We’ve learned a lot about what went on behind the scenes of Showtime’s The Affair, and though there’s still many mysteries afloat, one thing we know for sure is … that show was a mess. For those who have not yet read The Hollywood Reporter’s somewhat thorough account of the insider drama, here’s some nutshell bullet points to catch you up:
Despite having agreed to on-set nudity, Ruth Wilson felt its use in certain scenes was gratuitous, and she made her discomfort known. She also took issue with her male co-stars’ comparative lack of nudity.
Ruth Wilson felt Showrunner Sarah Treem applied undue pressure for her to appear naked, using a tone-deaf approach akin to men from the 1950s telling her she “looked beautiful” in an effort for her to disrobe.
Monitors were left on, which showed the sex scenes to someone not involved in production. (Note: this complaint was also raised against the female Showrunner of Showtime’s Smilf, Frankie Shaw).
Wilson objected to the content of certain scenes, including one that felt “rapey.” That scene was ultimately performed by a body double who later sued for alleged mistreatment.
Last and perhaps most important, executive producer Jeffrey Reiner is alleged to have told Girls creator Lena Dunham and executive producer Jenni Konner something disturbing about Wilson, in addition to showing a graphic photo of another actress that was taken on set.
Sarah Treem’s defense of the last and perhaps most disturbing item is so anger-inducing she released a follow-up defense to Deadline, stating that “not much of [her] perspective made it into the story, nor the perspectives of many of the half dozen senior level producers, director and other key crew members who spoke up.” So did her follow-up, first-person response serve to exonerate her character? In short, no.
The Deadline article is largely about the ins-and-outs of Treem’s complicated relationship with Ruth Wilson, who by Treem’s account “had been disagreeing on the character’s choices since the second episode.” Treem furthers that she “tried to protect [Wilson] and shoot sex scenes safely and respectfully.” She altered scenes entirely, even it removed their original intent.
While it might be true that Treem had pure intentions and did the best she could to illicit comfort, she obviously failed in doing so, and it’s not my job to assign fault. All I can say is, if Ruth Wilson did not feel comfortable, then I respect that something on set was perhaps not up to snuff, instead of pointing fingers and implying she’s difficult. She’s a brilliant actress, so she’s obviously doing something right. Treem’s essay is more about defending Treem’s creative integrity than her moral integrity.
The Deadline piece doubles down on Treem’s statements to The Hollywood Reporter about her handling of the immensely disturbing Reiner incident. Treem stated that she “asked Showtime if we could shut down production for weeks” and “asked for sensitivity training.” She wanted “Reiner to address the cast and crew.” Instead, she “was told that Showtime had to be the one to handle it.”
If we take Treem’s words at face value, it’s still not good enough. Reiner’s behavior should be subject to a zero tolerance policy. Sensitivity training?! Treem should have asked for his removal. How much sensitivity training does an adult male need to know he shouldn’t show compromising pictures of another actress from a sex scene on a closed set? Her defense sounds painfully similar to the don’t-blame-me-blame-the-network defense from The Chi’s Lena Waithe (another Showtime series).
It should be noted that being a Showrunner is an EXTREMELY difficult job. Treem has admitted to its challenges in a very powerful, revealing essay for Red Online about “having it all.” When that article is cross-referenced with the issues on The Affair, it is not surprising that she was perhaps unable to get ahead of the on-set issues and react appropriately. Had she shown an inch of that vulnerability in her Deadline article, I’d be way more forgiving. She said that the Reiner incident overlapped with having had a new baby, and the Red Online article indicates that this was a trying time in her personal life, and she should have asked for more help. But there’s no “I wish I would have done things differently” in the Deadline piece. Instead, she points fingers, avoids responsibility, and implied Wilson was the issue.
The greatest trick the devil ever played was pitting women against one another to benefit men. The second greatest trick the devil ever played is demanding women unite to go against men, and punishing them when they don’t. When Julianne Hough was asked about Gabrielle Union’s controversial firing from America’s Got Talent, she said a whole lot of NOTHING, and even threw in the laughable non-word “integrily.”
It’s not surprising that Howard Stern took aim at Simon Cowell — the man did come for his AGT job after all. And nothing provides greater entertainment than Stern on a tear. In response to Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough’s firing from America’s Got Talent, Stern rightfully proclaimed:
“He sets it up that the men stay. No matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are. What he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks. Howie’s [Mandel] doing a fine, serviceable job — why don’t they change him? And why don’t they change Simon? … This is the ultimate example of a boys’ club.”
I’ve certainly noticed the revolving door of hot chicks on all the Simon Cowell-produced shows, especially when it’s set up against the long-term reign of his male judges. In short, it’s a gross double standard. Furthermore, if there was any level of diversity in upper management at all, the tone-deaf comments Union alleges were made about her appearance likely would not happen (and let’s not forget what happened to Nick Cannon). Louis Walsh stayed on his X Factor panel long after he groped Mel B. and according to Stern — Mel B. was later fired from AGT while Walsh kept his job.
It is also of note that Stern defended his longtime nemesis Jay Leno over a joke Leno made, which is also the subject of a bitter brawl between NBC and Gabrielle Union. Union allegedly complained to the higher-ups about Leno joking that a painting of Simon Cowell with his dogs looked like it belonged “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.” As Stern rightfully points out, “one million dogs are still eaten annually in South Korea, and if Gabrielle Union wants to effect positive change, maybe focus on the horrors of Korean dog farms and let the old irrelevant comic live in peace.”
