Catt Sadler’s headline-making exit from E! News on Dec. 19 — quitting after she learned that co-anchor Jason Kennedy was earning nearly twice her salary — isn’t the first time pay-equity issues have landed on an entertainment news anchor desk.
Mary Hart, who had a legendary 29-year run on Entertainment Tonight from 1982 to 2011, tells THR she had a similar experience early on in her career. “I had one male counterpart who really wanted to make sure I knew he made a lot more money than me,” says Hart, 67, who would only reveal that this situation occurred in the ‘70s or ‘80s. “But we didn’t work together for long.”
So what happened? “I lasted and he didn’t,” Hart explains, adding that what did linger was questions about how men and women were treated differently in the workplace. “Once he was gone, I felt like it was pretty even-steven after that. But there were lots and lots of conversations that you need to have. Nice, civil conversations. It’s still a huge issue across the board, and gender equality is something that we are finally addressing in a very honest, and kind of painful way.”
When Hart retired from ET, she reportedly was earning $5 million a year, which would have made her the highest-paid host in the entertainment news biz.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.