Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke is speaking out against E! News’ decision to continue having Ryan Seacrest spearhead its Academy Awards red carpet coverage despite recent sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The decision, she told Variety in a story published Sunday, is unfair to actresses who will have to decide whether to cooperate with his interview efforts at tonight’s telecast.
“We shouldn’t have to make those choices of, ‘Do we or don’t we?’” said Burke, whose campaign exploded last fall as dozens of women in Hollywood came forward with stories of sexual harassment and abuse they’ve faced working in the entertainment industry.
“This is not about his guilt or innocence,” Burke said. “It’s about there being an accusation that’s alive, and until they sort [it] out, it’s really on E! News and shouldn’t be on us. … It will let us know where they stand in terms of how respectful E! News is of this issue ― and of women.”
In a story published last week, Seacrest’s former personal stylist told Variety that the E! host sexually harassed and assaulted her over a period of seven years. The stylist, Suzie Hardy, said the network fired her in 2013 after she reported her allegations to the E! human resources department.
Seacrest has denied the accusations, and E! said last week that an independent third party carried out a comprehensive, two-month investigation that cleared his name of any wrongdoing.
But those advocating for fairer treatment of women in Hollywood may have other reasons to stay clear of E! and Seacrest on the red carpet.
In December, then-E! host Catt Sadler announced she was leaving the network, largely because she was only being paid half the salary of her male co-star and her requests for a raise were denied once she discovered that.
Last week, a former producer at E! filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stating she was unfairly terminated because she allowed a clip of a celebrity being critical of the network’s handling of the Sadler matter to air during the network’s Golden Globes red carpet show in January.