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From coffee shops to boardrooms, talk in Hollywood is on change after #MeToo



The changes happening in Hollywood won’t be obvious on the Academy Awards red carpet on Sunday, with sexual harassment and assault scandals looming over Hollywood.

But behind the scenes — in coffee shops and in boardrooms — the #MeToo movement is showing signs of spurring real change just five months after the first public allegations emerged against Harvey Weinstein, once one of the industry’s most powerful producers.

“Studios have put out the APB, ‘Let’s find women directors and line producers,’” Frank Smith, president of the movie production company Walden Media, said. “They want to work with top quality women and people of color. The message is: We heard you loud and clear.”

Despite the near-weekly emergence of new allegations against powerful men in entertainment, Hollywood could yet set an example for how to deal with systemic sexism.

Film and TV studios, networks, streaming services, talent agencies and public relations firms — many of which looked the other way while men created toxic work environments — are trying to make a lasting difference.

Michelle Kydd Lee, chief innovation officer for Creative Artists Agency (CAA), said its talent representatives have been on a roadshow with their business partners, sharing data about the movie- and TV-watching public and arguing that it’s in the studios’ own business interests to change the makeup of productions by including women and minorities in front of and behind the scenes.

“CAA has been going to the studios to present findings and saying, ‘So here’s why it makes business sense,’” Lee said. “We’re not coming to them saying it’s a nice thing to do.”

Influential organizations across the board have been updating their rules with the idea of encouraging members to stop bad behavior when they see it. The Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have all instituted new codes of conduct.

And companies are frequently putting women in jobs after men have been pushed out. Amazon Studios replaced Roy Price as president with NBC Entertainment’s president, Jennifer Salke. Price quit after making inappropriate comments to women.

Image: Harvey Weinstein statue in Los Angeles

A dog named ‘Sassi’ sits next to a golden statue of a bathrobe-clad Harvey Weinstein on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles on Thursday. The piece was meant to shine a light on the entertainment industry’s sexual misconduct crisis and the disgraced movie mogul’s prominent role in it.