New BAFTA chair Sara Putt has reflected upon the events of the past weekend in her first letter to members.
While not addressing Russell Brand – about whom allegations of rape and sexual assault emerged over the weekend – by name, Putt wrote: “This weekend’s news has again raised serious questions about the culture of the screen industries and what still needs to change. BAFTA is supportive of the creation of CIISA, an independent standards authority for those working in the creative industries and I encourage you to find out more about their plans. As a reminder, it is now mandatory for U.K. productions to have a bullying and harassment policy in order to enter our film, games and television Awards, building on principles and guidance on the prevention of bullying and harassment in the workplace as set out here.”
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Putt also addressed the ongoing Hollywood strikes, writing: “Harnessing the talents of our global membership, I want BAFTA to take its place as a thought leader, change creator and convener of debate on what’s important to you. It’s a critical time for freelancers at the moment, following the downturn in commissioning and the far-reaching impact of the U.S. strikes. The risk of losing talent who are not able to withstand this financial insecurity, including those on our talent initiatives such as Elevate, Breakthrough and Connect membership, is profound.”
The chair also welcomed the new deputy chairs of BAFTA – Julie La’Bassiere, from the film committee and Siobhan Reddy from the board of trustees.
La’Bassiere has served as the international awards lead for Apple TV+, across feature film and television series, since 2021. Previously, she handled marketing and awards campaigns at Obscured Pictures for clients including Bleecker Street, Amazon Studios, Focus Features, Magnolia Pictures, Netflix and Roadside Attractions. Prior to Obscured, she was the CEO of BAFTA New York and over the past two decades has worked with FilmBuff, British Council, Los Angeles Film Festival, Tribeca Enterprises, CAA, Film Independent, American Cinematheque, Magus Entertainment and Writers Guild of America West.
Reddy is currently studio director at Media Molecule, which is behind “LittleBigPlanet,” “Tearaway” and the user generated content platform Dreams. Media Molecule is one of a group of sister studios that form PlayStation Studios, which is owned by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Putt said: “Julie La’Bassiere and Siobhan Reddy bring a wealth of experience from the film and games industries and are both brilliant assets to BAFTA. Through their existing work with BAFTA, I know how committed they are to our charitable mission to support, empower and celebrate the screen industries. I look forward to working with them.”
Elsewhere, allegations of Brand’s conduct on Comedy Central U.K.’s “Roast Battle” in 2017 have been addressed by Paramount.
A Paramount spokesperson told Variety: “We are aware of the very serious allegations raised in the investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times and Dispatches. Russell Brand was a presenter on MTV at periods between 2000-2012 and was a panellist on Comedy Central U.K.’s Roast Battle in 2017. We are not currently aware of any reports of misconduct having been raised with MTV or Comedy Central, but if any are brought forward they will be investigated. The welfare of all those working on, or contributing, to our shows is our highest priority and today we have robust duty of care procedures in place on all programs produced for us including confidential whistleblowing lines.”
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