Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Former America's Funniest Home Videos employees speak on allegedly predatory work environment

America’s Funniest Videos
America’s Funniest Videos
Image: ABC/Michael Ansell

Per The Hollywood Reporter, three female former employees of ABC tentpole America’s Funniest Home Videos have come forward to allege that the show’s producer, Vin Di Bona Productions, maintained a work environment that was both predatory and hostile. Columbia Crandell, Tunisha Singleton, and Jessica Morse shared details of their individual experiences which were, according to an official complaint filed in 2019, rife with examples of sexual misconduct and racist microaggressions. Previously cloaked under the blanket Jane Roe moniker, this is the first time that any of the women have publicly identified themselves in connection with this case.

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In speaking with THR, Crandall detailed an alleged incident involving her superior, Philip Shafran. According to Crandall, Shafran asked her to test a VR gaming headset in the privacy of his closed office. At one point, he advised her to stand and play the game as he remained seated closeby. “I remember looking down, and then his shoes were right behind my feet. Somehow he has moved from sitting at his desk to being behind me in the corner,” Crandall shares with THR. “I started to panic at that point... I took the headset off and turned to face him... And he had his phone out and he was holding it by his waist, angling it downward. My first thought was, ‘He’s trying to take a picture up my skirt.’”

Singleton, a former senior manager of digital partnerships and business development, claims that a supervisor “decided to call [her] a crack whore and told [her] to stop doing blow in the bathroom and that [she] would never produce anything” in front of her boss, Lisa Black, and a room full of colleagues. Singleton says that Black simply laughed at the remark. A week later, Singleton was fired. The company counters that she was laid off, however the no further individuals were let go at that time and Singleton says that the company was in the middle of hiring.

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Crandall eventually confided in Morse, who then expressed to the company that she did not feel comfortable around Shafran. Black and COO Paul Lapointe confronted Morse during a work event, claiming that the company had already investigated the matter and verified Shafran’s innocence. According to Morse, they then attempted to silence further criticism, stating that she could be “legally responsible” if she were caught saying anything untrue. Morse and Crandall left the company soon after and linked with Singleton to file a civil lawsuit against Vin Di Bona Productions and its digital arm, FishBowl Worldwide Media, for workplace racial and sexual harassment. As of now, the case is still pending. An attorney representing Vin Di Bona responded to THR with the statement, “The physical, emotional and psychological safety of our employees is always our highest priority. When accusations are made, we, like any responsible organization, have an obligation to act swiftly, thoughtfully and respectfully to support the well-being and rights of all parties involved.”

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