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Hollywood Culture Post-Weinstein


It's hard to imagine, but it's been less than a year since Harvey Weinstein, the former powerhouse Hollywood producer, was arrested in New York City on rape charges. With that arrest, he became both criminal defendant and cultural symbol - catalyst for the #MeToo movement and the symbol of a culture of harassment and abuse in Hollywood and beyond.

But on this Oscar weekend, we wanted to check in to see what, if anything, has changed in Hollywood since the beginning of Me Too, so we've called Kim Masters. She's an editor-at-large at the Hollywood Reporter who broke a different story about misconduct by the former head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price. Mr. Price resigned a week after her story was published. Kim Masters, welcome back. Thanks so much for joining us.

KIM MASTERS: Oh, thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So as somebody who's covered Hollywood for a long time, have any tangible things changed since the Me Too movement?

MASTERS: You know, I wrestle with this because there is a lot of lip service paid and, you know, there is going to be, you know, agencies like ICM say we're going to have more women, and it's going to be 50/50 by 2020. And we all heard about the idea of an inclusion rider, or efforts to achieve greater parity - not just for women. But then we see things that are quite disheartening if you're looking for signs of progress.

And, you know, another story I broke involved John Lasseter, who was the head of Disney Animation and Pixar Animation. And he had allegations of inappropriate conduct, and Disney ultimately moved him out. And he was rehired by - not a public company, a private company - Skydance, which is run by David Ellison. He's the billionaire son of multibillionaire Larry Ellison.

So he can do more or less what he wants, and it feels like, with various people, there's just an attempt to try to sort of slip back in and test the waters and see if it works. We saw it with Louis C.K. We saw it with Leslie Moonves. There's a feeling that - are we going back to status quo ante, or are we actually seeing a change?

MARTIN: You know, people have thought that having more women in leadership roles would be one answer to this pattern.

MASTERS: That's the hope, yeah.

MARTIN: And so are there more women in leadership roles, and is it the answer to this problem given what you just told us?

MASTERS: It is so slow, honestly. It is so slow. But we see a lot of men, white men - and every year, the statistics don't change. And I'm not sure we'll see after, you know, they have a chance to assess the year of Time's Up or two years out or how long. I just feel that the culture is so entrenched. I think that progress is going to be extremely slow.

I mean, we did see Roy Price was out as the head of Amazon Studios, and Jenn Salke now runs it. She is a woman. It is a new day. Amazon very deliberately decided to give that job to a woman, so that's one. You know, and again, when Disney replaced John Lasseter, they did put some women in more power, which had been a really big problem at Disney and Pixar Animation under John Lasseter. So, you know, there's an attempt to say OK, well, let's at least fix the optics. And in some cases, it's more than that, but I'm just saying it's really slow.

MARTIN: OK, no, you've given us a lot to think about, and you've already sort of told us a little bit about this, but is there any sort of checklist that anybody can point to in terms of looking for accountability? For example, I mean, there's a Time's Up organization that was founded by Hollywood women like Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon, so is there any entity that's keeping track of progress here, or is there any way that the public can be - can hold these people accountable if they want to think about this as part of thinking about what culture they want to consume?

MASTERS: You know, I would love to end on a note of hope, but the head of Time's Up that they hired, Lisa Borders, just left because her son has been accused of misconduct, and she is absorbed in helping to figure out what he's going to do with this allegation. So Time's Up has struggled a lot to figure out leadership. You know, they wanted to be very non-hierarchical, but in the end of the day, somebody needs to be in charge.

So I think we're still, unfortunately, a ways away from having any kind of group. I mean, the unions could be helpful, but then again, they don't necessarily address this. I mean, I think we're - Hollywood is decentralized. Each movie is its own world - each TV show, so it's not like we have the department of making sure that people don't do bad things.

MARTIN: That's Kim Masters, editor-at-large for the Hollywood Reporter. She was kind of to join us from Houston, Texas, via Skype. Kim Masters, thanks so much for talking to us.

MASTERS: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.