Top Showrunners Talk Sexual Harassment: Donald Trump "Doesn't Help" Situation

"We have a president who came out as being in this group, and he was still elected," said 'Black-ish' creator Kenya Barris.
Kenya Barris

It doesn't seem that there's a room in Hollywood that hasn't been touched by the shadow of Harvey Weinstein's fall and the tsunami of testimonials about industry sexual harassment, assault and intimidation that have followed. So, when a murderers' row of showrunners gathered Tuesday afternoon, it was naturally the elephant in the room.

"The industry we work in is very visible," said Master of None's Alan Yang, one of five writer-producers speaking at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon at the Beverly Hilton. "This is a huge story, in part, because it's Gywneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne. But this is happening in everywhere — in oil, in the government. I guarantee you right now there's a dickhead in Office Depot harassing everybody."

Most of the panel, which was moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose and also included Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, This Is Us' Dan Fogelman, The Handmaid's Tale adapter Bruce Miller and HBO breakout Issa Rae, said that the story has been a hot topic in their writers rooms.

"We're a female-heavy writers room," said Rae, who just returned to work on season three of Insecure. "Every single woman has a story. And, as women, we're so used to sweeping things under the rug. We're used to feeling like we're overreacting. So we're asking, 'Why is the onus always on us to speak out about it or feel like we have to make a statement?'"

The fact that the group was overwhelmingly male was not lost on them. And, because of that, a few admitted having some naivety about the scope of the problem. None seemed confident enough to say that this could signal a sea change — but Yang at least offered up his take on how to move forward.

"Let's be allies to people who are speaking out," he said. "Let's believe the accusers. Let's have more women in power. That's one of the ways we can start changing ... I wouldn't be so pollyanna-ish to say it's going to end now, but at least we're exposing the beginning of it."

Barris, who admitted he regrets not doing more to be part of the conversation before all of the news broke, also noted that the issue is worsened by the current political climate.

"It doesn't help that we have a president who came out as being in this group, and he was still elected," he said, referencing Donald Trump's infamous Access Hollywood "Grab them by the pussy" tape. "The idea of being a guy has to change. That's not being a guy."