×

‘Black Lightning,’ ‘Sharp Objects,’ ‘East Los High’ Bosses on ‘Accountability’ and ‘Integrity’ at a Time of #MeToo

In an era of #MeToo revelations, the pressing question is what comes next to fundamentally shift the toxic behavior that often festers in the industry.

“I think we’re in the beginning of accountability. It’s scratching the surface,” “East Los High” executive producer Mauricio Mota said at the ATX Television Festival Saturday.

It’s been more than eight months since the wave of allegations came out against Harvey Weinstein, et al., and Mota noted one change is that some people are more careful about expressing themselves.

“Every week I hear a different story about ‘That person is thinking five times before saying something in the writers’ room.’ That’s a good sign, but it’s not change. It just means the bully is really controlling the words he or she says. …Our industry has so many rules; you need to go through this specific gate keeper. Because of those rules, a lot of that abuse happens.”

For television shows, writer Pam Veasey (“CSI: NY”) stressed the importance of having a responsible and ethical showrunner lead the way.

“What they do in a room and how they run their show and what integrity they have should be followed by the people who work for them,” she said. “They have to be the example. At times there are questions of what choices you have to make. You work so hard to get here, and when you get here, you want to stay in it. It’s such a shame that you would have to make the choice of your own personal integrity or the job. There are so many choices you have to make as women…but you have to believe you’re in an environment where you’re safe.”

However, trying to combat abuse, especially when you’re new, can be difficult.

“Being able to speak up is a position of privilege,” executive producer Marti Noxon (“Dietland,” “Sharp Objects”), who was in the audience, pointed out.

Kathleen McCaffrey, senior vice president of programming at HBO, noted she has seen a difference in younger employees. “The generation under me is more willing to talk…the women who work at the lower levels are calling it out,” she said. “I’ve been impressed that if something feels wrong, they’re saying it. It’s going to be slow, but I think it’s happening.”

Executive producer Jessica Rhoades (“Sharp Objects”) acknowledged this is a learning opportunity for people in power to learn how much harm their thoughtless comments and action can cause.

“As much as I feel like we’ve learned to [keep our frustrations quiet, I don’t think they’ve been given the opportunity to learn, because they didn’t have the opportunity to know the thing they did made us uncomfortable. They learned, too,” Rhoades said. “No one heard it was wrong [prior to this].”

“Black Lightning” creator Salim Akil reiterated the importance of standing up for yourself, pointing to his own history of being labeled “genre” — and having his experience questioned — due to his previous work creating shows with black leads.

“The moment you hit the boards, you have to choose to fight, he said. “There are a lot of not only privileged, but people who have been privileged for a very long time…it’s almost like a bully. As soon as you decide, ‘F— you, i’m not going to let you wield this power over me’…most of them will actually listen. They’re not necessarily listening to you because you have something interesting to say, but you have something interesting to sell. I think it won’t be a situation where we’re expecting them to change. We’re changing the dynamic.”

More TV

  • ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired

    ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired by Showtime for U.S.

    Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Group’s film and television division, along with Capitol Music Group, Motown Records and Fulwell 73 announced today that “Hitville: The Making of Motown” has been acquired by Showtime for release in North America with plans for a fall premiere, and Altitude for theatrical release in the UK and Ireland. The feature-length [...]

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • 'Fleabag' Season 2 Review: How Its

    'Fleabag': Season 2’s Top 10 Breaks From Reality, Ranked (Column)

    The searing first season of “Fleabag” felt like a complete story in and of itself. As adapted from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show, the series expanded on the world of a woman wild with lust and grief with such expert ease that by the time it ended, even Waller-Bridge herself was sure that it was the [...]

  • Richard Madden Says 'Game of Thrones'

    Richard Madden Says the 'Game of Thrones' Cast Deserves a Medal

    Richard Madden is thankful for his time on “Game of Thrones,” but is also happy to have been able to move on when he did. The “Bodyguard” star sat down with “Sharper Objects'” Amy Adams for Variety’s Actors on Actors, where he expressed some incredulity at the idea of spending so long with just one [...]

  • MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r)

    Submissions Now Welcome for Third 'Meet the Press' Film Festival

    Chuck Todd’s quest to bring “Meet the Press” to the movies continues. The third annual Meet the Press Film Festival, held in collaboration with the American Film Institute, will take place on October 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C., and remains a haven for issue-focused documentary shorts. Todd believes the event serves a critical mission: [...]

  • Winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song

    Netherlands' Duncan Laurence Wins 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

    Madonna’s controversial performance may have grabbed the headlines, but Duncan Laurence won the nearly four-hour-long 2019 Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands with the song “Arcade,” which he cowrote with Joel Sjöö and Wouter Hardy. Laurence won a total of 492 points from the expert juries and televoters in a contest that was touch and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content