Emmys and #MeToo: ‘Transparent’ Shut Out of Nominations

Lead actor Jeffrey Tambor previously won two Emmys for his role as Maura Pfefferman on Amazon series

Last Updated: July 13, 2018 @ 7:36 AM

In the wake of the #MeToo movement that has rocked Hollywood over the past year, some actors who are usually recurring figures at the Emmy Awards are notably absent from this year’s list of nominations, particularly “Transparent” lead Jeffrey Tambor.

Jeffrey Tambor has been nominated three times and won two Emmys for his role as Maura Pfefferman on “Transparent,” but earned no nominations on Thursday. The Amazon drama and its lead actor have been under scrutiny in recent months after multiple women accused Tambor of sexual harassment.

Amazon launched an investigation last November after accusations surfaced against Tambor by trans actress Van Barnes, who worked as Tambor’s assistant. Shortly after news of the investigation, another trans actress, Trace Lysette, who had a recurring role on “Transparent,” also came forward, accusing Tambor of thrusting himself upon her.

At the time, Tambor denied the accusations, saying “I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator — ever. I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

A third accuser later came forward. Makeup artist Tamara Delbridge said Tambor forcibly kissed her on the set of the 2001 film “Never Again.” At the time, Tambor said in a statement to TheWrap that he had “absolutely no recollection of anything like this incident ever happening.”

“If it did, it wasn’t meant as anything more than an enthusiastic farewell and gratitude for a job well done at the end of a shoot,” he continued. “However, I am deeply sorry for any discomfort or offense I may have inadvertently caused her.”

During that time, Tambor said he didn’t see how he could return to the Emmy-winning Amazon series.

“Playing Maura Pfefferman on ‘Transparent’ has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” he said. “What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago.”

Tambor went on: “I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to ‘Transparent.'”

Amazon announced in February that Tambor would not be returning to the comedy for Season 5. “I have great respect and admiration for Van Barnes and Trace Lysette, whose courage in speaking out about their experience on ‘Transparent’ is an example of the leadership this moment in our culture requires,” said series creator Jill Soloway in a statement to TheWrap about Tambor’s exit.

“We are grateful to the many trans people who have supported our vision for Transparent since its inception and remain heartbroken about the pain and mistrust their experience has generated in our community,” Soloway’s statement continued. “We are taking definitive action to ensure our workplace respects the safety and dignity of every individual, and are taking steps to heal as a family.”

In May, Tambor opened up about his behavior on the show’s set, saying he was “mean” and “difficult,” and would yell at director Jill Soloway, though he denied the accusations of sexual harassment against him.

The series was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2015 and 2016.

But “Transparent” isn’t the only show associated with Tambor accusers. His co-star Jessica Walters on Netflix’s “Arrested Development” told the New York Times in May that she had to “let go of being angry at him.”

“He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever,” she said. “Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go. [Turns to Tambor.] And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.”

Along with other cast mates on “Arrested Development,” Jason Bateman defended Tambor, saying, in part, “certain people have certain processes.” Bateman’s take on the situation sparked backlash, for which the actor later apologized, saying he was “embarrassed” for sounding like he was excusing Tambor. In spite of it, Bateman earned a nomination Thursday for his role as Marty Byrde on another Netflix series, “Ozark.”

A few other notable absences from the Emmy ballot include Louis C.K., who served as executive producer for “Better Things.” Its lead actress Pamela Adlon, however, earned an acting nod. The Kevin Spacey-hosted 71st Annual Tony Awards was nominated in the only category this year to which it submitted: Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special.