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E! has parted ways with The Royals creator Mark Schwahn.
After suspending Schwahn on Nov. 15, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network and The Royals producers Lionsgate Television and Universal Cable Productions have now opted to fire the showrunner following a wave of sexual harassment allegations from the cast of the series as well as his former drama One Tree Hill.
Production wrapped on the upcoming season of the Elizabeth Hurley royal drama in September. It’s unclear if a new showrunner will be named or if the fourth season of the series, premiering in March, will be its last.
The controversy surrounding Schwahn started when former One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope tweeted, without publicly naming him, that she and her writing partner were sexually harassed during their time working on the teen soap, including inappropriate touching and comments, and accused the showrunner of showing naked photos of an actress he was in a relationship with to crewmembers.
That prompted a statement signed by One Tree Hill stars including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz and the female castmembers backing Wauchope’s claims and alleging that Schwahn manipulated many of them “psychologically and emotionally.”
“More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress,” the cast and crew said in their joint statement. “Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be.”
Other One Tree Hill stars also came forward to support their former colleagues and speak out about the wave of sexual harassment in Hollywood in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
That paved the way for the stars of E!’s The Royals to address their experience with Schwahn. Co-star Alexandra Park, who plays Princess Eleanor, tweeted that she had also witnessed the showrunner’s “reprehensible behavior” and added her support for those who came forward. “I have a responsibility as someone who was working under Mark Schwahn on The Royals to acknowledge these claims,” she said. “I am devastated to admit to myself, to my colleagues and to this industry that I too, have been exposed to this reprehensible behavior.”
In a letter signed by 25 cast and crewmembers from The Royals, the women on the drama accused Schwahn of “repeated unwanted sexual harassment of multiple female members of cast and crew.”
Star Hurley said that she was “devastated” by reports about Schwahn and issued her own statement in which she noted that she had not experienced any questionable behavior from Schwahn. She went on to say that he “flirts and tells risqué jokes,” but she had never witnessed any harassment involving him. “I didn’t see it but will support anyone who is being treated unfairly and do anything I can to ensure any workplace is a safe one,” the actress wrote. “I may have failed Alexandra but it won’t happen again on my watch.”
In response to his firing, Bush took to Twitter to say, “43 women came forward. To the ones who did and to the ones who didn’t or couldn’t, I hope this news is a salve to your souls. To the other predators out there? I hope this is a lesson that sometimes, even if it takes time, justice is served. You’re next.”
The move to fire Schwahn is the latest fallout from the paradigm shift in Hollywood that has occurred in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. Among the more notable moves: Netflix is no longer in business with House of Cards star Kevin Spacey and is removing him from the show’s upcoming final season; producers Warner Bros. Television suspended The Flash and Supergirl showrunner Andrew Kreisberg; and Amazon is investigating Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor. All are in light of misconduct allegations levied against each of them.
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