Oprah Winfrey: we don’t let a-holes on our movie sets

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Oprah is everywhere these days. It makes sense, when you have an empire, occasionally all your kingdoms need your attention at once. In addition to her new food line and her book release, The Wisdom of Sundays, OWN just celebrated the season finale of its Queen Sugar series. After giving her thoughts on the Weinstein charges, Oprah was asked at the Queen Sugar party how she avoids harassment and other offenses on her sets. Oprah’s policy to eliminate such perpetrators is simple – a-holes need not apply.

Oprah Winfrey has zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior.

On Tuesday night, at the season finale celebration of OWN’s Queen Sugar in West Hollywood, California, the media mogul told reporters she keeps her sets harassment free by being very choosy about who she works with.

“We don’t want any a——- around us,” she said before describing the casting process that weeds out any unsavory characters on set.

“First of all starting with all-female directors,” she continued. “Ava [DuVernay] casts from the spirit of the person and looks for skill and talent. You’re casting with the very idea of surrounding yourself and when you’re looking at casting you’re looking at ‘Does this guy fit with this woman? Does this little boy fit? Could those two people have had that boy? And how do we make this family?’”

“So we’re looking at those things and not just looking at who’s gonna be the star and take the lead but looking at how does it all integrate so that it can evolve into something bigger,” Winfrey said..

[From People]

I don’t totally understand what Oprah is saying. I get her “no a–hole” policy and try to live by it whenever possible. But I thought most casting included a chemistry test between characters. It may be that she is speaking of a larger process which includes her comments about hiring “the spirit” of a person. When Oprah was talking to Justin Sylvester at Daily Pop, she said she used to meet with every potential hire on her show to have a “gut check” chat with them. Oprah believes “you can teach a lot of things but you cannot teach goodness.” and that puts her comments in more context, I think. But I still not sure I follow her process.

Oprah was asked recently who her worst guest was from her talk show days. She ultimately did not name names but offered the type of guest that was the worst. She did come close to naming an author who drove her crazy. However, when the story started circulating, the headlines read, “Oprah names her worst guest” followed by a picture of Oprah with Harry Connick Jr. The reason is because it was Harry who asked her the question when she appeared on his show. But I didn’t know that and refused to open the article for fear that Harry was her worst guest. That’s what 2017 has come to, if I see someone’s face under a headline, I assume they’ve been outed as an a-hole.

“What do you think, Oprah?” “Looks like and a-hole, Ava. Pass.”
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26 Responses to “Oprah Winfrey: we don’t let a-holes on our movie sets”

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  1. Jessica says:

    I know who the author is. It’s the guy who wrote a book about his mental health experience but it ended up being mostly lies. Gosh I wish I had a better description but I can’t think of it without doing some research.

    • Alexandra says:

      That’s James Frey!

      • Jessica says:

        Yes him; his book was the hot craze like 50 Shades of Grey and it was all lies. Might as well have been a Harry Potter book.

      • BlueSky says:

        it was Alan Dershowitz. I believe she mentioned in the article the guest was a lawyer.He kept referring to his book, the Advocate’s Devil. I remember she had Al Franken on her show and she was telling him about.

  2. Frosty says:

    James Frey?

  3. Luca76 says:

    Didn’t she recently co star with Terrence Howard???

    • I Choose Me says:

      I was just swanning into the comments to type that. I’m sure Terrence was on his best behaviour but man, that guy’s got issues. A whole newsstand worth. He’s firmly in a-hole territory for me.

      • Carrie1 says:

        Oprah is as full of doublespeak, etc. as every other successful person. She’s trying to cover her ass based on the excerpt above.

        There was an author who rejected having her book club sticker on his book, fought to get it removed and had to publicly state he didn’t want to be in her book club to do so. That was the end of her book club I think but unsure because I avoid her mostly.

  4. Joss RED says:

    Guess she doesn’t know Terrence Howard that well?

    • Feedmechips says:

      Maybe she’s a fellow baby wipes fanatic.

    • V4Real says:

      That’s what I was thinking.

      Then again The Butler wasn’t produced by Oprah so technically it wasn’t her movie set.

      It was distributed by The Weinstein Co.

