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‘I Screwed Up’: Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Addresses Dave Chappelle Fallout

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos is speaking out over continued criticism of the Dave Chappelle comedy special “The Closer.”

On the eve of a planned employee walkout at the streaming giant — organized by trans and LGBTQ+ staffers, content creators and allies — Sarandos addressed numerous points related to recent jokes from Chappelle that have incensed the trans community and been labeled as harmful.

The events around “The Closer” have represented a rare blunder for Sarandos and Netflix, whose deep pockets and warm relationships with talent have been transformative for the global entertainment sector for close to a decade. In our conversation, he admits up front that he “screwed up” in the handling of employee concerns, and talks more specifically about what the company does and does not consider hate speech.

Read Sarandos’ Tuesday Q&A with Variety:

[quote] Do you have any regrets about how this process was handled, especially in your internal communication with employees?

Ted Sarandos: Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication. I did that, and I screwed it up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that. That was uncharacteristic for me, and it was moving fast and we were trying to answer some really specific questions that were floating. We landed with some things that were much more blanket and matter-of-fact that are not at all accurate.

Of course storytelling has real impact in the real world. I reiterate that because it’s why I work here, it’s why we do what we do. That impact can be hugely positive, and it can be quite negative. So, I would have been better in that communication. They were joining a conversation already in progress, but out of context. But that happens, internal emails go out. In all my communications I should lean into the humanity up front and not make a blanket statement that could land very differently than it was intended.

[quote] What is the protocol for defining hate speech at Netflix? What crosses the line and what doesn’t?

We are trying to support creative freedom and artistic expression among the artists that work at Netflix. Sometimes, and we do make sure our employees understand this, because of that — because we’re trying to entertain the world, and the world is made up of folks with a lot of different sensibilities and beliefs and senses of humor and all those things — sometimes, there will be things on Netflix that you dislike. That you even find to be harmful. Where we’ll definitely draw the line is on something that would intentionally call for physically harming other people or even remove protections. For me, intent to cause physical harm crosses the line, for sure.

[quote] Have you spoken to Dave Chappelle since this went down?

I know he’s been doing some COVID tour dates in Europe, so I’ve only touched based a few times.

[quote] Have the contents of those conversations been at all about the special or the employees of Netflix?

No. I would generally say he was appreciative of supporting the show and his ability to do his act.

[quote] I want to circle back and ask definitively, do you personally and does Netflix feel that “The Closer” does not amount to hate speech?

Under the definition of “does it intend to cause physical harm?” I do not believe it falls into hate speech.

[quote] So the special will remain on the service?

I don’t believe there have been many calls to remove it.

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by Anonymousreply 42October 24, 2021 5:31 PM

[quote] For the walk out tomorrow, there is a list of “firm asks” from trans employees to rectify this situation. Where are you at in hearing them out, and is anything emerging as a priority in the addressing the “pain” of some employees, as you put it?

I’ve spent the past couple of days listening to folks and sitting down with folks, about where they’re at and how they’re feeling and what they’d like to see moving forward. I’m continuing to do that now. One of the things that I think is very important that I want people to understand is that, going forward, it should be really clear that I support artistic freedom and the creators that work at Netflix. I’m committed to continuing to increase representation on screen and behind the camera, and I’m always open to learn and improve on how to address these challenges.

[quote] Is there anything more specifically actionable from the list of requests — like a call for a new trans and nonbinary talent fund be created?

We have a creative equity fund that we’ve heavily invested in exactly the things I believe they are asking about. We have and continue to invest enormous amounts of content dollars in LGBTQ+ stories for the world and giving them a global platform. Specifically, trans and non-binary content as well. That’s obviously continued strong, and I think we’ll continue on that path. What’s important to remember is that we’ve got incredible growth in our employee base, and a lot of people have joined during COVID and have never met anyone from Netflix. It’s very tough to understand company history, knowing where we’re at, what we do, and what kind of folks we are. We’ve got to take this opportunity to make sure that they know we are with them and creating this content to spread around the world and creating a great workplace for diverse and marginalized populations. We’re firmly committed to it.

[quote] Part of Netflix’s success story is its relationships with talent. Have you had feedback from your creators under overall deals, one-off projects or anyone outside of Netflix but in the creative community?

Yes, in the normal course of talking to folks all the time, they are all curious about these situations. There are some folks who really appreciate the artistic freedom part, and I think they wrestle with some things as well. But yes, I’ve had lots of conversations with our creators in and out of the comedy space.

by Anonymousreply 1October 20, 2021 3:14 PM

Who's the fattie?

by Anonymousreply 2October 20, 2021 3:16 PM

Good for Sarandos.

