Amid the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements of the past few months, accusations have surfaced against E!’s Ryan Seacrest—and now, a recent story in Variety has made the details of the sexual assault allegations, and the name of his accuser, public.
The allegations against the American Idol and Live with Kelly and Ryan host come from his former stylist Suzie Hardy, who worked with Seacrest on E! News in 2007. Hardy told Variety that she experienced multiple instances of sexual misconduct while working at E! News between 2007 and 2013. These incidents include, on separate occasions, having Seacrest shove her head towards his crotch when she was tying his shoes, rubbing his erect penis against her while he was wearing only his underwear, and in one instance in 2010, tightly grabbing her vagina. Hardy went to human resources in 2013 and told Variety she “was in there for hours. I told them everything.” She was let go two weeks later. Hardy’s claims have not been proven in a court of law, and Seacrest has denied these allegations since they made headlines late last year.
Hardy’s lawyer brought her allegations forward to E!’s parent company, NBCUniversal, in November, prompting the entertainment network to investigate Seacrest. After three months, E! concluded its investigation (conducted by outside counsel) saying they found “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest and therefore could not be substantiated.” In light of the new Variety article, the network reiterated that their investigation was thorough and that “any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless.”
Despite the headlines, Seacrest has continued to work for E!—often speaking to celebs about Time’s Up and #MeToo and donning black in support of the movement at the Golden Globes. But the recent Variety story has many wondering if the network will continue with their plan to have Seacrest host the upcoming Academy Awards red carpet.
— Eric King (@erickingdavid) February 26, 2018
Time’s Up has not yet released any plans or organized dress code for the Oscars, but there is no doubt that issues surrounding sexual harassment and inequality will be top of mind on the red carpet. Currently, Seacrest is still scheduled to host the E! Oscar’s red-carpet preshow. However, with the details of the allegations still making headlines, some publicists are planning to have celebs in their charge avoid Seacrest all together.
“Usually Ryan is the one you want. . . but there are so many outlets on that carpet, why risk it? There’s plenty of other places for clients to get the exposure,” an unnamed PR source told Page Six. Another unnamed publicist added: “If it was a [client who had been involved in the #MeToo movement], I would never put them in that position. I don’t think any smart person would.”
E! News also announced that this year, their Oscar’s red carpet interviews would be aired with a 30-second delay. The network said that it was “business as usual,” but many viewed the delay as a way of editing out any awkward encounters with Seacrest.
E! is putting tonight's red carpet on tape delay so that if anyone says anything mean—or, you know, true—about Ryan Seacrest the viewers won't see it. https://t.co/W7Hdj4fsAE
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) March 4, 2018
So, here’s the thing: Obviously, I’d love to see E! do an All the Money in the World-style swap, pulling Seacrest out of promos and off the carpet in favour of someone who deserves that coveted spot. May I suggest, for instance, former E! News host and current pay equity advocate Catt Sadler? That would send the right message that—at the very least—E! is aware that they may need to revisit Seacrest’s case in light of the latest story.
— Lindsay (@LinzS84) February 27, 2018
Good lord, if Ryan Seacrest is on that #Oscars Red Carpet, he’s asking for trouble.
Because someone may just knock his block off on International TV…
— Kevin D. Grüssing (@KevDGrussing) February 27, 2018
BUT, given that Hollywood’s biggest night will also arguably be Time’s Up’s biggest platform, a small part of me also wants to see Seacrest on that carpet, facing the tough questions he is sure to get from actors-turned-activists. What does he have to say for himself? Does the Variety story make him rethink wearing a Time’s Up pin? Would he consider leaving his post voluntarily if E! won’t pull the plug—similar to what Casey Affleck opted to do? Imagine those questions all answered live on television.
One of the most talked-about moments from the Golden Globes was when E! correspondent Giuliana Rancic fielded Debra Messing’s pointed criticism of E!’s pay gap. “I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-host the same as their male co-host,” said Messing. “I miss Catt Sadler. Messing then put out a call to action: “That can change tomorrow. We want people to start having this conversation that women are just as valuable as men.” Having actors directly confront industry insiders that, arguably, are part of the problem not only makes for riveting television, but is inspiring to watch—and I can’t help but be curious as to what that moment would look like between, say, Meryl Streep or Octavia Spencer and Seacrest.
Let me be clear, it is not the responsibility of these women to hold men accountable for their actions. The emotional weight that these activists carry—specifically having to constantly defend their experiences and their right to their own bodies—is completely unfair. What I’m simply saying is this: if E! has the audacity to ignore the current climate and put Seacrest on the red carpet once again, we may just be in for the most dramatic Oscars yet.
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