  5. blogdis says:

    Not all a holes appear to be be obviously so in fact some can be quite charming and manipulative
    Furthermore didn’t Oprah work with Terrence Howard one of the biggest a holes of them all

  6. Jenns says:

    This statement really bugs me. No matter what your policy is, no one is immune from harassers. Someone might come across as the nicest person in the world, but turn out to be a monster. Just read Harry Dreyfuss’s article on Kevin Spacey.

    • Carrie1 says:

      I hear you and agree. Oprah is a bs’er of the highest order. I pegged her in the early 90s and found her tv show topics alarming. I think we have her to thank for Dr. Oz if not mistaken. If not him specifically, she spent a load of time peddling all manner of pseudo-everything.

      Her opinion is no more valuable than anyone else’s.

  7. dodgy says:

    I think Shonda Rhimes has that rule too. No assholes on set. And if you’re found to be one, they get rid of you sharpish.

  8. Astrid says:

    Didn’t she start some all girl school in South Africa and there were allegations of sexual abuse by the dormitory staff? She comes off sounding sort of smug that she “knows” people and won’t hire them if they’re behaving inappropriately.

  9. Ladykatan says:

    Sexual predators are master manipulators. They often seem like “nice guys”. Saying we just don’t hire them is shitty. It implies that it’s obvious that they’re assholes. A few better ways to have answered that question:

    1. We prefer to cast with a smaller pool of actors. That way we have quality control.

    2. Male actors have to be recommended bywomen we trust.

    3. We have a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate sexual behavior

    4. We foster an environment where we always believe victims, and have an open door policy for victims to feel supported and safe. This is a huge reason why the Weinsteins and Spaceys of the world get to keep assaulting, and the victims don’t come forward for decades

    • tracking says:

      Very well said.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Good point.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Loved how you worded this. I’m with her to a certain extent on the gut check but we have to keep reminding ourselves that the bad guys aren’t always easily identifiable by looks and or disposition.

      My childhood molester was the sweetest guy. Respectful to his mother and protective of his sisters which is why he was allowed to baby sit me. An A+ student. Thoughtful, hard working etc., He still did what he did to me when I was six. Which completely shocked my mother when I finally told her at age 14.

    • Carrie1 says:

      Thank you, agree so well said. No manipulative words or distortion is a must to protect ourselves.

  10. Turtle says:

    I’ve known a couple of people who have a say in hiring who both had the same rule: “No drugs, no assh0les.” They literally said, “We do not hire assh0les.” It worked remarkably well. I clearly remember asking them both if that rule ever failed them and they both said the rule never failed so much as they ignored their own instincts a few times because they really wanted a particular person for a specific skill or whatever and it turned out badly.

    Oprah is very comfortable these days in her bubble of wealth and privilege but I really don’t think she is so unaware or tone-deaf that she would suggest hiring by “spirit” or whatever insulates someone from harassment or assault.

  11. Myhairisfullofsecrets says:

    Here’s the thing, my dad was/is a disgusting, abusive a**hole. No one believed me when I told them b/c he was so “nice, handsome and cool”. I want to take out a billboard in Times Square exposing him so the whole world knows.

    I just found out a few months ago that he sexually molested my aunt when she was 11 years old before I was born. He never sexually abused me but I have no doubt in my mind that my aunt was not the only child he did it to.

    You don’t know you are in the presence of an a**hole until they truly show themselves to you. Usually by mistake.

  12. Molly says:

    No system will weed out 100% of all a-holes, but putting women in positions of power will go a LONG way to weed out most. Good for Oprah for hiring women directors.

  13. Beth says:

    Does she actually ask them or do they mention that they’re assholes? If that works, there’s a few out there that I should’ve asked or wish they would’ve told me before I wasted time on them. Not all assholes seem bad at first

    • Turtle says:

      The people I know who had this policy literally said, at interviews, “we have a no drugs, no assh0les” policy. The candidates usually just laughed. But you can learn a lot about people by how they conduct themselves, their body language, how they respond to questions and basic common courtesy. It’s not foolproof, but it works remarkably well.

      I’ve been involved in casting theatre productions and it amazes me how people will waltz in and be argumentative or bitchy or behave terribly to the assistant signing them in or they will just be undone by a director asking them to try something different. I mean, I get that it’s nerve-wracking and the constant rejection wears you down, but who am I going to cast between two talented actors? The one who was rude to the casting assistant or the one who was polite and professional?