The head of programming at HBO says that the network has examined all of its shows and corrected gender pay disparities among staff, inspired by “Big Little Lies” star and producer Reese Witherspoon and the larger Time’s Up movement.
“One of the things that’s come out of thinking about the movement and some conversations with Reese, who’s really at the forefront, is something we’ve done recently,” Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming, told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Monday. “We’ve proactively gone through all of our shows — in fact, we just finished our process where we went through and made sure that there were no inappropriate disparities in pay; and where there were, if we found any, we corrected it going forward.”
Bloys would not elaborate on which of the network’s shows required adjusting pay. A spokesman for HBO declined to comment further. Witherspoon’s representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Other popular shows and networks have had to address similar pay gaps. Netflix’s “The Crown” generated controversy when producers admitted that actress Claire Foy was paid less than male costar Matt Smith, despite Foy playing the central character.
Bloys said that pay would be commensurate with experience but that the network sought to eliminate “wildly disparate” pay, especially when a show is successful.
“When you’re putting a show together, people come in with different levels of experience and maybe some people have won awards or something that makes them stand out,” he said. “But when you get into season two or three of a show and the show is a success, it is much harder to justify paying people wildly disparate numbers.”
Witherspoon has been an outspoken leader of Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement, which established a legal defense fund to assist women across all industries facing sexual harassment and other gender-related workplace injustices.
The popularity and critical acclaim of “Big Little Lies” last year, which Witherspoon and costar Nicole Kidman helped bring to HBO, marked a watershed moment for shows created by and about women. Originally slated as a limited series, the show’s second season will air in 2019.