Audrey Wauchope, a writer on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, took to Twitter on Saturday, November 11, to recall an experience she and her writing partner, Rachel Specter, went through with a showrunner during her first writing job. While she did not name Mark Schwahn, the creator of One Tree Hill, multiple stars of The CW drama have also now spoken out and E! has given a statement to Us Weekly.
“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 started her thread.
“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,” she continued. “Moving on. The staff sat on couches. Female writers would try to get the spot where the showrunner wouldn’t sit as to not be touched. Often men would help out by sitting next to him, thus protecting the women.”
She went on to say that sometimes the showrunner would “squeeze his disgusting body in between us and put his arms around us, grinning,” as well as give massages to actors and writers and pet their hair. “I know he did more but not to me so they’re not my stories to share,” she added.
“Ever since then I just state ‘I don’t like to be touched.’ This often makes me sound angry or not warm/ It’s just that I don’t know anther way to make it clear I don’t enjoy your unwanted touch,” 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. The day before my writing partner left for her wedding he closed the door of his office and asked her if she really wanted to go through with it. Maybe he could have a shot? Hahahaha we said. That’s crazy. He’s crazy. NO. He’s abusive. 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. 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.”
And we’ve BEEN triggered. Here for, and with, you 110%
— Sophia Bush Hughes (@SophiaBush) November 13, 2017
She also claimed that the studio lawyers came in to give a sexual harassment seminar and many people on staff planned on asking specific questions with him in the room. However, he didn’t show up.
“That’s right. The show runner did not attend the mandatory sexual harassment meeting. I don’t blame the studio, I doubt they knew. I blame a system that allows one person to have so much power they can do whatever they want,” she wrote. “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. 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.”
Again, Wauchope did not name the show or Schwahn, who was, in fact, the showrunner, but following her thread, she tweeted, “In the absence of a name I don’t want to implicate the good ones. The men of Cougartown are aces.” She and Spector have only worked on Cougartown and One Tree Hill together before Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Then stars of One Tree Hill began chiming in.
Sophia Bush, who starred on the show for the full nine seasons, wrote, “For the record. I stand with Audrey. @audreyalison #BurnItDownSis. And to the bad guys? Yeah. #F—kYourSorry cc @HilarieBurton.” She also seemingly has a story of her own to share, writing, “I have the courage. I’m just taking a tip from Uma Thurman and waiting for my rage to burn off a little bit before I choose to share more than a few words. Thank you for the support.”
Hilarie Burton, who played Bush’s best friend on the show, tweeted at Wauchope as well, writing, “Hey girl. Count me in. Burn it down, sis. Love your bravery. I back your play 100%. Let’s talk. Xo.” She also retweeted Bush’s message.
I chose my words carefully. Xo
— Hilarie Burton Morgan (@HilarieBurton) November 13, 2017
Later on, a fan noticed that when Burton took part in the “#MeToo” campaign following the Harvey Weinstein allegations, she wrote, “It leaves a Mark,” possibly alluding to Schwahn. She responded to that tweet with, “I chose my words carefully. Xo.”
Meanwhile, Bethany Joy Lenz, who starred as Haley, tweeted, “Thank you @audreyalison.”
This is how women do things. This. Side by side by side by side. This shit ends here.
— Audrey Wauchope Lieberstein (@audreyalison) November 13, 2017
Kate Voegele, who starred on the show briefly and went on to pursue a singing career, tweeted “@audreyalison standing with you.” On Monday morning she dropped a teaser for a new song, “#MeToo” all about being silenced. The lyrics include:
“You see here’s the thing, you were so high above me, get me under your thumb / You broke all the rules and told me to hold my tongue / Well you’ve had your fun and I’m officially done playing along / I hope your sinking in your boots wondering when I’m gonna shoot this arrow cuz after all you put me through gotta set the record straight and narrow.”
India de Beaufort, who starred in 12 episodes of OTH also retweeted Bush and Wauchope’s messages, adding in her own allegations.
Didn’t love getting a text from a married show runner in the middle of the night asking me 2come over 2his beach house. He wrote me in2 my underwear. I️ heard he got mad when I got close 2male actors + later told 1 of those actors he wrote me out because of my lack of “loyalty”
— India de Beaufort (@Indiadebeaufort) November 13, 2017
I’d also like to add my husband was standing in video village the day I was in my underwear. One of the producers referred to a male actor on the show and loudly said “ bet *^%#^* wishes he hadn’t mised this”. My husband was standing right there. We get so little respect.
— India de Beaufort (@Indiadebeaufort) November 13, 2017
A publicist for Barbara Alyn Woods, who played Deb Scott on the show, gave Us Weekly the following statement regarding Schwahn: “Barbara does not have any personal experiences to report but sends her support to the women mentioned. The whole situation saddens her immensely.”
One Tree Hill went off the air in 2012. Schwahn went on to create The Royals, a scripted series for E!.
“We are monitoring the information carefully,” an spokesperson for E! said in a statement to Us Weekly. “E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television are committed to providing a safe working environment in which everyone is treated respectfully and professionally.”