Just hours before Netflix employees are scheduled to walkout in protest of Dave Chappelle’s The Closer, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos spoke with Deadline, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter about the criticism the company has received for hosting the special. All of the new interviews were published on Tuesday night. The protest, which is being organized by trans employees, is set to take place on Wednesday.
In his interview with Deadline, Sarandos said he “screwed up the internal communication” in regards to the backlash surrounding the comments Dave Chappelle made about the trans community in The Closer.
“First, right upfront, I screwed up the internal communication — and I don’t mean just mechanically,” Sarandos told Deadline. “I feel I should’ve made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through. I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognized that first.”
Despite the reconciliatory tone regarding the memos he sent out, Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter that his “stance” about The Closer “hasn’t changed.”
The Netflix co-CEO previously sent out two internal messages to the company in which he defended Chappelle and The Closer. “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” he wrote in an email to employees. “As a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone (per our Sensitive Content guidelines).”
When asked about his comments about the special not translating “to real-world harm” by Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, Sarandos responded by saying that his words “landed like a big blanket statement.”
He added, “And the big blanket statement should’ve been, of course storytelling has an impact on the real world — sometimes positive and sometimes negative. That is why I work here, that content actually can make the world a better place through our storytelling, through onscreen representation and all those things. So it was a gross simplification.”