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Showtime’s lawyers apparently didn’t get the memo that this would be a good time to treat sexual harassment claims with extra sensitivity. Check out the arguments being presented in a lawsuit from Ashlynn Alexander, an actress who was hired as Ruth Wilson’s body double on the The Affair.
Alexander claims she was fired after complaining of sexual harassment by an assistant director on set. Specifically, Alexander says she was humiliated when a call sheet described her as “Alison Sexytime Double.” Seeing herself reduced to a sexual object, Alexander voiced objection. A few days later, she received notice that she was no longer needed for The Affair for the alleged reason that she was not a good hair match with Wilson. Alexander, who says she wore a wig for her role, is now suing for retaliation and discrimination.
On Monday, Showtime and Possible Productions brought a motion to either compel arbitration or dismiss the complaint outright.
The defendants see the objectionable description as completely appropriate.
“To the extent the Call Sheet refers to ‘Alison sexy time’ at all, that reference appears in the ‘Instructions’ portion of the Call Sheet, which contains detailed instructions on props, sound, set dress, location, hair, and makeup, the purpose of which is to ensure that the set and actors are made up appropriately for the scene about to be filmed,” states the defendants’ court brief. “It would make no sense, for instance, for an actor portraying a dying soldier on the beaches of Dunkirk to be dressed up for a fashion show, freshly showered, clean shaven and coiffed.”
Showtime then adds that Alexander “can therefore scarcely complain that the hair and makeup instructions in question provided that the Alison character be made up for ‘sexy time’ when the scene in question involved intimate close-up shots of Alison engaged in simulated sexual intercourse, particularly when that was precisely the scene for which Plaintiff was hired.”
The defendant also includes as an exhibit the “Nudity and Simulated Sex Rider” that Alexander allegedly executed when agreeing to the role as body double.
Later in the court brief, Showtime argues to the judge that Alexander hasn’t adequately pled the elements of a discrimination claim.
The cable network’s attorneys at Willkie Farr & Gallagher write, “Leaving aside the utter implausibility of Plaintiff’s contention that she was ‘humiliated’ by the reference to ‘Alison sexy time’ in the instructions portion of the Call Sheet, the Complaint does not allege any facts from which the Court can infer that the phrase ‘sexy time’ was included in the Call Sheet because Plaintiff is a woman.” (Italics are used in the court brief.)
Showtime says the dispute deserves to be arbitrated because Alexander’s daily hire contract contains a broad arbitration provision, but if the judge doesn’t accept that, the defendants are additionally arguing that Alexander’s complaint to her superior wasn’t sufficient to put producers on notice that she was engaging in a protected activity. It’s added that Showtime and Possible Productions owed her no additional employment once the filming of a sex scene concluded.
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