Two months after the Golden Globes aired, a red carpet moment is still making headlines. As reported by The New York Times on Friday, E! producer Aileen Gram-Moreno claims she was fired for allowing an interview to air, in which Eva Longoria expressed support for former E! anchor Catt Sadler. Gram-Moreno claimed she was instructed to vet all celebrity interviews for mentions of Sadler, who had recently quit her job over an equal pay dispute. Meanwhile, E! told the Times they ended their working relationship with Gram-Moreno due to a "pattern of poor performance," not Longoria's interview being aired.
An E! spokesperson told Bustle in a statement on Saturday:
"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. After the Golden Globes she was asked not to return due to job performance issues. Following an attempt to force E! to pay for her silence Ms. Moreno is now spreading misleading and inaccurate information.”
Due to time constraints and filming multiple interviews at once, E! can't air every single interview live, the Times reported. According to Gram-Moreno, she was asked to censor mentions of Sadler, a request she didn't agree with. The freelance producer told the Times, "They said, if there's any mention of Catt in the preshow, make sure you flag it. You're censoring celebrities; it's just not a good idea in my humble opinion. But it wasn't my decision."
However, a source close to the situation told Bustle, "Her job was not to censor anything. Her job was simply to alert our EPs of what the content of all interviews was." That reportedly included checking for curse words, buzzy moments, "anything and everything."
In the Times piece, E! contested the idea that they made any attempts to censor anyone. Adam Stotsky, president of E! Entertainment, told the publication that all of the interviews featuring mentions of Sadler are available on their website, including one featuring Natalie Portman that was cut for time. Stotsky told the Times, "If we were trying to censor, which is her primary thesis here, we certainly wouldn't have done that."
The interview at the heart of the dispute featured Longoria alongside her fellow #TimesUp supporters Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. According to The Hollywood Reporter, after discussing the Time's Up movement, Longoria said,
"We support gender equity and equal pay. And we hope that E! follows the lead with Catt as well. We stand with you, Catt."
On Dec. 19, Sadler left E! after finding out she was reportedly paid less than her male co-host Jason Kennedy. She wrote on her site, "Know your worth. I have two decades experience in broadcasting and started at the network the very same year as my close friend and colleague that I adore... But how can I operate with integrity and stay on at E if they're not willing to pay me the same as him?" Sadler also claimed that she asked E! to compensate her fairly multiple times, and each time they reportedly refused. In a statement to Bustle, an E! spokesperson said,
"E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender. We appreciate Catt Sadler's many contributions at E! News and wish her all the best following her decision to leave the network."
Given the Time's Up movement's focus on equal pay, and the Golden Globes being a big night for discussing the issues plaguing Hollywood, it wasn't surprising that some celebrities felt compelled to use their platform to support Sadler. One of the first to do so was Debra Messing, and after her interview aired, Stotsky told the Times that the network did want to be made aware of any mentions of Sadler going forward. However, he also claimed there was no increase in reviewing interviews that would have added to Gram-Moreno's workload either.
According to the Times, Gram-Moreno has filed a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the report, she claims that her job was terminated unfairly and that she was also replaced by a man. A source close to the situation told Bustle, "She was relieved of her responsibilities due to issues with her performance... There were multiple instances where she wasn’t performing her job at the expectations of [the network]." Gram-Moreno's attorney, Katherine Atkinson, told Bustle, "In the 12 years Aileen has been working on red carpet shows for E! they never once raised a performance issue. That is a convenient excuse for covering up attempts to silence women speaking out. Employers often attack women speaking out about discrimination - so I am disappointed in E! but not surprised."
While both sides are sticking by their stories, this draws more eyes on the network, who sparked headlines earlier this week after it was announced that Ryan Seacrest will still host E!'s Oscars red carpet after sexual misconduct allegations about him surfaced. (Seacrest has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, and E! conducted an investigation that "found insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations against Seacrest.")
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.