A former producer at E! has filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying she was unfairly terminated because she allowed a clip of a celebrity being critical of the network to air during its Golden Globes red-carpet show in January.
The producer, Aileen Gram-Moreno, told The New York Times that the network asked her to flag celebrity interviews during the event, keeping an eye out specifically for celebrities who mentioned former E! host Catt Sadler.
After Gram-Moreno mistakenly let an interview with Eva Longoria slip through in which Longoria did exactly that, she said, she was fired and was replaced by a man.
“They said, if there’s any mention of [Sadler] in the pre-show, make sure you flag it,” she told the Times, recalling her instructions. “You’re censoring celebrities; it’s just not a good idea in my humble opinion. But it wasn’t my decision.”
Sadler very publicly split with the network in December after she said she learned her male co-host “made close to double my salary for the past several years,” yet she had been denied a pay raise.
Here’s the interview with Longoria that Gram-Moreno says led to her termination:
A source with knowledge of the network’s workflow questioned Gram-Moreno’s account Friday, telling HuffPost that people in her position are typically asked to flag all of the content of celebrity interviews as they come in so the network can prioritize what to air, screen for profanities and the like.
As evidence that the network was likely not explicitly screening mentions of Sadler, the source, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, noted numerous other celebrities also mentioned Sadler on air, including Debra Messing:
An E! spokesperson told HuffPost that Gram-Moreno worked as a freelancer for less than a month each year and was fired for poor job performance.
“For the past decade Aileen Gram Moreno was a freelancer who worked an average of 20 days per year solely for our red carpet coverage,” the spokesperson said. “After the Golden Globes she was asked not to return due to job performance issues. Following an attempt to force E! to pay for her silence Ms. Moreno is now spreading misleading and inaccurate information.”
However, Gram-Moreno’s attorney, Katherine Atkinson, said E! never questioned her work.
“In the 12 years Aileen has been working on red carpet shows for E! they never once raised a performance issue,” Atkinson said in a statement. “That is a convenient excuse for covering up attempts to silence women speaking out. Employers often attack women speaking out about discrimination ― so I am disappointed in E! but not surprised.
“E! can’t have it both ways. They support their position that they were not censoring references to Catt Sadler by pointing to the Eva Longoria interview. But they fired my client for failing to censor that very interview. If you attempt to censor, and then fire the person for not catching the speech you intended to censor for letting it go through, you can’t then claim that you aren’t so bad after all because you ‘let’ it air. Their argument defies logic.”
The EEOC complaint comes against a backdrop of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against TV personality Ryan Seacrest, who will be working the red carpet for E! before the Oscars on Sunday.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that the interview with Debra Messing was the one that led to Gram-Moreno’s dismissal. The interview she cited in her complaint was the one with Eva Longoria.
This article has been updated with a response from Gram-Moreno’s attorney.