Does Hollywood Punish Women? Kathy Griffin, Rose McGowan and More Claim 'Blacklist'

When communist member Dalton Trumbo wrote his smash hit Exodus in 1960, the "Hollywood blacklist" was declared over. No longer would the entertainment industry deny employment to screenwriters, actors, directors and musicians who allegedly had ties to the communist party. Hollywood now speaks openly about that questionable period in its history, as evidenced by the 2015 Academy Award-nominated biopic Trumbo. But there are rumblings of a new Hollywood blacklist, one used to punish women. 

Kathy Griffin

"If you’ve ever wondered what blacklisting in any industry looks like," Griffin wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, "especially if you're a woman of a certain age, I’ll show you right now." The 56-year-old comedian outlined, with a series of screenshotted emails, how she was invited and then un-invited from delivering the opening remarks at The Hollywood Reporter Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast.

"You are not speaking at it, but you are getting formal invite to go per Matt at HR," her former publicist wrote in an email. "They are very supportive of you and want you to do something at another event, says they completely went overboard and too long w/ people speaking."

Griffin didn't buy the excuse. "I can't help but take this as another occasion where Hollywood is blacklisting a woman and silencing her," she wrote, going on to say she feels her controversial President Donald Trump beheading bit has a lot to do with the snub. She also credits her history of controversial material in the male-dominated comedy industry as the reason she's been held back career-wise.

Controversial Trump jokes seem a minor transgression given how many sexually abusive men Hollywood has forgiven—Harvey Weinstein may have been booted from the Academy, but Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to unlawful sex, won an Oscar in 2002.

Griffin is hardly the only woman seemingly punished for inconsequential behavior, while alleged abusers are rewarded.  

Rose McGowan

10_12_Rose_McGowan_02 Rose McGowan says "HW," presumably Harvey Weinstein, raped her. Shown here, she attends "The Overnight" New York premiere at Sunshine Landmark on June 18, 2015, in New York City. Andrew Toth/Getty Images

In a recorded interview obtained by The Observer from January 2017, McGowan said she was threatened with the blacklist after she reported sexual assault to industry insiders. (She did not name the assailant in the interview and has since become an outspoken Weinstein accuser.) "I was blacklisted after I was raped, because I got raped, because I said something … but only like internally, you know."

Following McGowan's role on the hit show Charmed from 2001 to 2006, the actress has struggled to land a big part. She had a six-episode stint in 2014 on Chosen, which aired via the online streaming service Crackle.

Katherine Heigl

10-17-knocked-up Katherine Heigl once called her 2007 film "a little sexist." Her career suffered the consequences. Universal Pictures

Time and time again, rumors circulate that Heigl is "hard to work with." It all started when, in a 2008 interview with Vanity Fair, Heigl voiced a fairly mild criticism of the sexism in her film Knocked Up, directed by Judd Apatow and co-starring Seth Rogen. This is the quote:

[The movie] was a little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women?

Apatow and Rogen never let that criticism go, and Heigl's hard-to-work-with reputation was born. Allegedly, some studios wouldn't even consider her for roles.

Just last year, Rogen spoke about the so-called controversy on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show. "When I heard afterwards that she didn’t like it, that she seemed to not like the process, and she did not like the end product either, I think when that happens—also your trust feels somewhat betrayed," he said. "I respect the fact that perhaps she realizes that it has hurt her career, and I don't want that to have happened to her at all because I've said a thousand stupid things and I really like her...For other people to not work with her because she didn't like her experience with us is—I think is crazy."

Heigl herself has never commented on the situation since, other than to heap praise on Rogen and Apatow.

Megan Fox

74539101 Megan Fox was not cast in "Transformers 3" after she compared director Michael Bay to Hitler. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The first Transformers movie made Fox a superstar in 2007, yet now she's relegated to featured roles on network sitcoms. Why? She dared to criticize the blockbuster's powerful director, Michael Bay. In an infamous 2009 interview with Wonderland magazine, Fox compared the robot franchise director to Adolf Hitler:

He's like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he's a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all. And it's endearing to watch him.​

In 2010 it was announced that Fox would not star in Transformers 3. Bay later said executive producer Steven Spielberg pushed to fire her following the Hitler comment. While she's had a few films since (like the 2009 horror film Jennifer's Body) her career has never regained momentum.

Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder in Stranger Things Winona Ryder. Curtis Baker/Netflix

Ryder was arrested for shoplifting in 2001 at a Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. What many consider the pettiest of crimes haunted Ryder for years to follow, causing her to go on hiatus from acting until 2005. She recently told Porter Magazine, "It wasn’t like the crime of the century! But it allowed me time that I really needed, where I went back to San Francisco and got back into things." Only recently has Ryder revitalized her career, with a role on the Netflix hit Stranger Things.

Meanwhile, Johnny Depp is accused by Amber Heard of domestic abuse and he is handed a role in the lucrative Fantastic Beasts franchise. Alec Baldwin screams abuse at his daughter in a voicemail but wins an Emmy for Trump impressions. Casey Affleck settles multiple sexual misconduct lawsuits and wins an Oscar. His brother Ben, we recently learned, groped a young actress on camera and he gets to play Batman. Mel Gibson...well, that list is pretty long, but he was nominated for an Oscar for directing 2016's Hacksaw Ridge

The message Hollywood sends to men is boys will be boys. The message to women is, complain or act out in ways we don't like and your career is on the line.