Amazon Suspends Top Exec Roy Price in Wake of Harassment Claim

13Oct - by MarthaCobb

The news follows a harassment claim from one the retail giant/streamer’s top TV producers.

Roy Price, vp Amazon Studios and global head Prime Video content, has been suspended from the retail giant and streaming platform following a harassment claim from one the company's producers. 

“Roy Price is on leave absence effective immediately,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement Thursday (Oct. 12), adding: “We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co.” In Price's absence, chief operating ficer Albert Cheng will step in. Cheng joined Amazon in June 2015, coming from Disney/ABC. During his time at the latter, he led the company's efforts to bring programming to digital platforms.

The move to suspend Price comes mere hours after Isa Hackett, a producer on Amazon's Man in the High Castle and Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams detailed in an exclusive interview with THR her “shocking and surreal” experience with the programming chief in July 2015. “You will love my dick,” Price said, according to Hackett, who relayed her account to others. The producer says she reported the incident immediately to Amazon executives. An outside investigator, Public Interest Investigations Inc.'s Christine Farrell, was brought in to speak to Hackett as well as Amazon execs. Hackett says she was never told the outcome that inquiry, but notes that she hasn’t seen Price at any events involving her shows. (Price, through a spokesperson, declined comment.)

The news Price's suspension also comes as Amazon is reviewing the two pricey dramas — Matthew Weiner's The Romanfs and director David O. Russell's untitled drama — that the streamer has in the works from The Weinstein Co. in the wake rape and sexual harassment allegations against former co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Per sources, the company is on the hook for $40 million for the Russell drama and the Weiner show is already halfway through production. The streamer has not received any financing from TWC for either show.

Amazon's relations with Weinstein again became part the news narrative Thursday, when actress Rose McGowan fired f a string  tweets to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. The first: “@JeffBezos I told the head your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it. He said it hadn't been proven. I said I was the pro.” She went on to allege that a script she had in development with the company was later killed. The tweets received heavy attention in part because this was the first time that McGowan had identified her assailant by name.

As for Price, his tenure at Amazon dates back to 2004. During that time, he has overseen the launch its digital video store and, later, its streaming service. Amazon's foray into scripted series has yielded mixed results, with a string high-prile producers recently going public with their frustrations about working at Amazon. Among them: Goliath creator David E. Kelley, who described Price's entertainment division as “a bit a gong show” in a scathing Wall Street Journal piece about the company's latest struggles in Hollywood.

Though Amazon's Jill Soloway comedy Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor, became a critical favorite, and Man in the High Castle and Goliath are said to have been among the streamer's most-viewed originals, none its originals has broken out the way Stranger Things13 Reasons Why and Orange Is the New Black have for rival Netflix. And it was Hulu that became the first streamer to take home a best drama series Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale; Amazon walked away from the awards show empty-handed.

In an acknowledgement those challenges, the company is currently in the process a strategy pivot. Looking ahead, Amazon will turn its focus to more global event series a la Game Thrones. In preparation, the company has been busy axing a series pricey dramas already on its service, including The Last Tycoon and Z: The Beginning Everything, the latter which was killed after a surprise season two renewal.

This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter.

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