carpet telecast. Publicists reached by Variety this week indicated that their clients will not speak with Seacrest on Saturday. Others however said that they would not hesitate to allow their clients to be interviewed by the host, citing an E! investigation that found “insufficient evidence” of wrongdoing on Seacrest’s part.