The Hollywood Reporter ran an article on former producer Eric Weinberg, written by Samuel Braslow and magazine editor Kim Masters. Braslow has been reporting on Weinberg’s misconduct for years.
Although his downfall occurred long before #MeToo was a movement, like Harvey Weinstein and Danny Masterson, whose rape trial ends, Weinberg was arrested and is on trial facing 18 sexual assault charges, including the rape.
Weinberg had worked in the industry for 20 years, despite multiple complaints of blatantly misogynistic and inappropriate behavior at work, including on high-profile shows like “Veronica’s Closet,” Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” and “Scrubs,” his most prominent work. But, in 2006, he was fired from “Scrubs” for alleged misconduct, only to be hired on the show “Californication.” Despite the reported misbehavior, he continued to get jobs in Hollywood. Was there a culture of complicity?
Additionally, entertainment service companies will face tough times and plan to announce hiring freezes and layoffs soon.
This segment has been edited for length and clarity.
Was Eric Weinberg hiding in plain sight?
Masters Kim: [Eric Weinberg’s] ICM agents continued to represent him for years, and he went from show to show and this behavior seems to have escalated rather than the reverse.
The haunting line in that article is that one of the writers who worked with him said his behavior in those plays was such that she wondered if he was “hiding in plain sight.” Not that people suspected he was a criminal of that purported nature, but that his behavior stood out in terms of misogyny and inappropriate conduct in those rooms.
people protect themselves
Matt Belloni: It really gets to the nature of the comedy network, the comedy writers. This guy could be an avatar of the past 20 years in the entertainment industry: if you’re in this club, people will vouch for you, and it doesn’t really matter.
Obviously Bill Lawrence and a lot of those “Scrubs” guys knew what happened and what they said publicly about what happened probably doesn’t quite match the level of behavior which actually happened. And yet he continued to work.
When you get these other jobs, you get them because these showrunners call previous employers and say, “Hey, how’s this guy?” That’s how it goes. That’s how someone can go from one show to another despite this horrible behavior that they are accused of, and continue to work. People protect themselves.
“It doesn’t seem abnormal to me”
mastery: We spoke to Amy Sherman Palladino, who worked on “Veronica’s Closet” and she made a point, an important point, that writers need to be free to say a lot of discolored things or bodily things to get to “the comedy gold,” as she put it.
But she said that writers’ room, “Veronica’s Closet,” was one of the most toxic, so toxic, in fact, that she walked away from sitcoms. She then created “Gilmore Girls” and the “Wonderful Mrs. Maisel”, but she described an environment that was [pornographic] in the writers room, [with] blow up the sex doll hanging from the ceiling.
We have heard of these various women writers. It wasn’t subtle behavior at all for the women on these shows, and yet when we spoke to some of the men, they were like, “Well, that didn’t strike me as unusual.” »
“People should be free to say shocking things”
mastery: There was an environmental dispute in the “Friends” writers’ room, but it was dismissed.
belloni: It was a key case because in the litigation of “friends”, it was the exact argument. A writer’s assistant sued and said it was a hostile work environment she was forced to be exposed to. The argument of Warner Bros. was basically, “That’s how you do a TV show. People should be free to say inappropriate things, even if they [are] shocking, or exaggerated.
Ultimately, it went through the court system, and this argument prevailed that you can say things that you normally wouldn’t be allowed to say in the workplace, if you’re working on the kind of content which has a more racy side.
“Decisions like this embolden a lot of writers”
belloni: So it was probably kind of, not a get out of jail card, but decisions like that have emboldened a lot of writers to think that “Anything I say is fine.” But it seems that from the stories told in [The Hollywood Reporter piece] That guy’s behavior was way over the top.
mastery: Several women did tell us that they thought the failure of the “Friends” trial had made things worse for them. Hope they are better now.
Plus winter is coming for show biz
mastery: David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery talks about what’s going on with the advertising market, that it’s going to make it very, very difficult. Endeavor locations at Paramount [are] announcing hiring freezes, layoffs. It’s starting to be a very difficult time in the business.
belloni: This is really only the beginning. Warner Bros. Discovery said they hope to be done with the resizing and revamping by the end of this year. But that was before seeing the projections for the first quarter of next year, during which the advertising market is not expected to do very well.
Zaslav also said it was going to be difficult for them. They’re already down to the $12 billion in EBITDA he forecast for the year, and if they don’t get there, they’ll have to [make] additional cuts.
The recession is already here for the advertising market
belloni: Paramount Global does the same. [Disney’s] Bob Chapek sent a memo last week to his boss basically saying, “We’re looking at our cost structure and that’s going to include downsizing and some people are going to be laid off.” Everyone is on edge. It’s sort of the playbook when you hit a recession, and it’s clear that at least in the advertising market, the recession is already here.
mastery: The holidays are likely to be gloomy for many people, unfortunately.