One of the bigger story lines heading into Oscar Sunday has less to do with the movies than the person asking about them on the red carpet. And some stars have spoken publicly about the controversy.
As of Wednesday, Ryan Seacrest, a red-carpet staple, will co-host E!’s coverage as planned. That decision comes after a detailed Variety piece in which his former stylist accuses him of sexual misconduct, allegations that he vehemently denies.
Awards shows are among the most public collective gathering places for Hollywood, which is undergoing a reckoning with sexual harassment and abuse. At recent Golden Globes and Grammys ceremonies, celebrities showed up wearing pins and clothing in support of victims, and many pre-show interviews focused on those topics.
Publicists speaking to Page Six and other outlets have said they may want to steer their celebrity clients away from a Seacrest interview. Others have said that although some will avoid him, other clients will talk with the longtime host, who is well-known to many celebrities.
Seacrest’s “Live” co-host Kelly Ripa didn’t mention the allegations specifically Thursday, but she gushed about her excitement over his Oscar duties as she issued a strong endorsement of his character.
“I just want you to know that you are a privilege to work with, and I adore you, and I’m speaking on behalf of all of us here,” she said. “I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very,very lucky to work with you each and every day.”
Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel told Variety on Wednesday that “of course” he plans to keep his scheduled post-award show interview with Seacrest.
“Listen, you know, we should at the very least afford people the opportunity for truth, what the facts of the story are before hanging them out to dry,” he said. When the outlet asked Kimmel whether he’d bring up the allegations, the late-night comic said no, adding, “He’s interviewing me.”
In the Variety piece published Monday, a former stylist at E! News, Suzie Hardy, accused Seacrest of sexual harassment and abuse after she began working for him 2007. Hardy told Variety she reported him to human resources in 2013 and was let go.
E! launched an independent investigation in November after the complaint was first reported and concluded in February that there was “insufficient evidence” to support the claims and therefore they “could not be substantiated.”
After Variety’s detailed story published Monday, E! called the claims “completely baseless.” Seacrest said, “I don’t want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest.”
At the Monday premiere for “A Wrinkle in Time,” actress Bellamy Young told a journalist that Seacrest should “step aside” from hosting the Oscars red carpet, but then later apologized, saying in part “he has been exonerated from the allegations I was told about on the carpet, so my opinion is different now.”
After Howard Stern detailed the allegations to his guest Jennifer Lawrence, the actress responded, “I can’t imagine him being sexual. I don’t know about the Ryan Seacrest thing.”
She continued: “I think it is scary. He has not been to a trial or anything. I am not a judge. I am not a jury. I don’t know … that is where this stuff gets tricky.”
She also doesn’t know if she’ll skip the E! camera, and also brought up former E! host Catt Sadler, who left the network after she said she learned that she made less than her male co-anchor. (Lawrence is working with Sadler on a docuseries about the “Me Too” movement.)
“They aren’t bringing another co-star up,” Lawrence told Stern. “I have noticed that they keep cycling these women and I am going … is that so you don’t have to pay another woman equally to Jason [Kennedy]? Is this just a way to still maintain that you are not paying women equally?”
“I mean, there is a lot to think about with E!, you know?” Lawrence said. “I have always had a problem with the ‘Fashion Police.’ I don’t have a problem with talking about what women are wearing. There was a time they were … they were just mean about people’s bodies, things you shouldn’t say.”