Writer Audrey Wauchope, who currently works on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” accused “One Tree Hill” creator Mark Schwahn of inappropriate behavior on set of the WB show.
Without naming him, Wauchope described the writers room that she and writing partner Rachel Specter encountered during their first job.
“When I was 29 my writing partner @RachelSpecter and I were hired as staff writers. To say we were excited was an understatement. To say we left that job demoralized and confused is also an understatement. One of the 1st things we were told was that the show runner hired female writers on the basis of their looks. That’s why you’re here — he wants to f—k you,” Wauchope tweeted.
“Rachel had been actress previous to writing and was told that he used to talk about her in the room before we were hired. So that’s a safe room to enter as staff writers. Imagine what that does to ones psyche. Imagine feeling for the rest of your career that you’re possibly an imposter – that maybe just maybe you’re only here because you’re a body, not a mind. It creeps into your thoughts and keeps you up at night and makes you wonder.”
Wauchope also alleged that female writers would try to avoid sitting next to Schwahn on office couches and that men would try to protect them from him.
“Sometimes we wouldn’t luck out and he’d just squeeze his disgusting body in between us and put his arms around us, grinning. He pet hair. He massaged shoulders. I know he did more but not to me so they’re not my stories to share,” she wrote.
“Men on staff were shown naked photos of on an actress he was having an affair with. Naked photos she didn’t know were being passed around. Naked photos they didn’t want to see. This is such a violation,both to the actress and to the men forced to look and participate.”
Wauchope said female writers tried to avoid sitting near Schwahn in the writers room to prevent inappropriate touching.
Wauchope claimed that Schwahn even asked Specter if she wanted to go through with her wedding the day before the ceremony.
“He’s a man in a position of power who was allowed to run a television show for years where this behavior continuously went on,” she tweeted. “I don’t blame the men on that staff — I truly believe they were also in a way victims of psychological abuse and didn’t know what to do.”
Schwahn even skipped the mandatory sexual harassment training from studio lawyers, Wauchope claimed.
“I’m furious and sad and everything else for the women who have sat on that couch next to that man. And I’m furious and sad and everything else that years later I don’t feel safe to be able to do anything real about this and that it seems to be happening all over this town,” she tweeted.
“I write all this to say that there are trickle down psychological effects to all this bullshit and the town is littered with the collateral damage of abusers who have been given free reign. If you’re sitting on one of these staffs please know whatever you are feeling is real.”
Many of the female “One Tree Hill” stars reached out to support Wauchope after her allegations.
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“Here for, and with, you 110%” tweeted Sophia Bush. “For the record. I stand with Audrey. And to the bad guys? Yeah. #F–kYourSorry.”
“Hey girl. Count me in,” wrote Hilarie Burton. “Burn it down, sis. Love your bravery. I back your play 100%. Let’s talk.”
Late Monday, the entire female cast and crew put out a statement about Schwahn.
All of the female cast members of One Tree Hill have chosen this forum to stand together in support of Audrey Wauchope and one another. To use terminology that has become familiar as thesystemic reality of sexual harassment and assault has come more and more to light, Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an “open secret.” Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.
The through line in all of this was, and still is, our unwavering support of and faith in one another. We confided in each other. We set up safe spaces to talk about his behavior and how to handle it. To warn new women who joined our ranks. We understood that a lot of it was orchestrated in ways that kept it out of sight for the studio back home. We also understood that no one was fully unaware. The lack of action that has been routine, the turning of the other cheek, is intolerable. We collectively want to echo the calls of women everywhere that vehemently demand change, in all industries.
Many of us were told, during filming, that coming forward to talk about this culture would result in our show being canceled and hundreds of lovely, qualified, hard-working, and talented people losing their jobs. This is not an appropriate amount of pressure to put on young girls. Many of us since have stayed silent publicly but had very open channels of communication in our friend group and in our industry, because we want Tree Hill to remain the place “where everything’s better and everything’s safe” for our fans; some of whom have said that the show quite literally saved their lives. But the reality is, no space is safe when it has an underlying and infectious cancer. We have worked at taking our power back, making the conventions our own, and relishing in the good memories. But there is more work to be done.
Several of the female show stars, including Hilarie Burton, reached out to Wauchope in support.
We are all deeply grateful for Audrey’s courage. For one another. And for every male cast mate and crew member who has reached out to our group of women to offer their support these last few days. They echo the greater rallying cry that must lead us to change: Believe Women. We are all in this together.
The letter was signed by Bush, Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Danneel Harris, Michaela McManus, Kate Voegele, Daphne Zuniga, India DeBeaufort, Bevin Prince, Jana Kramer, Shantel Van Santen, Allison Munn and members of the crew, including Wauchope and Specter.
Schwahn currently serves as showrunner on the E! drama “The Royals,” which is going into its fourth season.
E! told Us Weekly that they are “monitoring the information carefully.”
“E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television are committed to providing a safe working environment in which everyone is treated respectfully and professionally,” the network said in a statement.