In what appears to be the result of renewed sexual harassment allegations against Roy Price, Amazon has given the head of its original programming division a “leave of absence effective immediately.”
Price’s supposed suspension comes after months of speculation around his possible departure over harassment allegations, as well as due to Amazon’s major shift into specific niche genres of original programming, which goes against Price’s strategy for content but was a mandate from Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.
In a related incident, Price’s counsel, Lisa Bloom, has not only dropped Price as a client, but also Harvey Weinstein. The news came after several allegations were made by women who claimed to be harassed or, in some cases, raped by Weinstein. Among the latter group is actress Rose McGowan, who tweeted to Bezos:
“I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof.”
Amazon is currently moving away from niche content and focusing on shows with broader appeal, per Bezos’ mandate. In the process, dramas such as “The Last Tycoon” and “Z: The Beginning of Everything” have been cancelled. The retail giant’s entertainment unit has now cut a deal with Robert Kirkman, creator of “The Walking Dead”, through ex-Fox executive Sharon Tal Yguado. While at Fox, Yguado was a key catalyst in the financing and licensing of “The Walking Dead” on more than 200 Fox-brand channels in overseas markets. Yguado and Kirkman have also worked together on “Outcast.”
Meanwhile, Amazon’s relationship with The Weinstein Company on two upcoming projects is on shaky ground. Both series were approved by Price, but Amazon now hints that it could review its position on the shows.
In Price’s absence, the COO of Amazon Studios, Albert Cheng, will be interim head of the division. Cheng is the former head of Disney/ABC Television Group, having begun his career with the entertainment conglomerate in 2000, as vice president of national accounts and distribution strategy.