Netflix halts production after the Kevin Spacey scandal.
Netflix’s flagship series, House of Cards, is making headlines for the third time in 24 hours. After Anthony Rapp’s allegations against House of Cards actor, Kevin Spacey, came to light, Netflix announced they would end the series after its upcoming sixth season. Then Netflix announced that there are multiple House of Cards spinoff series in development. And today, Netflix and Media Rights Capital which produces the series, released a joint statement announcing that they are halting production on the show’s final season. The statement read:
MRC and Netflix have decided to suspend production on ‘House of Cards’ season six, until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew.
Netflix’s swift course of action is huge news that has ramifications throughout the entire entertainment industry. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, there has been increased media scrutiny towards sexual misconduct in the entertainment business. As more and more sexual abuse allegations come to light companies are under pressure to cut bait with employees caught up in sexual misconduct scandals, regardless of their value to the company. Amazon Studio head, Roy Price, recently stepped down amid sexual harassment allegations and Amazon also pulled the plug on a $160 million-dollar David O. Russell project (poised to star Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore), due to The Weinstein Company’s involvement.
So what does this mean for the entertainment industry as a whole? It’s becoming clear that Hollywood is adopting a zero-tolerance policy for sexual scandal — it’s sad that this wasn’t always the case. Netflix halted production on House of Cards before the Spacey story was 48-hours old. When a content provider as powerful as Netflix acts so swiftly to distance themselves from a sex scandal involving one of their biggest stars, it sets a powerful precedent. For years, the entertainment industry conducted itself like an old boys’ club that looks out for its own. Now, men who habitually abuse their power and fame have been put on notice.
Here’s a moral quandary that comes with Netflix’s latest announcement: When an actor is caught up in a scandal, on what grounds should studios halt production or cancel the actor’s show? TV series employ dozens of actors and hundreds of people behind the scenes, so is it right for everyone involved in the show to lose their jobs because of one actor’s misconduct? What would have happened if Spacey had come out and refuted the claims rather than apologize? I don’t have answers for these questions but given the rate at which the entertainment industry is exposing incidents of sexual misconduct, it’s only a matter of time before we’re confronted with scandals that don’t appear so black and white.