Rose McGowan — the writer, director, activist, and former actor who has led the charge against Harvey Weinstein — appeared Tuesday at the Television Critics Association Press Tour to talk about Citizen Rose, the upcoming E! docuseries that has chronicled her life in its eventful recent months. In a video McGowan made that ran before the panel began, she asked that no one say Weinstein's name during the Q&A — "the name we all know," she said. (No one did.)
McGowan is known for giving zero fucks, a stance that has continued as the reckoning against sexual harassment and assault has unfolded. On Tuesday, she reiterated her skepticism about Time's Up, the recently formed organization to combat sexual misconduct inside and outside of Hollywood. McGowan was asked about Time's Up and trying to change the system from within, and before the reporter had even finished the question about whether that is possible, McGowan said "No."
"I know the people that are behind this," McGowan said. "I know where they have their meetings, I know who's sponsoring it." (She has been especially critical on Twitter that Time's Up meets at and has taken money from the agency CAA, tweeting on Monday, "Why, it’s the company of pimps that sent so many into the Monster’s Lair themselves. CAA.")
She continued: "What people see from the outside when they see the red carpet, I see behind the scenes. I know a lot of things. I think a system that's massively broken — that's a Band-Aid to make yourselves feel better for what you've all known about and were silent witnesses to and/or participants in. … No, I do not forgive."
According to McGowan, someone had texted her to ask if her name could be used to "aid female farmworkers for sexual harassment," she said. "Next thing you know, I'm endorsing Time's Up." McGowan said she is putting her house on the market because of mounting legal bills fighting "the monster," which is what she calls Weinstein.
McGowan also said she has been preparing for the documentary, which is being produced by Bunim/Murray (The Real World, Keeping Up With the Kardashians), for three years. She realized she didn’t know how to appear on camera without scripts, so she began filming herself doing Facebook Live videos, footage that will be used in the series, according to executive producer Jon Murray. She approached the producers in August, and they began filming in September, long before they had sold the show to E!. Consequently, the five-part docuseries filmed McGowan when the New York Times and New Yorker exposés of Weinstein were published. Executive producer Andrea Metz said McGowan didn't tell them the details of those, but just said, "Trust me." Citizen Rose premieres on Jan. 30, the same day McGowan's memoir, Brave, will be released.
Because the docuseries is a feminist project airing on E!, the question of Catt Sadler and pay disparity arose during the panel. McGowan said: "That came about after I'd already done my deal. Let me hang out awhile — maybe that will change."
After the panel ended, Frances Berwick, NBCUniversal's president of Lifestyle Networks, took to the podium to give reporters a more complete explanation for Sadler's departure than the network had previously provided.
"There is a lot of misinformation out there," Berwick said. "Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries. Catt was focused on daytime. Jason Kennedy is on prime, evening news, plus red carpet. Our employees’ salaries are based on their roles and their expertise, regardless of gender. So we wish Catt well, but I hope that sets the record straight on that."
The Sadler issue has been a source of embarrassment for the network, which faced criticism on its own airwaves during the Golden Globes' red carpet interviews. "I was shocked to hear that E! doesn't believe in paying their female cohosts the same as their male cohosts," said Debra Messing in one instance. "I miss Catt Sadler."