Don't give in to their demands!

by Anonymousreply 3October 20, 2021 3:17 PM

I am very cynical about this. It has everything to do with money. If it was a small fry actor or comedian whose head was on the chopping block, then he'd be jumping on the BAN VAN. But it's Chappelle, one. of the most beloved comedians of all time. so he's talking mealy mouthed about artistic expression even though he doesn't really give a shit about higher morals, freedom of expression, and whatnot. He seems to go where the wind (money) is flowing.

by Anonymousreply 4October 20, 2021 3:22 PM

I just hope that more companies stand firm, and don't cave in to the trans-agenda.

We're sick and tired of their demands.

by Anonymousreply 5October 20, 2021 3:24 PM

A hard nosed "fuck off" would have driven home the point. His statement will not keep this from happening again.

by Anonymousreply 6October 20, 2021 3:30 PM

If I understand, all he really said was only bio females can push out crotch fruit. I get it - call yourself whatever you want, but you require special plumbing to incubate and birth a baby. People born with male plumbing can’t do that - it’s a fact.

by Anonymousreply 7October 20, 2021 3:33 PM

Chappelle doesn't just go after trans -- he goes after gays as well. With intensity and venom.

I don't get it -- normally when someone attacks gays as much as Chappelle does, DL goes after them. But in this case, because Chapelle attacked trans more than gays, somehow DL supports him.

Myself, I think the trans movement is out of control in many ways but still.... is DL so anti-trans it's willing to support homophobia?

by Anonymousreply 8October 20, 2021 3:34 PM

Why is no one standing up to the trans lobby?

What sort of influence is it exerting to make people cave so quickly?

Who is behind it and what is their agenda?

by Anonymousreply 9October 20, 2021 3:37 PM

He goes after lots of people Jonathan/Jessica.

by Anonymousreply 10October 20, 2021 3:37 PM

What does he say about gays?

by Anonymousreply 11October 20, 2021 3:38 PM

[quote] Chappelle doesn't just go after trans -- he goes after gays as well. With intensity and venom.

He “goes after” black men, too. With intensity [gasp] and venom [passes out].

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by Anonymousreply 12October 20, 2021 3:43 PM

He doesn’t say anything “homophobic”. Jesus Christ.

by Anonymousreply 13October 20, 2021 3:47 PM

I found this co-CEO guy to be insincere. When he says he "talked to folks" -- that sounds like rubbish PR. Yeah, let's make it all warm and folksy. Doing the noble thing sometimes means NOT placing profits ahead of everything else. I see no real insight, certainly no sacrifice, and no acknowledgement of the hurt Chappelle's words may have caused. He might not think it meets the definitition of "hate speech," but how do we know whose behavior will be affected by Chappelle's "humor." Fail.

by Anonymousreply 14October 20, 2021 3:56 PM

Enough, R14. Chappelle didn’t hurt anyone except the mentally/emotionally unstable who would be hurt by absolutely every “ microaggression” (real or imagined) all day, every day.

The co-CEO had nothing to apologize for and I’m glad he’s sticking to his guns.

by Anonymousreply 15October 20, 2021 3:59 PM

R8 DL is full of straight women who don't give a shit about gay men other than seeing us as accessories to their 'fabulous' lives.

by Anonymousreply 16October 20, 2021 4:03 PM

Wrong, R16.

by Anonymousreply 17October 20, 2021 4:06 PM

How many people here defending Chappelle forgot how he loved calling us faggots?

He claims to have had a meeting with Netflix where thy asked him to stop saying that and when he asked why he can say nigger but not faggot he was told because he's not gay. He claims that he responded that he's not a nigger either.


Dave Cappelle is no friend of gay people, especially white gay people. He's been pissed off at us ever since equal marriage came into law.

by Anonymousreply 18October 20, 2021 4:17 PM

Don’t care, R18.

How many people are offended by the word ‘queer’, which is a slur but is somehow accepted by large swaths of gay people, and used by our “allies”, and by the media, and academia, and other institutions?

If ‘queer’ isn’t a slur (and according to some on DL, it hasn’t been since the 80s), then why should ‘faggot’ upset anyone?

by Anonymousreply 19October 20, 2021 4:28 PM

[quote]If ‘queer’ isn’t a slur then why should ‘faggot’ upset anyone?

I'll let you try and figure that one out for yourself, imbecile.

by Anonymousreply 20October 20, 2021 4:37 PM

Putting R19 on ignore shows he's a Chappelle apologist.

by Anonymousreply 21October 20, 2021 4:39 PM

Apologist? More like a Chappelle FAN. Go ahead and ignore me, though. I’ll return the favor.

by Anonymousreply 22October 20, 2021 4:41 PM

So many trolls here. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

by Anonymousreply 23October 20, 2021 4:41 PM

[quote]Apologist? More like a Chappelle FAN.


