(UPDATED with Jill Soloway statement) EXCLUSIVE: Three weeks after Amazon Studios boss Roy Price resigned over sexual harassment claims, the company is conducting an investigation into allegations against Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Deadline that the company has initiated an investigation. In a statement, Tambor himself calls the claims “baseless.”
In its early stages, the probe primarily stems from allegations by Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes of implied inappropriate behavior on the part of the Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Awards winner. The investigation into the claims by the transgender Barnes, which she made online in a private Facebook post, began earlier this week, we hear. In the post, she claims that her former boss, whom she does not identify by name, had repeatedly propositioned her, made lewd comments, groped her and threatened to sue her if she spoke up.
“I am aware that a former disgruntled assistant of mine has made a private post implying that I had acted in an improper manner toward her,” Tambor told Deadline today. “I adamantly and vehemently reject and deny any and all implication and allegation that I have ever engaged in any improper behavior toward this person or any other person I have ever worked with. I am appalled and distressed by this baseless allegation.”
Amazon’s stance on such allegations is to investigate promptly and thoroughly, a source says. The investigation is in the process of speaking to members of the Transparent production and Tambor personally. The Jill Soloway-created series, Amazon’s flagship comedy, is currently not in production.
“Anything that would diminish the level of respect, safety and inclusion so fundamental to our workplace is completely antithetical to our principles,” Soloway said in a statement today. “We are cooperating with the investigation into this matter.”
As well as working for Tambor on Transparent, Barnes has also appeared on E! now-shuttered I Am Cait with Caitlyn Jenner and the Amazon documentary anthology miniseries This Is Me back in 2015.
This investigation into Tambor comes as the Jeff Bezos-founded studio has seen a near exodus of executives in recent weeks, led by studio head Price, who was suspended and subsequently resigned after details became public about how he had lewdly propositioned The Man in the High Castle executive producer Isa Dick Hackett during San Diego Comic-Con in 2015.
Price had been the subject of an investigation by Amazon after Hackett relayed the Comic-Con incidents to company executives. The studio later said that “we looked closely at this specific concern and addressed it directly with those involved.” Price stayed in his job for over two years until the spotlight on disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged decades long behavior of sexual harassment and sexual assault also turned toward Price and his conduct.
Tambor is repped by the Gersh Agency and the Burstein Company.