In the weeks since the New York Times and the New Yorker brought down Harvey Weinstein, women in Hollywood have continued to speak out.
Two of those women recently wrote powerful personal essays for the Hollywood Reporter about their own experiences with discrimination and harassment in the industry. We asked them to share their stories on the show today.
Krista Vernoff is the executive producer and showrunner of Grey's Anatomy on ABC. Several years ago, she was trying to cast a TV pilot. The choice was between two women. One clearly was the stronger actress and better for the role. Everyone agreed -- except the male network president. He said the other actress had a sexier build. One of his underlings -- a woman executive -- spoke up on behalf of the choice that everyone else had favored. Vernoff got the actress of her choice but two weeks later, that female executive was abruptly fired.
Vernoff says fear of of retaliation and being labeled a "difficult woman" is one reason many women in Hollywood don't report discrimination or abuse. She shares some of her own experiences with gender bias, explains how the entire industry is in some way culpable and how Hollywood can change for the better going forward by increasing gender parity in jobs.
Then, comedy writer Janis Hirsch tells us about a dream job turning into a nightmare. Hirsch started out working on Square Pegs in 1982. Her sitcom credits include Murphy Brown, Frasier and Will & Grace, and she continues to have a very busy career -- she's currently working on a pilot for CBS.
Following the Harvey Weinstein revelations, Hirsch wrote about getting hired to work for one of her comedy heroes, Garry Shandling, early in her career. She tells us how the harassment in the writer's room began and then escalated to a horrifying, traumatic incident. When the show's producer finally acknowledged there was a problem, Hirsch was shocked to learn his solution was for her to quit immediately.
Hirsch shares why she told that story to everyone for years, and how owning the experience and making it funny has helped women writers who have followed in her footsteps.