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Remember earlier today, when HBO sounded like the most cavalier non-porn entertainment hub in the U.S. after it was reported that the upcoming sci-fi thriller Westworld had some particularly ridiculous stipulations in the contracts for the show’s extras? It’s not every day you read the words “genital-to-genital touching.” As it turns out, though, the network was not actually behind those descriptions, and even though we’ll probably get our fair share of sex scenes in the show, it probably won’t be quite as graphic as we were led to believe.
After all the genital demands hit the fan, HBO started the finger pointing, and the company getting the blame is the network’s extras agency Central Casting, which is responsible for putting together all of the non-major players for the show. Here’s how HBO put it.
The document that the background actors were given was created by an outside extras casting vendor. It was not requested, written or approved by HBO, Warner Bros. Television, or the producers, and contains situations that we do not require of any actor. We are rectifying immediately the discrepancies in this vendor’s document with our actual on-set practices, which provide a professional and comfortable working environment for all performers.
What, being “on all fours while others who are fully nude ride on your back” doesn’t count as a comfortable working environment these days? In all seriousness, if these contractual obligations really are so far off of the mark, it seems likely that HBO would react strongly to Central Casting, either by ending their terms with them or suing them or something. But at this point, the network hasn’t announced how they’ll be moving forward with that partnership.
But just because HBO has not-really-apologized and agreed to rectify the situation, that doesn’t mean it’s totally out of the woods for having its name attached to wearing a pubic hair patch as a job requirement. According to Deadline, SAG-AFTRA is saying that while its members are pleased that HBO has taken at least one step in the right direction, it took far too long for the network to react to the sex act consent form being out there.
Here’s what a SAG-AFTRA spokesman had to say.
SAG-AFTRA sent the consent form to HBO [Tuesday] afternoon and requested that the document be changed to more accurately reflect the contractual provisions. HBO had every opportunity to rectify this situation, and it was only after their direct refusal to remedy this that we posted the notice on our website. The union is very pleased to hear that HBO is doing the right thing now, but it is disappointing that we had to take such public measures to ensure compliance with our contracts and protect our background actors.
That definitely adds an interesting wrinkle to this entire affair, and it seems possible that HBO really didn’t care if this was the list going out to potential extras. After all, if the people agreed to this stuff, they’d agree to anything that Westworld’s creative team asked them to do. What do you guys think?
Based on the Michael Crichton movie and developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld will star Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and many more, and it'll center on an android-filled theme park where everyone's darkest sins can be realized. It's set to premiere in 2016.