We continue to live in a post-Harvey Weinstein world, and this time the allegations are hitting the Warner Bros. and DC television department. Both of these haven’t exactly had the best week, with Brett Ratner and Eddie Berganza, and now it’s time to add a third. DCTV producer Andrew Kreisberg has been suspending pending an investigation of sexual misconduct, according to Variety. This time we have a total of 19 complaints from men and women, and it’s not pretty.
“We have recently been made aware of allegations of misconduct against Andrew Kreisberg,” said Warner Bros. TV Group in a statement to Variety. “We have suspended Mr. Kreisberg and are conducting an internal investigation. We take all allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and are committed to creating a safe working environment for our employees and everyone involved in our productions.”
It seems to be a song and dance we’ve seen a lot of recently, and the thing about this case that sets it apart from the other two major cases in the last week or so is how many people have filed complaints. Kreisberg is involved as an executive producer with all four DCTV shows: Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl.
“We were recently made aware of some deeply troubling allegations regarding one of our showrunners,” said Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, who head Berlanti Productions which oversee Kreisberg’s shows. “We have been encouraging and fully cooperating with the investigation into this by Warner Bros. There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our cast, crew, writers, producers and any staff. We do not tolerate harassment and are committed to doing everything we can to make an environment that’s safe to work in and safe to speak up about if it isn’t.”
Kreisberg, for his part, has denied all of the allegations that were made against him by 15 women and four men, some of whom were allegedly so uncomfortable by his behavior that they quit. He admits that he’s “made some comments” about the clothing women wear, but it “wasn’t sexualized”.
Kreisberg told Variety, “I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized. Like many people, I have given someone a non-sexual hug or kiss on the cheek.” He denies that any inappropriate touching or massages occurred. … “I have proudly mentored both male and female colleagues for many years. But never in what I believe to be an unwanted way and certainly never in a sexual way,” he said.
The allegations made against Kreisberg made by former and current staff, who would not allow their names to run out fear of repercussions, paints a work environment of a man who, allegedly, believed he could do whatever he wanted to whomever he wanted.
“Going to HR never crossed my mind, because it seems like nothing’s been enforced,” one woman says. … “The workplace feels unsafe,” one woman says, a sentiment echoed by others. Said another, “He scares people.” … Last year, a high-level female producer who works with Kreisberg brought her concerns about his inappropriate behavior and his harassment of employees to a senior executive at Berlanti Productions, the company owned by mega-producer Greg Berlanti, who oversees all of the series Kreisberg works on. “There was zero response,” this woman says. “Nothing happened. Nothing changed.”
It seemed to only get worse once Kreisberg became a producer on four different shows.
“The power went to his head,” says a male writer. “It became clear to me that it would be very dangerous, career-wise, for me to confront him about his behavior.”
A male writer describes being called into the office by Kreisberg and being told that a woman was coming in for an audition. Then Kreisberg showed this writer footage of the woman topless.
“My mind went blank. I don’t know what I said,” says the writer, who notes that Kreisberg was grinning. “But my internal reaction was, ‘Why would you show me this — it’s wildly inappropriate!’ I could not get out of there fast enough.”
Kreisberg says that “in doing research on the internet about a prospective actress, we found that she had a role in a premium cable network show. It was not a X-rated show. We clicked on the video and she was topless.”
It didn’t seem to matter if there was more than once person around, or even if those people were of age when it came to these inappropriate comments.
A woman reports that when a female co-worker walked into his presence, he said, “Wow, you look so tired that I don’t even want to have sex with you anymore.” The woman’s children were present and heard the remark. Kreisberg denies having said this.
While a majority of the allegations were made by women, and the men Variety spoke to agreed that women in the office had it far worse, the harassment and misconduct was not limited to one gender.
A young male “Arrow”-verse staffer recalls that he one day stopped by to see a female colleague, and leaned down on her desk as he talked to her. Without the man’s knowledge, Kreisberg came in, placed his hands on the man’s posterior and began pretending to have sex with him, saying something like, “Well, if you’re offering.” Kreisberg denies that this occurred.
“He laughed, and we all laughed, but I felt very uncomfortable,” this employee says. “I have never had anyone put their hands on me like that in a work situation. He did it because he feels like he can do whatever he wants.”
It’s yet another example of the power dynamic that has been brought up far too many times in the last day or so. When it’s you versus a person with power, your ability to choose becomes blurred. You might have the ability to say “no” or “stop”, but at the end of the day, you could be the one getting reprimanded — like what happened when Ellen Page stood up to Brett Ratner.
Another woman says that she was asked, in the presence of one other woman, to lie on Kreisberg’s office floor while he assumed a push-up stance over her. Then he asked her to pretend to choke him.
“It was for research, he said,” according to this employee. “I didn’t feel like I had any right to say, ‘This is weird.’” This woman recounts that he mimed having sex with a copy machine once when she and another woman were in the room. She quit over his behavior and the atmosphere it created.
“It is not uncommon in writer’s rooms that we act out what we want production to film,” Kreisberg says. “There was never any sexual intent or overtones.”
It seems that Kreisberg isn’t even denying everything, instead downplaying the impact of his actions — as if this is yet again another thing women, and men, have to deal with if they’re going to be in the industry.
What followed was the normal reaction people have when there is an alleged serial abuser in their workplace: they tried to hide and keep their heads down.
Several sources talked about dressing as plainly as they could; one woman says that she even stopped wearing V-neck shirts. “You would have to watch what you said, what you wore, to try to stop being subjected to sexual innuendo,” says one woman.
This is how so many people expect women (and some men) to deal with harassment, whether it is online, at work, or while walking down the street. They’re told to ignore it, smile and walk away. Don’t feed the trolls. As if we’re supposed to stand there and just let these things happen.
“As an assistant in this industry, there’s nowhere for me to go,” recalls one woman who ended up quitting. “So I just took it.”
People shouldn’t have “take it” while at work, whether they’re in Hollywood or flipping burgers at McDonald’s. You are at work and you should act like a professional. If nothing else, we need to remember that we’re all people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity — no matter where we work, which sexual orientation we identity with, which color our skin is, which religion we practice, or which gender we identify with. We’re all people, and this needs to stop.