Can Amazon save 'Transparent?'

Jeffrey Tambor accused of harassment
Jeffrey Tambor accused of harassment


    Jeffrey Tambor accused of harassment


Jeffrey Tambor accused of harassment 01:09

(CNN)"Transparent" could be on the verge of a transformation.

Jeffrey Tambor, 73, has been accused of sexual harassment by two people who have worked with him on the series that solidified Amazon's place among the streaming elite.
The company is reportedly investigating the alleged misconduct.
On Sunday, Tambor issued a statement saying the allegations are "simply and utterly untrue" and called into question his continuation on the series, signaling that he may step away from his lauded role.
    "Playing Maura Pfefferman on 'Transparent' has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life," Tambor said in his statement. "What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago."
    Since 2014, Tambor has played Maura Pfefferman, a father who comes out as transgender to his wife and children.
    Trace Lysette, an actress on the series, is one of Tambor's accusers.
    In a statement posted to social media last week, Lysette accused Tambor of making sexual advances and comments.
    Lysette, who is transgender, called on Amazon to keep the show on the air despite her allegations against Tambor.
    "Don't let the trans community suffer for the actions of one cis [a person who identifies with the gender assigned to them at birth] male actor," her statement said.
    "Transparent" was renewed for a fifth season by Amazon in August. But the show's once certain future is now in question.
    Amazon Studios did not respond to questions on Monday and previously declined to comment.

    A future without Tambor?

    The allegations against Tambor come as Hollywood is experiencing a reckoning and awakening of sorts.
    Since October, when film mogul Harvey Weinstein was the subject of investigative reports about his alleged history of sexual misconduct, several other prominent entertainment industry figures have faced allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
    Through a spokeswoman, Weinstein has repeatedly denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.
    Amazon Studio's now-former chief Roy Price resigned in mid-October after facing allegations of sexual harassment of his own. (Price has not publicly addressed the allegations against him.)
    This moment has been praised as long-due, and it has come with some business consequences.
    FX terminated its overall deal with comedian Louis C.K. after he faced allegations of sexual misconduct earlier this month.
    Louis C.K. has released a statement apologizing for his behavior.
    Over at Netflix, allegations made against Kevin Spacey resulted in the cancellation of his movie "Gore," a biopic about Gore Vidal, on which Spacey was a producer.
    Spacey was first accused of sexual assault by actor Anthony Rapp, who told BuzzFeed about an encounter with Spacey at a party in 1986, during which Spacey made an alleged sexual advance toward the then 14-year-old Rapp.
    Spacey issued a statement claiming he did not recall the incident but apologized for what he said would have been "inappropriate drunken behavior."
    Earlier this month, members of the "House of Cards" production staff further detailed allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, by Spacey in a CNN report.
    Spacey is currently seeking unspecified treatment, according to a statement from his publicist, who has since parted ways with the actor.
    Netflix and "House of Cards" producer Media Rights Capital are in the process of figuring out how to move forward with the sixth and final season of "House of Cards" without Spacey -- a situation not unlike the one Amazon faces now with Tambor.
    Netflix is also home to "Arrested Development," in which Tambor stars. Filming for the upcoming fifth season of that series was completed prior to the allegations against Tambor.
    When reached by CNN, a spokesperson for the streaming network had no comment to questions about whether Tambor would appear as planned on that season.

    A transformative series

    One could argue, however, that "Transparent" is as important, if not more so, to Amazon than "House of Cards" is to Netflix.
    In its first four seasons, "Transparent" has earned praise of lifting the visibility of the transgender community.
    In 2015, one year after "Transparent's" debut, GLAAD's annual "Where We Are On TV" report found of the 271 regular and recurring LGBT characters on scripted broadcast, cable, and streaming programming, only 2.6% were transgender. Two years later, that number had increased to 5%.
    Though not directly responsible for all this growth, "Transparent" is seen as a beacon for the under-served community.
    After "Transparent" won the Golden Globe for best TV comedy or musical in 2015, Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos told CBS News, "Making a show of this quality level is not inexpensive, but it's worth it."
    "It's worth it to our customers, it's worth it to our prime members," Bezos said. "It's worth it to try to bring TV ... into that new golden age, which I think is really happening."
    "Transparent" writer and producer Our Lady J has voiced her support for keeping the series going without Tambor .
    "We cannot let trans content be taken down by a single cis man," she said in a statement posted to social media.
    Tambor's role on the show has not been controversy-free.
    The series arrived just as the industry was beginning to grapple with the morality of non-trans actors in trans roles.
    Tambor acknowledged this debate when he won his second best actor in a comedy series Emmy Award in 2016, using his acceptance speech to call on Hollywood for action.
    "Please give transgender talent a chance, give them auditions, give them their story," he said. "I would not be unhappy if I was the last cisgendered man to play a transgendered woman."
    In 2016, Tambor told NPR that playing Maura Pfefferman was his dream role.
    "When those roles come along, you don't run away," he said. "It's a perfect role, you know? I thought I was gonna do Lear, but I'm gonna do Maura."