For 24 seasons, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has drawn viewers into case after case after disturbing case.
But the on-screen drama is nothing compared to what goes on behind the scenes of the NBC Juggernaut, the longest-running prime-time live-action series in history.
In June, SVU showrunner David Graziano was accused of being abusive toward script coordinator Hayley Cameron, prompting her departure from the series, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“David Graziano is very unprofessional, selfish and immature. “I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I’ve never experienced such a pure, white-male woman,” Cameron said in a note on a list circulated among script coordinators.
Describing Graziano’s production, also known as Graz, as an ‘absolute disorganized nightmare’, she added: ‘I urge you, especially women, to think twice before putting yourself in the same bad situation as I was. »
Alafire Hall, Graziano’s spokesman, denied Cameron’s claims in a statement to the Times.
“The allegation that Mr. Graziano created a hostile work environment or was sexist, inappropriate and unprofessional is false,” he said.
It’s not the first time the showrunner has been accused of workplace misconduct, from bullying to sexual harassment. The allegations trail Graziano’s resume, which includes previous stints on USA Network’s “In Plain Sight,” Fox’s “Lie to Me” and CBS All Access’s “Coyote.”
“Graz is very toxic and I have never run away from work so quickly in my life [worked] for that. Stay away,” wrote Amy Hartman, Graziano’s script coordinator for “Coyote,” according to Cameron’s post.
“Every day I was in fight or flight,” Hartman told the Times. “I’m really impressed that he’s up and running again [‘SVU’].”
While Graziano admitted in a statement that Coyote was a “difficult person to work with,” he refused to make inappropriate comments about women or people of color.
While working on Lie to Me , Graziano became angry with the junior writer over a casting decision, according to two people who were present and a third show employee who heard about it the next day. “He fired him on the spot, saying ‘pack your things and get the f–k out,'” one of them recalled.
Hall, however, disputed the record, saying Graziano “an unruly employee loudly told the writer to leave the room.”
Meanwhile, Graziano, the male writer on Lie to Me , revealed that he “talks in the writers’ room about how to hit on women and how to do it.”
A former assistant who worked for Graziano, who asked not to be named, said Graziano “talked about women’s bodies and what he wanted to do with them” and joked about “wanting to hook up.” me”.
When the former assistant worked as a full-time nanny for Graziano’s twins, she threw him a pair of jeans and demanded he buy five more pairs.
“Mr. Graziano never threw an object at an employee,” Hall said in a statement.
But it wasn’t just women who accused Graziano of creating a toxic work environment.
David James, who worked as script coordinator on Coyote, described it as “the worst job in Hollywood”.
“People always needed a moment,” James recalled. “He cried a lot in the office; it was everyday.”
Paloma Lamb, who was a production assistant for the writers on “Coyote,” said Graziano would even get upset about getting his dinner orders wrong. “If his tortilla chips were wrong, he would be furious,” she said. Plus, Lamb added, “He was always commenting on women’s looks.”
Describing the Coyote culture during Graziano’s time as “a very masculine workplace,” one writer said he “had more freedom to bounce ideas around with female writers than with male writers.”
But Hall is “Mr. Graziano vehemently denies disparaging, insulting, or denying women writers.”
And former TV writer Jessica Butler, who worked with Graziano on “In Sight,” told the Times, “I’ve never had a bad experience with him.” Still, she added, “I don’t want to say anything to diminish other women’s experiences.”