Things are not looking good for E!’s Fashion Police, which has been on the air since 2010. In another major scandal to rock the program in a few weeks, co-host Kathy Griffin has exited the program after only 7 episodes. The comedian was brought in to follow in the footsteps of her good friend and mentor Joan Rivers, whose September, 2014 devastated the show. Griffin revealed her departure in a Twitter statement saying in part….
When I chose to step into the shoes of my beloved friend Joan Rivers at Fashion Police, I was thrilled to continue her legacy as a woman being brash and eccentric on television. I am a freedom-loving female and gay rights activist who loves to find the funny in all people, attitudes, beliefs, and appearances, but only when the context permits intelligent humor. I thought I could bring my brand of humor to Fashion Police so that beautiful people in beautiful dresses could be teased when appropriate.
After 7 episodes of Fashion Police, I discovered that my style does not fit with the creative direction of the show & now it’s time to more on.
Co-host Kelly Osbourne exited the show in February after Guiliana Rancic made a racist remark about 19 year-old actress Zendaya Coleman’s appearance at the Academy Awards. In the post-Oscars episode of Fashion Police, Rancic wondered if the actress, whose hair was styled in dreadlocks, “smells like patchouli oil. Or weed! Yeah, maybe weed?” Rancic insists that the line was written for and was delivered during a single take, despite reports that the news presenter repeated the line in multiple takes of the fashion wrap-up.
Rancic’s comments garnered a firestorm for the news anchor with celebs like Viola Davis, Solange Knowles and Kerry Washington coming to the actresses’ defense. Zandaya herself released an elegant statement in support of her chosen hairstyle saying:
and Rancic began the frantic “Mea culpa” media tour.
Osborne supported her pal Zendaya saying, via Twitter:
The lilac-coiffed media personality left the show days later.
The mosting shake-ups on the show just adds to the recent backlash by celebrities by the sexist treatment of female stars by fashion-centric red carpet cameras. At this year’s Oscars, Julianne Moore refused to participate in a Mani-Pedi cam. And Reese Witherspoon’s request to be asked more than “What are you wearing” prompted the Twitter hashtag, #AskHerMore. E!’s treatment of actors, particularly female ones, as fashion commodities and not as artists will ultimately affect the network negatively as more and more A-list stars choose to bypass their red carpet stations and seek out interviewers who actually ask questions about what’s going on in their minds, as opposed to what’s happening on their bodies.
I liked E’s post-awards fashion recaps, though I rarely watched Fashion Police. But, in full disclosure, I worked at E! and actually worked on a countdown special called 101 Sensational Crimes of Fashion where we compiled red-carpet missteps for comedians to pick apart with snarky comments. I admit to gleefully searching E!’s videotape library for footage of celebs in swan dresses and backward suits, but I think it’s another thing to produce a weekly series where even the most mundane fashion blunder is picked about by a snarky firing squad. Windblown hair isn’t a tragedy, neither is wearing workout gear to — Gasp! — work out or having a body that is less than “starvation thin”; neither deserves a torrent of abusive comments from people who unless they were dressed by stylist, would likely we dressed in yoga pants too.
The drama on Fashion Police of course makes for interesting water cooler talk but it seems like there are problems as going on behind the cameras as much as going on in front. In my opinion, the show has too much snark and not enough content. It was fine when Joan made comments about a celebrity’s clothes, that was Joan and daughter Melissa’s long-standing ’s shtick and Joan made fun of herself farm more viciously than she made fun of anyone else. By adding a panel of alleged “Experts” that has included Osbourne, Rancik, George Katsoppolous (who was replaced in January 2015 by stylist Brad Goreski), and featured visits from Khloe Kardashian and other celebrities, it really undermined the relationship that E! has as an entertainment outlet. Especially by having Rancic on the panel, she is not only the network’s news anchor, a role that should be impartial to the material she’s presenting, but she’s also E!’s red carpet host. Who’s going to want to pose for the “360 Degree Glam Cam” if it only serves to provide more footage for the show to make comments?
Is it time for E! to arrest Fashion Police and end it as a weekly series? Is the show “too mean?” Should E! stick to only doing fashion specials around major Awards/ fashion events (i.e. Golden Globes, Academy Awards, MET Costume Gala, Grammys)?