Chappelle could dig up Matthew Shepard and shit down his throat and you'd be here telling what a genius he is and how we shouldn't be offended.

I have no idea what you are--white, black, gay, straight, male, female. But you clearly have issues with yourself and the gay community.

by Anonymousreply 24October 20, 2021 4:44 PM

The fucking loony trans activist fringe has to get over itself.

No one remotely sane on here or on Netflix or Twitter is calling for trans to be harassed or killed or beaten up or robbed of their dignity or anything. Call yourself whatever you like. You want to be called Davina and not Dave? Sure I'll go for that. You want to live your best authentic life? Absolutely - go knock yourselves about.

But for the millionth time, pointing out that trans people are not in actual fact the opposite sex that they desire be is not violence, literal or metaphorical. It's just the fucking truth.

by Anonymousreply 25October 20, 2021 4:53 PM

Amen, R25.

by Anonymousreply 26October 20, 2021 4:54 PM

[quote] I am very cynical about this. It has everything to do with money. If it was a small fry actor or comedian whose head was on the chopping block, then he'd be jumping on the BAN VAN. But it's Chappelle, one. of the most beloved comedians of all time. so he's talking mealy mouthed about artistic expression even though he doesn't really give a shit about higher morals, freedom of expression, and whatnot. He seems to go where the wind (money) is flowing.

Congratulations, little guy, you've learned today that businesses are there to generate profit and not massage egos.

This will backfire . They'll make some terrible trans nonbinary shit and will simply no work with anyone who threatened to walk out.

The names are already circulating, the power trip will cost these pathetic creators their careers.

I wonder if Ryan Murphy has weighted in and that ungrateful trans that got a 3 million deal.

by Anonymousreply 27October 20, 2021 5:15 PM

Brava, Mr. Sarandos!

by Anonymousreply 28October 20, 2021 10:49 PM
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by Anonymousreply 29October 21, 2021 5:52 PM

This is why Black folks are going to stay home instead of voting in next year's midterms.

by Anonymousreply 30October 21, 2021 6:02 PM

The trans issues is TEARING US APART!

It's so simple: Let's not allow that to happen. Let T do their own thing.

If they want to try and cancel Dave? Cool. If we want to try and cancel him? Cool. But don't lump us together. We clearly have very, very different fights, desires, and reasons to feel victimized.

If you're gay and feel like a T ally? Great. If you gay and don't feel like an ally? That's great too. Good cases can be made for both viewpoints. But let's not let that distract from gay driven rights, interests and goals.

by Anonymousreply 31October 21, 2021 6:09 PM

There is a grapevine, and there are going to be factions. Production companies do not want troublemakers working for them, period. Maybe some of the walkout people will find their way to a company that thinks that virtue-signaling will make them some money. But most corporations get rid of the people who even threaten litigation. Or they give them what they want in the short run and when there’s a merger or layoffs, those troublesome sorts are the first to go.

That’s how the world works.

by Anonymousreply 32October 21, 2021 6:22 PM

Is he related to Susan Sarandos?

by Anonymousreply 33October 21, 2021 6:52 PM

Even Dan Levy has burned his bridge by siding with them against Netflix, I wonder what will happen. Still not a pip from Ryan, he knows better.

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by Anonymousreply 34October 22, 2021 8:17 PM

Netflix threw a lot of money at Chappelle. They are trying to get their money worth. Including the controversy.

Chappelle is one of those angry stand-ups who do angry stand up. He's basically a "get off my fucking lawn, bitch!" grump. Not my kind of entertainment.

Love how Hannah Gadsby teared the Netflix guy a new one on social media for dragging her into his shit.

by Anonymousreply 35October 22, 2021 8:52 PM

Re: R29… did that youtuber actually read the interview?

by Anonymousreply 36October 22, 2021 8:54 PM

R34 and he turned off his comments. Real brave.

by Anonymousreply 37October 22, 2021 9:59 PM

r37, Why should he give trolls the opportunity to use his social media for trolling? It's his social media account.

by Anonymousreply 38October 22, 2021 10:03 PM

R38 Not everyone who disagrees is a troll

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by Anonymousreply 39October 24, 2021 9:29 AM

[quote] Not everyone who disagrees is a troll.

It comes with the territory. When you are on the same side as the trolls, then that's your burden to carry.

by Anonymousreply 40October 24, 2021 9:34 AM

The woke mob will destroy the US.

by Anonymousreply 41October 24, 2021 11:57 AM

Still waiting Ryan Murphy, the father of current trans shows. Not a word. That guy is smarter than most think. I'd do the same if I were him. Has Joey Soloway nonbinary parent of the first trans show weighted in?

by Anonymousreply 42October 24, 2021 5:31 PM
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