Former Amazon Studios Chief Roy Price on His Downfall: 'That Was Not a Good Week to Have a Bad Article'

Former Amazon Studios chief Roy Price
(Image credit: Amazon)

More than four years after his abrupt resignation amid a sexual harassment scandal, former Amazon Studios chief Roy Price publicly remarked on the damning expose that forced his ouster.

As Price sees it, his exile has more to do with timing than anything else. 

Speaking to Bloomberg for a podcast detailing the rise of Amazon Studios and the broader Amazon Prime Video empire, Price seemed to indicate that the gravity of his career crisis was influenced by its proximity to the zeitgeist-shifting Harvey Weinstein scandal. 

Writer Kim Masters' expose on Price's ill-fated 2015 interaction with producer Isa Hackett was published on October 12, 2017, the same week that the New York Times and New Yorker published separate stories that not only destroyed the career of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and led to his criminal prosecution and imprisonment, but also spawned the global #MeToo movement.

Amazon's investigation of the 2015 Price-Hackett event, which was reported immediately to Amazon higher-ups by Hackett and originally detailed in an August 2017 report in The Information, came to an indefinite conclusion. However, Price said the timing of Masters' THR report -- which came out two months later, right as the Weinstein reports hit -- was too much for the seminal Amazon video executive to overcome.

"That was not a good week to have a bad article," said Price, 55, who has not worked since leaving Amazon. 

Certainly for Price, timing couldn't have been everything. 

Hackett, the married executive producer of Amazon original series Man in a High Castle, claimed Price made unwanted and lewd overtures to her in an Uber ride to a 2015 pilot screening event at ComicCon in San Diego. 

Commenting publicly for one of the few times since his departure, Price doesn't dispute the interaction occurred, but claims he wasn't coming onto the producer, merely engaging in a self-deprecating joke that was misunderstood. 

"It was obviously unfortunate and unintended," Price told Bloomberg, conceding there was "banter in the Uber" amid the "very short" 1 a.m. ride that also included another Amazon employee. 

"I deeply apologize if the banter was overboard," Price added. "Everyone has the right to define their own line of humor..."

The son of Frank Price, who served as chairman of Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures, the Hackett event wasn't the only socially awkward, sexually charged moment tied to Price during his 13-year tenure as Amazon's first video exec. 

Price hasn't given many interviews since his departure. But in November 2020, he told the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't looking to "elicit sympathy," but he doesn't think his #MeToo transgressions rise to the level of Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K. and former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly. 

”I just didn’t believe that, like, a false, vicious, totally contrary-to-fact narrative like that could be articulated, that it could actually be accepted and impact your reputation and all of your friends and family,” Price told the L.A. Times. “It just seemed like such a bizarre set of circumstances out of some Russian novel.”

The L.A. Times also spoke to unnamed Amazon co-workers who said the "punishment didn't fit the crime," and who also implied that Price's firing was influenced by "internal and external pressures" occurring at Amazon in 2017.

Masters' report detailed broader cultural issues under Price. And there was plenty fo circumstantial smoke tied to his Amazon exit. Not only did Amazon Studios under the former top executive's watch sign a multiyear deal with another noted #MeToo transgressor, Woody Allen, two of the biggest stars for two of Amazon Studios' seminal hits, Casey Affleck (Oscar contender Manchester By the Sea) and Jeffrey Tambor (original series Transparent), ended up under on-set sexual harassment scrutiny, as well. 

However, as Bloomberg noted, at the time of Price's ouster, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos -- enthralled and absorbed by the Hollywood industry he'd originally sought to disrupt and unseat -- was putting Price under pressure, seeking to broaden the reach of Amazon Studios beyond niche, artist-driven shows like Transparent into globally impactful hits. 

"Over time, your audience gets bigger as your service grows around the world. And you really need some tentpole shows," Price told Bloomberg. "So you've got to have, whatever it is, your Game of Thrones." 

Bezos even told Price at a meeting, "Bring me my Game of Thrones." ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!