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In the wake of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged years-long sexual harassment and assault, a producer of one of Amazon Studios’ highest-profile TV shows is ready to talk about her “shocking and surreal” experience with Amazon’s programming chief Roy Price.
Isa Hackett is the daughter of author Philip K. Dick, whose work is the basis for Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, as well as the upcoming anthology series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. Hackett, 50, is an executive producer on both series. Price, 51, is head of Amazon Studios and has presided over its growth into a major streaming service with such series as Transparent and movies such as Manchester by the Sea. His family has deep connections in the entertainment world: His father, Frank, ran Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios. (The existence of the alleged incident detailed below and the subsequent Amazon investigation were previously reported by the website The Information.)
On the evening of July 10, 2015, after a long day of promoting Man in the High Castle at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hackett attended a dinner with the show’s cast and Amazon staff at the U.S. Grant Hotel. There she says she met Price for the first time. He asked her to attend an Amazon staff party later that night at the W Hotel (now the Renaissance) and she ended up in a taxi with Price and Michael Paull, then another top Amazon executive and now CEO of the digital media company BAMTech.
Once in the cab, Hackett says Price repeatedly and insistently propositioned her. “You will love my dick,” he said, according to Hackett, who relayed her account to multiple individuals in the hours after the alleged episode. (The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed Hackett told at least two people about the alleged incident in the immediate aftermath.) Hackett says she made clear to Price she was not interested and told him that she is a lesbian with a wife and children.
Hackett says Price did not relent in the cab or once they arrived at the Amazon party. As she talked with other executives, she says that Price stepped close to her and loudly said, “Anal sex!” in her ear.
Hackett says she reported the incident to Amazon executives immediately. An outside investigator, Christine Farrell of Public Interest Investigations Inc., was brought in and spoke to Hackett and executives at Amazon. Hackett says she was never told the outcome of that inquiry, but notes that she hasn’t seen Price at any events involving her shows.
“We take seriously any questions about the conduct of our employees,” an Amazon spokesperson tells THR in a statement. “We expect people to set high standards for themselves; we encourage people to raise any concerns and we make it a priority to investigate and address them. Accordingly, we looked closely at this specific concern and addressed it directly with those involved.”
Price, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. Hours after the initial publication of this story, Amazon suspended the exec, saying, “Roy Price is on leave of absence effective immediately.”
Hackett previously was reluctant to talk publicly about the incident. While her story is not on the same level as the claims of rape leveled at Weinstein, she nonetheless has decided to detail the encounter after hearing the recent stories of other women in Hollywood. She agreed to an interview on Wednesday.
Why are you ready to come forward now?
Having power and influence is such a huge responsibility. As somebody with some power, I feel it is imperative for me to speak out. I want to call out [Price’s] behavior and also hold myself to a certain standard. It’s difficult because of the fact that I have two shows and I love those shows and I value my experience at Amazon. But this incident has been looming and it’s difficult to shake it. I didn’t want the details to come out previously because I didn’t want to distract or deflate the energies of all the people who are so invested in these shows, and all of that positivity. You don’t want to bring this into it. It feels demoralizing.
What were you feeling the evening of this alleged incident?
It was shocking and surreal.
What has it been like in the aftermath?
I haven’t seen Roy. I’ve not been around him. I don’t feel afraid of him, but it’s difficult after you report something because you’re carrying this anxiety about how to interact with somebody if and when you do see them. You’re aware that other people may or may not know about it. It’s in the back of your mind. It’s a dark experience that’s sitting there. Obviously, I opted to take another show to Amazon because I love the team there. The experience, with the exception of this matter, has been entirely positive and I value the relationships.
Did the Harvey Weinstein scandal also inspire you to go public?
Yes, it has. I think women inspire each other. I feel inspired by the other women who have been far braver than I am, who have come forward. I hope we all continue to inspire each other and ultimately create change.
What can change the culture in Hollywood?
It is said over and over and sounds like a cliché, but we desperately need more women in leadership positions in Hollywood. There’s a culture of harassment [in Hollywood] and we need an infusion of new and diverse leadership, not just including women but gay people, people of color, people with disabilities — people with the full spectrum of life experience.
Oct. 12, 5:20 pm Updated with Amazon’s statement of Roy Price’s suspension.
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