Friday, October 31, 2008

Women, power and diplomacy

Sarah, Katie, Tina, Rachel, may be dominating the TV screen lately. But Lauren Zalaznick behind the camera has determined a lot of the non-political stuff we’ve been watching lately.

Within this fascinating profile, an excerpt on how she handled a somewhat awkward situation:

In 2000, when Zalaznick was still working at VH1, she and Bailey and Randy Barbato had a public contretemps that many thought would sever their collaboration. Barbato accidentally sent Zalaznick an e-mail message that he intended for Bailey. In the e-mail, he complained that Zalaznick was trying to get rid of their writers’ credits and suggested she was controlling and overcritical of him. Most infamous, he referred to her using a crude epithet, probably the crudest one reserved for women.

Zalaznick’s response was telling. She neither laughed it off nor fired anyone. Instead, a few weeks later, she wrote an essay about the experience and published it on a literary Web site called Open Letters. The essay is a thoughtful, brutally honest meditation on the expectations of a woman in power. “I’m probably regarded as being tough, fairly hardhearted, outspoken,” she wrote. “I am occasionally criticized for digging in and being less accommodating to other people’s ideas and criticisms than I ‘should be.’ But this is a weird sort of (double) standard to be held to, especially in a ‘creative’ job where passions are usually what get ideas heard.”

She didn’t soften any of the rough edges of the experience. She didn’t even try to soften her own edges. Explaining her reasoning about whether to sever the relationship, she wrote, “In the end in this business, it’s all a matter of who needs who the most.” You can only give someone the kiss-off for good, she went on, “if you really, truly, never need that person again, and you can never really be certain of that. One Emmy Award and we’d be begging to be back in business with them.”


Post a Comment

<< Home