Following the sexual misconduct allegations that have come to light in Hollywood, from Bill Cosby to Harvey Weinstein, studios and distributors have now decided to include a morality clause in their contracts.
What's moral turpitude? Well, simply put, a concept that showbiz talent soon will be well-acquainted with. The term, which means "an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community," is popping up in contracts of actors and filmmakers in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
According to Hollywood Reporter, Fox is just one of the studios that is reportedly trying to insert broad morality clauses into its talent deals, giving it the ability to terminate any contract "if the talent engages in conduct that results in adverse publicity or notoriety or risks bringing the talent into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule."
In recent months, productions houses have faced huge losses dealing with the aftermath of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct allegations and cases. For example, it apparently cost $10 million to replace Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World. And even though Spacey was ousted from the sixth season of his show, House of Cards, Netflix still had to pay his salary.
Netflix’s chief finance officer, David Wells, cast a light on the need for such protection in a January earnings call, saying his company took a $39 million write-down due to “the societal reset around sexual harassment.”
Entertainment lawyer Schuyler Moore is among those who have started using the clause to protect clients from similar fates. “Any distributor can say, ‘I’m not picking up this film if somebody involved in the film has some charge like that,’” revealed Moore..
Not all lawyers are on the same page though.
“I’m all for [#MeToo]. I totally support it. But I think [broad morality clauses] create a bad precedent,” attorney Linda Lichter told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s one thing to say someone is a criminal. It’s another thing to say someone has been accused by someone and you can fire them and not pay them.”