The red carpet featured lots of nudes, ivories and soft pinks. The interviews were pretty colorless, too.
After a fierce feminist takeover of January’s Golden Globes, the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Sunday night reverted to its former, fashion-focused pallor. On E!, Ryan Seacrest didn’t ask the actors he managed to wrangle about #MeToo or Time’s Up, the movements that took center stage at earlier awards shows. That network’s commentators mostly stuck to dresses and designers. They fawned over slow-motion images of stars posing for their “Glambot.”
In a few interviews with ABC, the women leading the Time’s Up campaign spoke about its work since Hollywood was roiled by sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the powerful producer who forever changed the Hollywood awards season. Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, who wrapped their arms around one another on the red carpet, pointed to recent progress on legislation and fundraising.
“I want people to know that this movement isn’t stopping,” Sorvino said. “We’re moving forward until we have an equitable and safe place for women.”
The awards show to come would tackle Hollywood’s gender and harassment problem head on, starting with host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue. “Here’s how clueless Hollywood is about women,” Kimmel said. “We made a movie called ‘What Women Want,’ and it starred Mel Gibson.”
But on the red carpet, at least, the movement was more muted.
Ahead of the Academy Awards, some of that movement’s leaders warned the press that they weren’t planning any stunts. Still, news outlets speculated whether stars would use their on-air time to call out Seacrest, whose former personal stylist has accused him of sexual misconduct. He has denied the allegations, and NBCUniversal has defended him, saying that an independent investigation showed the allegations were baseless. “Ryan Seacrest Could Face as Many Questions as He Asks at the Oscars,” the New York Times predicted.
It wasn’t unimaginable: During the Golden Globes, both Debra Messing and Eva Longoria used their interviews with E! to challenge the network. “I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-host the same as their male co-host,” Messing said on air. “I miss Catt Sadler. So we stand with her.”
On Sunday, no stars confronted Seacrest on camera. Those who appeared with him were chatty and touchy, praising him for hard work.
But at least one actor took down Seacrest with a smile. Twitter went crazy for a clip of Taraji P. Henson, who was there to present the performance of Mary J. Blige’s Oscar-nominated original song for “Mudbound.” Responding to his question about Blige, Henson said: “You know what, the universe has a way of taking care of good people. You know what I mean?”
She touched his chin, flashed a smile. “I agree,” Seacrest said.
It appeared that many actors skipped Seacrest altogether. None of the five actors nominated for best actress appeared on screen with him. And throughout the night, ABC seemed to get bigger stars and better interviews. “Ryan Seacrest is now a Greenpeace barker outside Trader Joe’s,” tweeted Wesley Morris, a culture critic for the New York Times.
At one point, E! journalist Kristin dos Santos brought up the glaring lack of women in Hollywood roles: “I want to drop some stats for you, because I feel like there has been so much talk about how many exciting things have happened this year for the women’s movement ... [But] there is so much more work to be done,” she said. “Still only 4 percent of directors are female as of 2017, which is not a significant change from the last 10 years.
“And I find those stats really alarming …”
But then it was back to Seacrest, who seemed intent on avoiding the issue.
He interviewed Christopher Plummer about the whirlwind reshoot for the film “All the Money in the World,” without ever mentioning the reason behind it: Plummer was called in to replace Kevin Spacey, after Spacey’s own sexual misconduct allegations.
Much of the red-carpet spectacle at this year’s Academy Awards, the first post-Weinstein, struck that same, strange tone. #MeToo was everywhere, it seemed, except on E!’s cue cards.
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168 On Twitter: @ByJenna