Am I missing something? Did we suddenly rewind back to 2017? Five months after the New York Times' explosive story detailing Harvey Weinstein's history of alleged sexual assault and abuse, it seemed like Hollywood had gotten the message. Dozens of powerful men have lost their jobs as a result of women stepping up to share their stories of harassment, something that would have been unthinkable less than a year ago.
And yet, here we are, at the crowning event of an awards season, so marked by discussions stemming out of the #MeToo movement, and the Time's Up initiative, and Ryan Seacrest is back to his old tricks. The E! host has prime placement on the Oscars red carpet, on the heels of the accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against him by his former stylist, Suzie Hardy. The network, in a show of support, and probably anticipating a repeat of that now infamous moment at the Golden Globes, when Debra Messing called out their ill-treatment of Catt Sadler, reportedly implemented a 30-second delay on its red carpet coverage. And by relegating Giuliana Rancic to the hinterlands of The Roosevelt Hotel, E! all but guaranteed that any celebrity hoping to make an appearance on the network would have to go through Seacrest.
But by all appearances they needn't have bothered. Although it now looks like many celebrities chose to skip talking to Seacrest — and as a result, E! — altogether (although if you're keeping track, here's a list of those who did stop by), those who did stop by went out of their way to be nice to him. Kelly Ripa, Mary J. Blige, and Tiffany Haddish in particular praised Seacrest on his work during their interviews.
Ripa, who previously defended her Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host during Thursday's show, was Seacrest's first interview of the night, and assured him that everyone backstage was watching, and clapping. Blige, nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for Mudbound ended her time with some encouraging words. And Haddish, who was celebrating her first Oscars appearance — as a presenter — commended his long career as a red carpet host. In all fairness to Blige and Haddish, who, unlike Ripa, don't have a professional relationship with Seacrest to maintain, it's entirely possible they were warned not to rock the boat, and reacted accordingly.
Still, there was one exception. Taraji P. Henson, touching Seacrest's chin, appeared to allude to the elephant in the room when she said: “The universe has a way of taking care of good people. You know what I mean?”
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The allegations against Seacrest, which he had preempted with a denial back in November before Hardy's full accusations were published in Variety in February, have been dogging him throughout this awards season. At the Golden Globes, a night where Time's Up and #MeToo were basically the only accepted topic of conversation, he seemed hesitant to bring up the issue more than absolutely necessary. And so, though Seacrest continues to vehemently deny the accusations against him, his presence tonight appears to suggest that we haven't come as far as we think.
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