One Tree Hill has been off the air since 2012, but that didn't make it any less upsetting when showrunner Mark Schwahn was accused of sexual harassment by 18 female cast and crew members, according to Variety. And, when the allegations were made in November 2017, Schwahn was running another TV show — The Royals. After the allegations, E!, Universal Cable Productions, and Lionsgate Television suspended Schwahn from The Royals to investigate these claims. The outcome of this investigation could impact the future of Elizabeth Hurley's Queen Helena and her brood. But for now, the show apparently must go on since The Royals is scheduled to return for Season 4 in 2018. (Bustle has reached out to an agent and lawyer for Schwahn for comment on the allegations, but did not receive a response.)
UPDATE: On Thursday, Dec. 21, Deadline reported that E! has parted ways with Schwahn. Lionsgate shared the following statement with Deadline:
“We have concluded our investigation and Mark will not be returning to The Royals. The 4th season of the show has already completed production and will air as scheduled on E! in the spring.”
The fate of Season 5 remains unclear, according to Deadline.
EARLIER: Just days before the Season 3 finale aired in February 2017, The Royals was renewed for Season 4. And, it appears to be full steam ahead for the show even amid this controversy. In its announcement of Schwahn's suspension, The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Season 4 on The Royals will not be impacted as production on the drama wrapped in September. Season 4 will air as planned next year." Schwahn did oversee all of Season 4. And, this installment is further complicated because Princess Eleanor actor Alexandra Park also came forward to allege that she experienced harassment by Schwahn. Her full statement is below:
Park claimed she decided to open up about her alleged experiences after the One Tree Hill cast and crew came forward, which started when former One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope accused Schwahn on Nov. 11. Wauchope, who currently works on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, did not initially give Schwahn's name in her Twitter posts about the alleged inappropriate work environment he allegedly created for the young, female writers. Later, 17 other women who also worked on One Tree Hill — including stars Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush, and Bethany Joy Lenz — supported Wauchope through an open letter, acknowledging their own alleged experiences.
Even before Park made her allegations public, Schwahn had been suspended from The Royals. And the social media pages for The Royals have been dark since Nov. 12, which was one day after Wauchope's accusations.
After Park's statement, Hurley responded to claim that she had never witnessed or experienced Schwahn's alleged behavior, but she added that "it's totally unacceptable for anyone to work in a place in which they feel unsafe." Her full statement is below:
Inspired by the One Tree Hill open letter and Park's statement, 25 female cast and crew of The Royals accused Schwahn of sexual harassment in a letter of their own, which they released on Nov. 16. Among many others, the letter was signed by actors Merritt Patterson (Ophelia), Lydia Rose Bewley (Princess Penelope), Hatty Preston (Princess Maribel, but she left the show after Season 1), Sophie Colquhoun (Gemma), Poppy Corby-Tuech (Prudence), and Jerry-Jane Pears (who replaced Preston as Maribel). In their letter, they wrote:
"This statement is a collection of voices from those women involved in 'The Royals' who would like to finally respond to the behaviour of our showrunner. Who felt the inclination to abuse his power and influence in an environment where he had it over women who felt they did not. This manifested itself in the repeated unwanted sexual harassment of multiple female members of cast and crew."
Schwahn was an active showrunner, even hosting the live aftershow, Royal Hangover, on Facebook Live throughout Season 3 — presumably this would be cancelled or he would be replaced as host pending results of the investigation into the allegations. All this aside, as of now, E! plans to air The Royals Season 4, which Variety reported will premiere in March 2018. After that, it's not clear if there will be another season — and only time will tell if the cast and crew wishes to continue filming.