Top TV Execs Discuss #MeToo: "We Should Just Stop Talking About Harvey"

Todd Heisler/The New York Times/Redux
Harvey Weinstein

Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch and A&E Networks International head Sean Cohan told the Banff World Media Festival an industry conversation had to move beyond disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch says Hollywood should have a wider conversation about diversity, equal pay and the #MeToo campaign, rather than fixate on disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and his unfolding rape and abuse criminal case.

"We should just stop talking about Harvey," Hirsch told a media leaders panel at the Banff World Media Festival, which kicked off Sunday.

"There's a bigger movement that's underneath that. No one talks about Catt Sadler quitting her job at E! for getting paid half of what others are getting paid. We all come back to Harvey," he added. Hirsch urged the industry to "do like the hipsters and ghost" Weinstein and "do what's right in terms of diversity, in terms of human beings in your organization and in terms of your shows, and how you pay people — and not the fact that he [Weinstein] got arraigned in New York."

Sean Cohan, president of international and digital media at A+E Networks, cited Disney's box-office triumph with Black Panther to argue that inclusion, while helping to battle Hollywood's gender and diversity gap, also makes financial sense. "We're starting to get closer to figuring out that inclusion is really good business," he said.

"It's just a realization that different creative is better, from different places, whether from women or people of color, and ultimately that will entertain people more and get better sales and get a more profitable result," he added.

TruTV president Chris Linn, addressing the topic of the Time's Up and #MeToo campaigns, said the industry can't "legislate its way to better behavior." He instead urged companies and individual workers and management at all levels to strive to do better for one another.

"It has to come from a more personal place. It starts with communications, with setting up forums and listening to what's working and what's not working, who's doing right and who's not doing right, and holding people accountable to take action," Linn told Banff delegates.

The exec added that men in the entertainment industry could no longer plead ignorance, or that the prevailing culture enabled bad behavior. "The rules changed for men. The culture supported all sorts of bad behavior because that's how it was done. But now everyone knows better. It will only change if we hold everyone accountable at every single level," Linn said.

The Banff World Media Festival continues through Wednesday.