Viacom CEO Bob Bakish spoke at the ITVFest about diversity and inclusion at his company which eventually led to a conversation about the Harvey Weinstein scandal. When asked about the controversy surrounding the Hollywood producer, he said it was “deplorable and mind-blowing” mostly because it went on for so long.
Bakish points out that Viacom is best known as one of the best cultures in the entertainment business and sees the value and respects employees, diversity, and a comfortable work environment. He also added how Viacom has a strong representation of females. He points out that Viacom does not have any history of “bad behavior” similar to Weinstein, but says there are “pockets in places” with this behavior. To that he said, people have to “stand up and say no.”
“I’ve read some of the stories [from the women] about being uncomfortable — some of them continued to work with Harvey and some didn’t,” Bakish said. “You can’t be in this culture with fear like that — it’s a problem.”
He adds, “If you want to be an optimist, maybe this is a catalyst so that people will work to fundamentally improve the situation.”
Viacom is one of the most heavily invested companies in The Weinstein Company on the TV side. Viacom’s Paramount Network (which is currently known as Spike) is heavily relying on TWC for its rebrand launch as a flagship general entertainment network. The Paramount Network is set to launch in January and is built around TWC’s Waco with Taylor Kitsch, Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner as well as the six-part documentary series Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story with Jay-Z, based in part on a book by former Weinstein legal advisor Lisa Bloom. Additionally, Viacom’s MTV airs the TWC-produced Scream TV series, based on the Dimension movie franchise.
A Paramount Network spokesperson has said that Weinstein’s name has since been scrubbed from the credits as well as the company card reflecting TWC’s new name once it is announced.