Sexual assault has been a major talking point on this year’s awards show circuit. And, surprise! The conversations surrounding the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements will continue on at the Academy Awards.
The golden child of E! has been accused of sexual assault by his former stylist, Suzie Hardy, who has claimed that he groped her genitals, slapped her backside with such force that she was left with a welt and forced his crotch towards her head when she bent down to tie his shoes. Seacrest vehemently denies the claims and released a long statement on Tuesday in which he maintains his innocence.
“Those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accuser and countless others. Ultimately, my name was cleared,” he said in the statement.
So the show will go on for the co-host of Live with Kelly and Ryan and mastermind behind cash cow Keeping Up With the Kardashians, as Seacrest will be wielding a microphone on the Oscars red carpet.
But who will want to chat with the accused host, answering vapid questions about their chosen frock for the TV cameras? That’s a hard question to answer.
Even Jennifer Lawrence, an Academy Award-winning actress known for being blunt, wouldn’t give a solid yes or no answer. She actually found out about the claims against Seacrest during an interview on The Howard Stern Show and wasn’t sure what actions she would take on the red carpet.
“Umm, I don’t know,” she told Stern. “I mean, there is a lot to think about with E!, you know? I have always had a problem with the Fashion Police. I don’t have a problem with talking about what women are wearing. There was a time they were… they were just mean about people’s bodies, things you shouldn’t say.”
A handful of anonymous publicists confirmed to PageSix that they would “steer many of their stars away from Seacrest on the Oscar red carpet.” So it remains to be seen if anyone will stop and chat with Seacrest on Sunday eve.
E! is also reeling from the public backlash regarding their treatment of Catt Sadler. The former host departed the network after learning that Jason Kennedy, her male colleague, was receiving a significantly higher salary than she was. Famously, on the Golden Globes red carpet, Debra Messing confronted E! host Giuliana Rancic about the network’s issue with pay disparity.
“I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts. I miss Catt Sadler. So we stand with her,” Messing said.
Considering the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements manifested on the Golden Globes red carpet in the form of an almost all-black dress code (just like the recent BAFTA Awards) and was symbolized with white roses at the Grammys, what stance will stars take with their style on Sunday?
Not much, it seems. At this point, there has been no organized plan for Hollywood actresses to band together with their sartorial choices—and that’s entirely strategic.
“We are not an awards show protest group. So we stand down this time,” A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay said during a March 1 meeting in Hollywood to discuss Time’s Up. She was joined by fellow Time’s Up members, including Laura Dern, Tessa Thompson and Shonda Rhimes, to discuss the movement’s accomplishments with the media at the offices of PR firm Sunshine Sachs, per The Los Angeles Times.
Rhimes explained: “It’s really important that you know that Time’s Up is not about the red carpet. And those women you saw on the red carpet representing Time’s Up [at the Globes] are now off the red carpet working their butts off being activists.”
The women did confirm that there will be a segment of the televised award show dedicated to the female-empowering cause, which was a joint effort between Time’s Up and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. However, the leading ladies didn’t elaborate any further on what that would be.
Separately, stylist Elizabeth Stewart told People that she thinks this carpet will be more about fashion moments than political stances. “It’s a great celebration of the year’s best fashion along with the best movies,” she told the publication. But, she did add: “I am doing everything I can to support the Time’s Up movement.” For this award show, that means affixing a Time’s Up pin to the designer frocks of her clients attending the show, including presenter Gal Gadot and Viola Davis, who took home an Oscar last year.