One Tree Hill showrun­ner ac­cused of ‘trau­ma­tiz­ing’ sex­ual har­rass­ment

Times Colonist - - Arts - BRYAN ALEXAN­DER

Sophia Bush, Hi­larie Bur­ton and the fe­male cast of One Tree Hill joined with the show’s crew to write a let­ter ac­cus­ing for­mer showrun­ner Mark Sch­wahn of “trau­ma­tiz­ing” sex­ual ha­rass­ment on the set of the pop­u­lar TV drama.

The let­ter was penned in sup­port of for­mer Tree Hill writer Au­drey Wau­chope, who de­tailed in a se­ries of tweets the treat­ment fe­male crew en­dured on the show, which aired on WB from 2003 to 2006, and on the CW from 2006 to 2012.

Sch­wahn cre­ated the se­ries and was the over­see­ing showrun­ner for its en­tire eight-sea­son run.

“All of the fe­male cast mem­bers of One Tree Hill have cho­sen this fo­rum to stand to­gether in sup­port of Au­drey Wau­chope and one an­other,” said the let­ter pub­lished in Va­ri­ety.

The let­ter stated that Sch­wahn’s al­leged chronic be­hav­iour on the show was an “open se­cret.”

“Many of us were, to vary­ing de­grees, ma­nip­u­lated psy­cho­log­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. More than one of us is still in treat­ment for post-trau­matic stress. Many of us were put in un­com­fort­able po­si­tions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, some­times phys­i­cally, be­cause it was made clear to us that the su­per­vi­sors in the room were not the pro­tec­tors they were sup­posed to be. … More than one woman on our show had her ca­reer tra­jec­tory threat­ened.”

Much of the al­leged of­fend­ing be­hav­iour was done in a way that was it was kept from the stu­dio, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter. “We also un­der­stood that no one was fully un­aware,” the let­ter con­tin­ued. “The lack of ac­tion that has been rou­tine, the turn­ing of the other cheek, is in­tol­er­a­ble. We col­lec­tively want to echo the calls of women ev­ery­where that ve­he­mently de­mand change, in all in­dus­tries.”

The cast and crew had kept silent un­til now to pro­tect the show’s legacy.

The let­ter was signed by 18 cast and crew in­clud­ing Bush, Bur­ton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Dan­neel Har­ris, Michaela McManus, Kate Voegele, Daphne Zu­niga, In­dia DeBeau­fort, Bevin Prince, Jana Kramer, Shantel Van San­ten, Al­li­son Munn and the crew, which in­cluded Wau­chope and Rachel Specter.

In her Nov. 11 tweets, Wau­chope dis­cussed get­ting a job with Specter, her writ­ing part­ner, on Tree Hill. “To say we were ex­cited was an un­der­state­ment. To say we left that job de­mor­al­ized and con­fused is also an un­der­state­ment,” Wau­chope tweeted.

With­out nam­ing Sch­wahn in the tweets, she wrote about a toxic en­vi­ron­ment where women risked un­wanted touch­ing dur­ing meet­ings and men on staff “were shown naked photos of an ac­tress he was hav­ing an af­fair with.”

“The staff sat on couches. Fe­male writ­ers would try to get the spot where the showrun­ner wouldn’t sit as to not be touched. Of­ten men would help out by sit­ting next to him,” Wau­chope tweeted.

Some­times these at­tempts to sep­a­rate Sch­wahn would fail, she says. “He’d just squeeze his dis­gust­ing body in be­tween us and put his arms around us, grin­ning. [He’d] pet hair. He mas­saged shoul­ders. I know he did more but not to me so they’re not my sto­ries to share,” Wau­chope tweeted.

Male mem­bers of the cast added their sup­port Tues­day. Bryan Green­berg tweeted praise for the women, say­ing: “I hope that their courage to tell the truth, will help put an end to the per­va­sive cul­ture of ha­rass­ment in the work place.”

Chad Michael Mur­ray is­sued a sim­i­lar state­ment to En­ter­tain­ment Weekly, say­ing: “A new fron­tier has ar­rived & it’s an hon­our to see all women stand up to the op­po­si­tion that has caused so much pain.”

Sch­wahn is cur­rently showrun­ning for the E! show The Roy­als. In a state­ment car­ried by Va­ri­ety, E!, Uni­ver­sal Ca­ble Pro­duc­tions and Lionsgate Tele­vi­sion — the firms be­hind The Roy­als — said: “We are mon­i­tor­ing the in­for­ma­tion care­fully. E!, Uni­ver­sal Ca­ble Pro­duc­tions and Lionsgate Tele­vi­sion are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing a safe work­ing en­vi­ron­ment in which every­one is treated re­spect­fully and pro­fes­sion­ally.”

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