U.S. actors, TV networks agree to end casting couch

The largest U.S. actors’ union and the four major television networks on Saturday agreed to limit auditions in private hotel rooms and homes, ratifying a guideline the screen actors’ guild had enacted on its own following the #MeToo uproar, the union said.

SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors, and management from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract that also includes an array of pay increases, the guild said in a statement. The deal is subject to approval by the guild’s board of directors next month.

The networks and union agreed to language similar to that from the union’s own Guideline No. 1, issued in April, which called for an end to auditions, interviews and similar professional meetings in private hotel rooms or at private residences.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said at the time the goal was to eliminate the potential for “predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting.”

The so-called casting couch has long been used by men seeking sexual favors from actresses in exchange for parts.

The measures followed the industry outrage that resulted from news reports that numerous women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Weinstein denied the allegations.

The Weinstein reports led to a wave of accusations against high-profile men in politics, the media and show business, transforming the U.S. conversation about sexual harassment and assault.

Women told stories about how they had been harassed using the #MeToo hashtag on social media.

The scrutiny of Weinstein led to criminal charges against the producer last month. On June 5, Weinstein pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court to charges of rape and sexual assault based on allegations from 2004 and 2013.

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