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‘Umbrella Academy’ showrunner accused of “toxic” behaviour

July 1st, 2024

A co-creator of The Umbrella Academy has been accused of “toxic” behaviour while working on the hit Netflix drama.

Steve Blackman, co-creator of the show, has been accused af “toxic, bullying, manipulative and retaliatory behaviour” while working on the series by 12 former writers and support staffers on the show according to a report in Rolling Stone. One of the complaints include a female writing team whose contracts were abruptly ended.

Other allegations made by former writers and staffers according to the report in Rolling Stone was a demand for “unwavering loyalty” with several claiming he would reduce roles or terminate the contracts of staff who disagreed with him. As well as this, some claimed he used sexist, lewd, and disparaging comment.

Responding to the accusations, a spokesman told Rolling Stone that he worked with a Human Resources department to ensure the women’s contracts were concluded “in full compliance with all policies and regulations.” They added that the decision was “solely based on performance and budget.” He has also denied any other allegations of retaliation.

Blackman also was further accused of comments that sources said were found to be sexist, homophobic, and transphobic.

In text messages seen by Rolling Stone provided to Human Resources as part of the initial 2023 complaint, Blackman allegedly wrote to an unnamed recipient, “Elliot [Page] wants to come out as trans on the show. As Ivan. Oh my f—king God. Kill me now.”

Page came out publicly via a written note in December 2020.

A representative for Blackman told Rolling Stone he was initially hesitant about the request because season three scripts written and would require much work to rewrite. They further added his reaction was not meant to show that he did not support Page.

Blackman had spoken out about it previously, telling TVLine he felt Page’s storyline was “very important” to include. He said at the time: “We wanted to tell a story that was really pro-trans, authentic, sensitive, and show that families can accept trans people in their lives, and it does not have to be a negative thing, as it’s often portrayed in the media.

Page had also previously praised the way the show dealt with his transition, saying: “one of the most special things about this is how it’s handled.”

Elliot Page in ‘The Umbrella Academy’. CREDIT: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

The producer of the show, Universal Content Productions, launched an investigation into the allegations in 2023. According to Rolling Stone, they could only substantiate that Blackman had made “inappropriate and unprofessional remarks” and used “foul and derogatory language”.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Blackman’s spokesperson added: “Over six years and four seasons overseeing thousands of crew, actors, and writers, Steve Blackman led The Umbrella Academy to become a beloved series with devoted fans, enthralling stories, and a dedicated team making it all possible

“These allegations from a handful of disgruntled employees are completely false and outrageous, and in no way reflect the collaborative, respectful, and successful working environment Mr. Blackman has cultivated.”

NME has reached out to UCP and Netflix for comment.

The fourth season of The Umbrella Academy, which is also its last, will premiere on Netflix on August 8.

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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