“It’s disappointing that any network would order the censorship of opinions,” Sadler, who quit the network after learning her male colleague was paid twice as much as she was, told Variety Saturday. “But it’s particularly disturbing in this case because we are at a cultural tipping point where women feel more and more comfortable being vocal about issues like pay equality and sexual misconduct. To shut down those conversations is to stifle progress.”
On Thursday, long-time E! News producer Aileen Gram-Moreno filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming she was unfairly fired and replaced by a man, the New York Times reported. She worked as a part-time producer on E!'s red carpet coverage for 12 years, and claims she was told to avoid airing interviews that brought up Sadler or focused on the Time's Up or #MeToo movements.
After Debra Messing mentioned Sadler in a live interview with Giuliana Rancic, Gram-Moreno claims her bosses were worried more celebrities would do the same. So, they told her to carefully review more interviews before they air.
“They said, if there’s any mention of Catt in the pre-show, make sure you flag it,” Gram-Moreno told the Times. “You’re censoring celebrities; it’s just not a good idea in my humble opinion. But it wasn’t my decision.”
After the Messing interview, Gream-Moreno still aired Ryan Seacrest's interview with Eva Longoria, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. At the end of the interview, Longoria said, "We stand with you, Catt."
Gram-Moreno claimed in her filing that she decided to air the interview before hearing Longoria make that comment.
Gram-Moreno said she apologized to her executive producer, but was fired from the rest of the red carpet shows she was booked for five days later.
E! Entertainment President Adam Stotsky disputed the claims, telling the Times that if the network was censoring celebrities, the interviews would not have aired at all. However, he did confirm that they were keeping an eye on mentions of Sadler.
"If we were trying to censor, which is her primary thesis here, we certainly wouldn’t have done that," Stotsky said. "We don’t agree with Debra Messing’s assertion. We’re not in the business of being a megaphone for an inaccurate story.”
Stotsky also disputed Gram-Moreno's claim that the network increased her workload. He said she showed a "pattern of poor performance" and her Golden Globes mistakes was the end of the line for her.
"For the past decade Aileen Gram-Moreno was a freelancer who worked an average of 20 days per year solely for our red-carpet coverage," E! spokeswoman Sarah Goldstein told the Times. "After the Golden Globes, she was asked not to return due to job performance issues. Ms. Gram-Moreno filed her legal claim after her request for a financial settlement was turned down.”
The complaint comes at a difficult time for E!, as Seacrest is facing allegations of sexual harassment. Publicists have reportedly told celebrities to avoid him on the red carpet, although E! has said its own investigation found "insufficient evidence" to support the allegations against him.
Photo credit: Instagram/ Catt Sadler