Stern fans know that the Leno/Stern beef dates back to Leno “stealing” Stuttering John out from under Stern, in addition to some accusations of joke thievery, including a chicken. Stern recently proclaimed that one particular comedian would not accept his personal apology for his savage attacks, and I’m guessing the comedian in question is Leno.
In response to the allegations that Gabrielle Union’s firing from America’s Got Talent was a retaliatory strike following her complaints about inappropriate, racist jokes, ill-directed critiques about her hair, and general, behind-the-scenes culture issues, Simon Cowell’s company, Syco Entertainment said, “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture.” They furthered that they “are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
I appreciate Jada Pinkett Smith’s efforts to turn T.I.’s horrific “protection” of his daughter’s hymen into a “teachable moment,” but not even Jada can jam sense into T.I’s tiny brain. While visiting Red Table Talk to clear up his controversial comments about accompanying his daughter to the gynecologist to ensure her virginity is intact, he instead doubled down. The most shocking revelation is his insistence that when a woman loses her virginity, she immediately becomes and adult, and with that, comes adult responsibilities. This sounded more like a threat than an education, as if living in T.I.’s house as a non-virgin means more chores, and demanding job, and a clearly defined life plan. When T.I. asked the “purpose of a father,” it was more of a statement than a question, insisting his desire to be “involved” is cloaked with love, and if he doesn’t have a say in his daughter’s choices, he’s then just a man who “donates sperm and pays for things.”
The American Music Awards aired last night, and with the exception of some standout performances, not everyone was at their best. Below is a recap for your reviewing enjoyment.
Halsey first grabbed my attention during her performance at Rihanna’s Fenty fashion show (yes, I’m late to the Halsey party). She’s hypnotic, and her AMA performance is no exception.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes
I’m over these two. Sure they have chemistry, but it’s so played up it’s now played out. Also, their chemistry is literally the only element of the performance. The non-kiss tension worked for me at the VMAs, but now it’s just unoriginal.
Shania Twain’s over-the-top fashion choices are almost as iconic as her greatest hits, and it was nice to see her return to form in this crazy pink ensemble. The entire performance felt like a concert-worthy moment rather than a pocket of a larger show. Does anything make you “feel like a woman” more than neon pink? Twain has been honest about her Lyme Disease has impacted her vocals, and she took a layover from the limelight as a result. It’s nice to see her return to the stage.
Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. I like her music, I like the presentation, and I love that she refused to go the standard sexy route. Weird is always welcome in my world. Plus, this power duo pens their own tunes, and that goes a long way in my book.
Green Day makes the list of bands I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen live. I’m most embarrassed because by all accounts their performances are unprecedented. I’m told Billy Joe’s appreciation for his audience shows through from start to finish, which means it always surprises me when they take the stage at an awards show rife with some of a more apathetic crowd. One of the most legendary bands in history is on the stage in front of you, and you’re on your iPhone scrolling (see video below). If only he smashed his guitar and complained about the same way he did on that infamous Bieber moment.
Yes, I love Lizzo, but I almost fell asleep during her performance. She’s not a ballad singer, and this felt like something Adele would do (minus the “passionate” kneeling). The dress is also way off-brand.
Dua Lipa transported me to the 80s with a leotard-driven version of musical chairs amid balloons (white-girl shimmy included). After her fresh, intoxicating performance at the Grammys, this was hugely disappointing. Whose the stylist that got in her ear, told her to dye her hair blond and add extensions? This felt incredibly dated.
I don’t want to kick Selena while she’s down, especially since she had a panic attack immediately prior to her performance. That being said, her range is limited, and it shows. The original video for “Lose You to Love Me” is heavily auto-tuned, and the issue with that is — when you actually sing live — you’re exposed. The second song is better (it’s presumably lip-synced), but she looks so uncomfortable in her risque outfit, it’s hard to watch. She should take a page out of Billie Eilish’s handbook and start dressing in a way that brings out her best self.
As someone who used to cover multiple concerts a week (on school nights), I’m in a unique position to articulate the rage associated with a late start time. At the end of the day, I’m a paying consumer, and that comes with the expectation that I’m getting what I’ve paid for. Apparently, Madonna does not agree. When addressing her notorious late arrivals, she told her audience, “Here’s something you all need to understand. And that is, that the queen is never late.”
While Madonna is indeed a queen, I find her attitude to be especially ironic given her infamous quest for excellence when working with other artists. She demands exhaustive rehearsals, and she won’t take no for an answer. If you’re going to demand that level of professionalism, then practice what you preach. I don’t care how good your show is, if I’m paying for it to start at a certain time, then I expect you to be there at that time.
Madonna is currently being sued by Florida-resident Nate Hollander, who claims to have lost the $1,024.95 on three tickets for Madonna’s Miami Beach show because the start time was changed from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m in an effort to manage her late arrival and inform attendees. That’s too late for Mr. Hollander, and he was unable to re-sell the tickets at its new time. Though his lawsuit is likely going to get thrown out, it certainly has generated press enough press to prove the worth of its filing.
I onced joked to Mark Cuban that the chairs on Shark Tank should be rearranged according to the most successful investors/sharks, and he replied, “Then the women would be sitting dead center.” The clip below brought me back to that moment, as Lori Grenier suggested (in one of the first moments in the history of the show) that the contestant was a “chauvanist.” Though the men didn’t seem to bite on her observation, I think she’s onto something. Furthermore, the contestant’s reaction is telling, as it’s more condescending than contrite.
It’s not easy to be the lone female on a panel of dudes, especially when making an assertion based on nuance only another woman might understand. In fact, any woman whose been to a car dealership (let alone a board meeting) beside a man would know what she’s saying 3.5 seconds into the clip below. Watch and judge for yourself.