Amazon Studio Boss Price Resigns After Harassment Scandal

Roy Price resigned as the head of Amazon.com Inc.’s movie and TV studio after a producer detailed her allegations of sexual harassment in a news report.

Amazon Studios Chief Operating Officer Albert Cheng, a former Walt Disney Co. executive, will oversee the operation while the company searches for Price’s replacement, according to a statement Tuesday. Price led the e-commerce giant’s push into TV and movie production, overseeing an estimated budget of $4.5 billion in 2017.

Isa Hackett, producer of “The Man in the High Castle,” accused Price of harassing her while they attended a convention in San Diego in 2015. While the allegation had been previously reported, she described the incident in detail to the Hollywood Reporter last week. She said she was inspired to tell her story by the many women who came forward with accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Price didn’t respond to a request for comment. The son of famed film producer Frank Price, he has worked at Seattle-based Amazon since 2004, according to his bio page at LinkedIn.com.

For more on sexual harassment in the tech industry, check out the podcast:

Amazon hasn’t explained why it acted against Price now when Hackett first filed a complain in 2015. The company investigated the allegation at the time and said it addressed the issue, according to an August report in The Information. Amazon suspended Price last week.

Emily Martin, vice president of workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, said secrecy around sexual harassment investigations is common and has benefits for accusers and employers of the accused who can share a desire to keep the details private.

Privately Settled

The downside is multiple cases can be privately settled, allowing serial harassment continue, she said.

It looks like the “suspension was more motivated about how Amazon public relations might suffer rather than how to best address the harassment,” Martin said. “It isn’t surprising if Amazon was motivated by public perception here.”

The allegations against movie mogul Weinstein, accused of harassing or assaulting more than a dozen women, have forced all of Hollywood to examine the culture of an industry long ruled by men. Weinstein stepped down from the board of the company he co-founded Tuesday, having already been fired. He has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

“This entire culture is complicit,” Krista Vernoff, producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” wrote in a column this week. “A culture which openly pays women markedly less than their male counterparts supports the notion that women are literally worth less. That thinking quite easily leads to the idea that women can be taken against their will in hotel rooms like playthings, like property.”

More Buzz

For all its success in video — Oscars for “Manchester By the Sea” and “The Salesman,” and critical praise for the TV shows “Transparent” and “Catastrophe” — Amazon has failed to produce a pop culture hit like Netflix Inc.’s “Stranger Things.” Amazon wants the division to deliver more big hits like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” that get people talking and set social media abuzz.

Video streaming is part of the company’s $99-a-year Amazon Prime subscription, also known for free two-day deliveries. Amazon tells investors the big investment in video pays off by enticing more people to join Prime, making them more loyal shoppers. Amazon last year also launched a stand-alone video streaming service.

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