Amazon Studios chief Roy Price suspended following harassment allegation

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon Studios chief Roy Price was put on an immediate leave of absence Thursday, the company said, following allegations that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress's claim of a sexual assault by producer Harvey Weinstein.

The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday reported an allegation by Isa Hackett, a producer on one of Amazon.com Inc's shows, that Price had lewdly propositioned her in 2015.

Amazon said in a statement: "Roy Price is on leave of absence effective immediately. We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co.”

Hackett did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters could not independently confirm the allegation. Price could not immediately be reached independently by Reuters and he declined to comment to the Hollywood Reporter.

Price's removal creates uncertainty about the studio's direction when Amazon is investing more on video content than ever before - some $4.5 billion this year.

The studio's Chief Operating Officer Albert Cheng will step in as the interim chief, Amazon said.

Hackett is the daughter of famed science fiction author Philip K. Dick, whose book "The Man in the High Castle" served as the basis for Amazon's eponymous show.

Also on Thursday, actress Rose McGowan said on Twitter that she had told Price that she had been assaulted by Weinstein, who was forced out of his company this week following reports in the New Yorker and the New York Times that he had harassed and assaulted numerous women over the years. In tweets directed at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, she criticized the company for doing business with the Weinstein Co.

A spokeswoman for Harvey Weinstein said: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”

Price has been integral to Amazon's movie business, helping steer it through an attempt to crowd-source television scripts and garnering Hollywood awards for shows such as "Transparent."

Amazon hopes original movies and TV shows will draw new people to join its streaming and shopping club Prime, and in turn buy more goods from the online retailer.

The studio picked up three Oscars this year under Price's helm, though its failure to show at the Emmy Awards last month was seen by many in Hollywood as a setback.

(Reporting by Jonathan Weber and Jeffrey Dastin; Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

10/12/2017 22:48

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