Roy Price, the head of Amazon’s video division, was suspended by the company Thursday after a producer publicly accused him of sexually harassing her.
The move follows accusations by actress Rose McGowan to Amazon’s CEO that her complaints about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein were ignored.
An increasing number of women have spoken out about alleged sexual harassment in the entertainment industry since the New York Times first published its bombshell story of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Weinstein last Thursday.
Isa Hackett, producer on the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle,” described her evening encounter with the chief of Amazon Studios in 2015, when he allegedly made unwanted sexual remarks that were “shocking and surreal,” according to an interview with the Hollywood Reporter published Thursday. While riding a taxi to a company party together with Price and Michael Paul, then a top Amazon executive and now chief executive of BamTech, Price repeatedly propositioned her, Hackett said.
At the party, Price approached her again even while she was talking with other executives, and said “Anal sex!” loudly in her ear, Hackett said.
Hackett is the daughter of Philip K. Dick, whose work forms the basis of the “High Castle” series.
In a statement to the Post, an Amazon representative said, “Roy Price is on leave of absence effective immediately. We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co.”
Price, an English major from Harvard University, is the son of Frank Price, who ran Universal Pictures in the ’70s and ’80s. His grandfather, Roy Huggins, created legendary television series like “The Fugitive” and “Maverick.” Amazon Studios, which launched in 2010, is expected to spend some $4.5 billion this year on acquiring and producing video programming. It has produced comedies like the award-winning “Transparent,” but hasn’t had hits like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” or Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.
Hackett’s allegations come as more women have spoken out about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, ignited by allegations against Weinstein. So far, 32 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault, according to a running list being kept by Vanity Fair. Among them are Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale.
Hackett told the Hollywood Reporter that the mounting allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Weinstein from numerous women, as detailed in the New York Times and the New Yorker, had inspired her to speak out about her experience.
“I think women inspire each other. I feel inspired by the other women who have been far braver than I am, who have come forward,” Hackett said. “I hope we all continue to inspire each other and ultimately create change.
Hackett does not intend to pursue legal action against Amazon or Price, according to an email from her attorney Christopher Tricarico, the Associated Press reported.
Hackett’s allegations against Price were initially reported in the tech news website The Information in August.
Price’s suspension on Thursday could pose another complication for Amazon Studios as it tries to get back on track after failing to win a single prize at the Primetime Emmy Awards, while its rivals Hulu and Netflix swept multiple honors. Questions about potential conflicts of interest involving Price are also contributing to low employee morale, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
According to the Journal, Price last year pushed for the purchase of an idea for a series from his fiancee, Lila Feinberg. Some employees were uncomfortable because they felt that a character in the series resembled Price, the Journal reported, and after a conflict-of-interest review by the legal department, the studio decided not to buy the script.
On Thursday, McGowan, who according to the Times privately settled with Weinstein in 1997 after an episode in a hotel room at a film festival, tweeted directly at Bezos, alleging that the head of Amazon Studios had ignored her complaints against Weinstein, whom she accused of raping her.
“Amazon won a dirty Oscar,” she added.
In the week since the allegations against Weinstein were first publicized, the 65-year-old Hollywood producer has been fired as co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, which he co-founded with his brother. On Tuesday, his wife of 10 years, Georgina Chapman, announced that she was leaving him. While Weinstein initially apologized for his behavior, he has also “unequivocally denied” any allegations of nonconsensual sex, spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said in a statement to The Washington Post.