Last month, actor Ray Fisher, who portrayed Cyborg in Justice League, alleged that Joss Whedon’s treatment of cast and crew during reshoots of Justice League was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable”. Now WarnerMedia has opened an investigation into the Whedon-led part of the production:
After 5 weeks of interviews with various cast/crew, @WarnerMedia has officially launched an independent third-party investigation to get to the heart of the toxic and abusive work environment created during Justice League reshoots.— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) August 20, 2020
This is a MASSIVE step forward!
This comes on the heels of the investigation into the toxic work environment on Ellen, which led to the firing of three producers on the show and an apology from Ellen to her staff. WarnerMedia is certainly keeping the law firms of Los Angeles busy during the pandemic.
This investigation has just begun so there are no findings yet, but just the fact that Warners is making it an official inquiry ought to silence the “pics or it didn’t happen” crowd that has been hounding Fisher since he first spoke up in July. Now the question turns to what happens if they find some misconduct or wrongdoing occurred during the production. This isn’t like a television show where there are people actively employed who can be fired. Justice League came out three years ago, those contracts are long closed.
Of course, all the people Fisher called out are still working with WarnerMedia in some capacity. Whedon is in the middle of producing a new series for HBO, The Nevers. Geoff Johns has already been replaced as the head of the DC Films unit, but he remains a writer and producer involved with many upcoming DC film and television projects, including Wonder Woman 1984, which he co-wrote. (Patty Jenkins was just singing his praises in an interview, will we be treated to a Fisher-esque recanting in a few weeks or months?) And Jon Berg, who was co-president of production at Warner Brothers when Justice League tanked, has also already been moved out of that position and given a production deal with the studio. (Ah, to be “fired” by a movie studio and given a lucrative production deal as my exit package.) So there are current deals that could be terminated if evidence of improper behavior is found, or they could force Whedon to step down from The Nevers, though he would still benefit from the association with his production company.
I just wonder what outcome will make people happy. Of course, toxic behavior should be called out and there should be consequences. But this isn’t like the Ellen situation where you can just fire someone and call it a day. Johns and Berg have already lost their leadership positions within the company, and Whedon is now working under a separate contract. I’m not sure what you can do to a contract employee called to the carpet for wrongdoing that occurred under a different employment agreement—lawyers reading LaineyGossip, weigh in. All I mean is, I don’t think any outcome here will be cut and dry, there will probably be equivocations, and they can always blame people who have already left as part of the AT&T merger. As Fisher points out, this all happened during a transition of power, so they have plenty of already-sacked scapegoats waiting in the wings.
Toxic work environments start at the top, but the consequences of those negative environments rarely get that far—just as we saw with Ellen, it’s usually someone in middle management who takes the blame. I will be interested to see how this one works out, and who falls on their sword this time. Also, I bet everyone at Warners wishes they had a time machine so they could go back to 2016 and delay Justice League when Zack Snyder had to step away. Really and truly, in hindsight, they should have just delayed when Snyder couldn’t finish the film. Look at all the crap that has ensued because of that one decision. A little patience back then, and all of this would be avoidable now.