Further details are emerging about Roy Price, the Amazon Studios executive who was last week suspended—before stepping down—following allegations of sexual harassment from a female producer (“You will love my dick,” he allegedly told Man in the High Castle executive producer Isa Hackett in 2015). A Hollywood Reporter feature by Kim Masters and Lesley Goldberg outlines some of his other problematic traits, including a tendency to steer work-related conversations towards participants’ sexual histories and a close relationship with Harvey Weinstein, with whom he often traded projects.
But according to the article, Price’s toxic masculinity went beyond his professional interactions: The programming chief channeled his sexist and antiquated ideas directly into his programmatic decision-making. Price reportedly failed to offer the female-led miniseries Big Little Lies a straight-to-series deal—as most streaming services did, seeing as how it was being produced by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman—and one of his hesitations was that the show might not feature enough female nudity.
According to the report:
Company insiders say at a staff holiday party at the Lucky Strike bowling alley in Hollywood, Price asked a group of staffers if the two stars would “show their tits” and mused aloud why he would greenlight the show if they didn’t. (In fact, Kidman did multiple nude scenes.)
The women-centric show was snatched up by HBO and went on to win eight awards at this year’s Emmys. (Best drama series was won by The Handmaid’s Tale, which Price also reportedly passed on.) Amazon only picked up two overall. It would almost be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
Price was also said to be responsible for the decision to cancel the distinctly feminist Good Girls Revolt, one that fans are still grieving and that, as Slate’s Eleanor Cummins points out, is all the more disheartening in light of revelations about his behavior. Amazon’s programming would appear to have taken on a male bias under his direction, with an $80 million deal given to Woody Allen’s disastrous first foray into television Crisis in Six Scenes, while despite winning several Emmys for Amazon, Transparent creators Jill Solloway was still required to put her next project, I Love Dick, through Amazon’s pilot process.
Having men like Price holding the entertainment purse strings seems to engender a vicious cycle. The white male-dominated entertainment industry continues to make white-male dominated shows and movies, making the entertainment industry a place that is more approachable to people who are, well, white and male. Our male-skewed cultural landscape continues to foster a toxic sense of male entitlement, meaning that more Prices and Weinsteins—and Trumps and Aileses and Cosbys—grow up thinking they can treat women however they like.
Not only is it sexist, it’s bad business. A Variety article today shows that female audiences drove the success of the biggest box office hits this summer, including Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, and Girls Trip.
Big Little Lies, with its Oscar-winning producers, easily found itself another, more appreciative home at HBO. What of all the other women’s stories that have been overlooked because of entertainment executives like Roy Price and a lack of tits? If the dominance of feminist, women-led shows at the 2017 Emmys is anything to go by, hopefully more will be coming soon.