Dec. 22, 8:30 a.m.: This post as been updated to reflect Mark Schwahn’s termination from his most recent job on The Royals
After being accused of sexual harassment by One Tree Hill stars Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz and 15 other female cast and crew members, former showrunner Mark Schwahn has been fired from his current job on the series, The Royals. The women detailed their experiences with the Hollywood executive in an open letter published in Variety on November 13.
A post shared by Sophia Bush (@sophiabush) on
The letter came in the wake of a tweet posted by Audrey Wauchope, who spoke out about a predatory showrunner at her first writing job.
In light of the Andrew Kreisberg reporting, a couple thoughts about my first writing job that I’ve wanted to say for years but have never had the guts to. When I was 29 my writing partner @RachelSpecter and I were hired as staff writers.
— Audrey Wauchope (@audreyalison) November 12, 2017
Though Wauchope, one of the series’ writers alongside Rachel Specter, didn’t mention Schwahn’s name, the open letter did. “To use terminology that has become familiar as the systemic reality of sexual harassment and assault has come more and more to light, Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an ‘open secret,’” the women wrote.
They continued: “Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.”
The cast members wrote they were told to remain silent, and that coming forward about the harassment would be detrimental to their careers and the show. To compensate, the women created safe spaces for themselves to talk about what was happening and get support from each other.
Evidently, Schwahn’s behaviour did not stop with the end of One Tree Hill. Alexandra Park, an actor on The Royals, took to Twitter on November 16 to share that she, too, has been subject to similar kinds of harassment.
In light of Park’s allegations, the first that come from the cast and crew of The Royals, Schwahn was initially temporarily suspended as the claims were investigated. “E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television take sexual harassment allegations very seriously, investigate them thoroughly and independently, and take appropriate action,” the companies said in a joint statement.
After a monthlong investigation amid reports that 25 more women from the cast and crew of The Royals had come forward, Schwahn was officially terminated from the job. “We have concluded our investigation and Mark will not be returning to The Royals,” wrote Lionsgate TV, the studio that produces the series, in a statement on December 21. “The fourth season of the show has already completed production and will air as scheduled on E! in the spring.”
Burton and Bush both took to Twitter after news of Schwahn’s firing broke to reiterate their support for the women who came forward.
1. The reason we cannot condone “degrees of harassment” is because one day you get your butt or boob grabbed at work. And you laugh it off. You become conditioned. “She’s such a good sport” they say. And then? You meet a Schwahn. A Weinstein. https://t.co/axfafD7okg
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) December 22, 2017
Burton detailed her thoughts in a series of four tweets, writing:
“1. The reason we cannot condone “degrees of harassment” is because one day you get your butt or boob grabbed at work. And you laugh it off. You become conditioned. “She’s such a good sport” they say. And then? You meet a Schwahn. A Weinstein.
2. I had no idea how bad OTH really was until I was taken in by the amazing cast and crew of @WhiteCollarUSA. Thank you to them for showing me how it’s SUPPOSED to be. Thank you to the directors who called even though I wouldn’t audition. Thank you to @GreysABC and @ForeverABC.
And most recently @LethalWeaponFOX. You have treated me with such respect and kindness. And my ability to speak up now, all these years later, is because I have seen what filmmaking should be. You can be talented AND kind. And thank you to my OTH sisters.
4. You women are amazing. When I left all those years ago, I could have never anticipated how strong this bond would remain. It’s a good day, gals. Your art matters. It’s what got me here. Xoxoxo.”
43 women came forward. To the ones who did and to the ones who didn’t or couldn’t, I hope this news is a salve to your souls.
To the other predators out there? I hope this is a lesson that sometimes, even if it takes time, justice is served. You’re next. https://t.co/Vq5R0obvjK
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) December 21, 2017
Burton’s former One Tree Hill costar wrote: “43 women came forward. To the ones who did and to the ones who didn’t or couldn’t, I hope this news is a salve to your souls. To the other predators out there? I hope this is a lesson that sometimes, even if it takes time, justice is served. You’re next.”
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