Support agents across Hollywood gather behind the All rise Employees after toxic allegations in the workplace.
All rise is a CBS show about a black female judge in Los Angeles that features attorneys, bailiffs, plaintiffs, defendants, and anyone else involved in the legal process. But behind the scenes, stories weave a picture of a toxic work environment in which the showrunner ruled with an iron fist.
A new article from salon describes the transgressions of the show runner Greg Spottiswood. It tells the story of a writing stick that responded to Hollywood’s longing to amplify marginalized voices, but also shows what it is like when the person in power ignores these people and does what they want.
While the network and the show have since split from Spottiswood, the stories of his tenure on the show are worrying, particularly an anecdote about a note-taking call allegedly calling two black coworkers “monkeys” and then backing that statement with ” I did not mean that.”
Additionally, the article shows clutter and disorganization behind the scenes.
In a statement, Spottiswood denied the allegations, saying: “I created All rise with the intention of augmenting the power of a black female lead along with a diverse cast to give viewers a new perspective on a variety of important issues our criminal justice system is currently facing. It was important for me to work with a diverse group of talented writers and artisans to ensure this All rise It was an inclusive and representative environment that reflected the city in which it was located. I realize that I haven’t been as successful as I hoped and that my communication style was sometimes counterproductive during the creative process. “
But dozens of people came forward, spoke to Salon, and refuted those words.
We tend to think of problematic Hollywood personalities as screamers and molesters, people like Scott Rudin and Harvey Weinstein, but Spottiswood doesn’t have that on his file. It just sounds like microaggression, harmful words, and bad management.
In this article, we learn that the production prepares episodes using outlines rather than scripts, and that things often get mixed up with last-minute Spottiswood throwing out people’s ideas and demanding changes to the story without listening to other writers’ input .
“Greg made the decision to write a television show about people with color and rented a room full of people with color who could elevate and add perspective to the story he wanted to tell, even though it was not his lived experience,” said Conway Preston in the play. Preston is a white writer who worked on the first season of All rise. He continued, “And instead, all too often, he denied her contribution and made her life miserable every step of the way.”
Many of the problems arose because the showrunner refused to listen to his staff. He’s a white Canadian and they have a wider range of experiences with them. As a person salon said, “It was all so insidious that I think it’s difficult to convey the gravity of it to people and how bad it made us all feel.” The anonymous agent continued, “It was a lot of backhand and very polite Canadian humiliation.”
That backhand ranges from asking cops to routinely stop black men without evidence to deleting entire segments of dialogue from black characters because Spottiswood didn’t believe their reactions to certain events felt “real”.
There was also tension between staff writers and Spottiswood.
“I felt that he created an unhealthy environment for women in which women writers were treated like second-class citizens,” said a writer on staff.
And Preston said: “[Spottiswood] would create problematic storylines for our female characters – who make up five of our seven main characters – and if the writers had problems with that, he would get very defensive. He would insist it wasn’t a problem. “
When all of this came to a head, CBS and Warner Bros. TV replaced Spottiswood as showrunners, but the damage had already been done. Season one writers had jumped the ship, lost key support staff, and there was no way the past could be changed.
As the show tries to move forward, it has to overcome the past, despite having an almost entirely fresh staff.
The other big problem is that nobody seems to have learned anything from this company. Spottiswood was able to do what was right for visuals, but behind the scenes was a problematic and toxic space that in some cases was costing people mental health and work. Even with complaints, people feared retaliation for reaching out to HR, and it took the network and manufacturing company a long time to act directly.
As Hollywood works out its toxicity problem, it also needs to address where people can be held accountable.
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