October 24, 2021

Hollywood Media Mogul Sharon Waxman Is a ‘Degrading’ Boss From Hell, TheWrap Staffers Say

14 min read

It’s like a scene from a foul Hollywood film: an worker takes off a number of hours from work to deliver his fiancée to the oncologist for a most cancers check-up, solely to have the tyrannical boss name and curse him out for slacking off.

Solely, in response to one former worker of the leisure and media information website TheWrap, it actually occurred.

“What are you considering?” founder and CEO Sharon Waxman bellowed on the worker within the fall of 2020, he recalled. “Does she not have a mom or a brother or a member of the family that may try this shit for her?”

The ex-staffer, who mentioned he give up on the spot after that “final straw,” is one among 20 present and former TheWrap staffers who spoke to The Every day Beast a couple of poisonous surroundings and tradition of concern on the extremely influential outlet.

They mentioned Waxman—who was a overseas correspondent, a New York Occasions columnist, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and a feared Hollywood reporter earlier than beginning TheWrap in 2009—has pushed out one staffer after one other and left present workers on the lookout for their exits. A majority of the previous workers who spoke with The Every day Beast had left the corporate throughout the previous two years.

One former staffer in contrast Waxman’s habits to an infamously ruthless fictional boss. “It was very The Satan Wears Prada. It was actually demoralizing and degrading. I must emotionally shut down and smile and nod,” the ex-employee mentioned, referring to the character Miranda Priestly, the tyrannical journal editor portrayed by Meryl Streep in an Oscar-nominated flip.

Those that spoke with The Every day Beast alleged that Waxman has usually had screaming outbursts at workers, engaged in demeaning habits, and berated workers for coping with household emergencies throughout work hours, together with threatening one staffer for working from dwelling to care for his or her injured youngster.

“I’ve been round CEOs and politicians and like, truly essential highly effective folks, and people who needs to be scary, like prisoners, and he or she is the scariest individual I’ve ever met,” one former TheWrap author mentioned of Waxman.

The state of affairs, sources acquainted mentioned, has been made extra irritating by the truth that Waxman’s ex-husband serves as TheWrap’s human-resources division, leaving some workers feeling as if they don’t have any protected place to show. Staffers previous and current who spoke with The Every day Beast did so on the situation of anonymity fearing skilled or authorized reprisals.

After The Every day Beast started conversations with TheWrap’s publicist about this story, Waxman introduced a time without work for all workers, and on Thursday night gathered staffers for a gathering by which she promised to do higher and usher in exterior consulting to enhance the office tradition.

“I used to be very sorry to study that some present and former workers have had experiences at TheWrap that aren’t per our values or the surroundings we work to foster. Offering a protected, fulfilling, and thriving office is crucial to any enterprise, and one thing we’ve got all the time made a precedence from the time we began 12 years in the past,” Waxman wrote in an announcement to The Every day Beast. “Whereas I don’t consider these allegations precisely mirror our present work surroundings, it’s clear that we’ve got some work to do, and I’m dedicated to doing it.”

Because the founder, chief government, prime editor, and public face of TheWrap, Waxman, 58, reigns over each facet of the digital outlet.

In simply 12 years, below her stewardship, TheWrap has established itself as one among Hollywood’s most influential and extensively learn commerce publications, competing instantly with mainstays like Selection and The Hollywood Reporter. Apart from producing quite a few leisure scoops, the scrappy outlet has won a number of journalism awards lately.

And the tenacity and ability required to create and run an influential Hollywood commerce publication will not be misplaced on staffers, with a number of present and former workers emphasizing their respect and admiration for what Waxman has achieved. “The truth that she owns this firm and is the one feminine sole proprietor of a commerce publication in Hollywood is hella spectacular,” mentioned one former TheWrap author.

Nevertheless, as one other former worker mentioned, “She runs it with an iron fist.”

One former staffer described having been “terrified to make a mistake since you would get publicly shamed or shamed in personal.” One other recounted Waxman’s verbal tirades, calling it a “gross abuse of energy” and lamenting that “it was actually poisonous and I by no means thought I’d be yelled at in such a means and watching her yell and shred different folks was actually unsettling.”

A number of staffers spoke of Waxman’s mercurial demeanor—“Jekyll and Hyde”-like, one described it—alleging that she will usually be fairly nice, solely to fly off the deal with at a second’s discover when displeased.

“In case you’re doing what she needs and he or she’s in an excellent temper then she might be fairly beautiful, and if not then there might be screaming and yelling and chaos,” mentioned one present worker. One other worker, who not too long ago departed the corporate, recalled Waxman melting down at her staffers earlier than a Wrap-sponsored occasion when her microphone wasn’t working. “It was terrifying,” this individual mentioned. “All of us stood there. You couldn’t cease her. You needed to let her yell and scream. Then the occasion began and the masks got here on after which she was very heat to folks.”

One former staffer, who left the corporate throughout the previous 12 months, prompt Waxman’s alleged frequent yelling is a part of her administration model of “powerful love.” One other ex-employee mentioned the Wrap boss might be aggressive as a means to make sure folks don’t “reap the benefits of her and never produce their finest work.” However within the course of, this individual mentioned, Waxman has “created a poisonous surroundings the place everybody labored defensively.”

“Is Sharon a demanding boss who holds her employees to a excessive normal? Sure. Is she blunt when she thinks you fall wanting that normal? Sure. We work in a breaking information surroundings,” Thom Geier, Waxman’s deputy and government editor, informed The Every day Beast after TheWrap prompt him as a supply for this story. “And so, can there be shouting generally if you need to get a narrative out and if you’re desirous to get issues hurried? Certain, that may occur. That’s occurred at just about each information outlet I’ve ever labored at. Is there extra of that at TheWrap than there are somewhere else? I don’t actually suppose so.” Waxman is “the last word professional,” added TheWrap’s chief income officer Lynne Segal, in a equally organized dialog.

“BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 26: TheWrap’s CEO & Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman attends TheWrap’s fifth Annual Oscar Celebration at Culina Restaurant on the 4 Seasons Los Angeles on February 26, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photograph by Kevin Winter/Getty Photos For TheWrap)”

Kevin Winter/Getty Photos For TheWrap

Different sources additionally expressed dismay over the dearth of non-public {and professional} boundaries in TheWrap’s office. Receiving a berating name from Waxman late into the night generally is a frequent expertise, present and former workers mentioned, as is the CEO utilizing the corporate’s Slack channel to upbraid workers or air doubtlessly offensive ideas.

At one level, in messages reviewed by The Every day Beast, Waxman lamented social mores in opposition to deadnaming transgender people, writing, “This may increasingly make a trans individual really feel higher however I wager it’s painful as hell to folks who lovingly selected that title for his or her child. Should the brand new destroy all vestiges of the outdated?” (A spokesperson for TheWrap mentioned “the Slack in query was in reference to a private buddy and their expertise with their transgender youngster. Nothing extra, nothing much less. Sharon totally helps the transgender neighborhood with no exception.”)

Much more troubling, insiders mentioned, was her remedy of colleagues experiencing household emergencies throughout work hours.

There was the aforementioned incident from final 12 months, by which Waxman allegedly scolded a staffer for taking his fiancée to an oncologist for a most cancers check-up. After working all the weekend on a venture, this now-former worker mentioned, Waxman cursed at him over the telephone for taking a number of hours off to are likely to his future spouse. (“This isn’t Sharon’s recollection of this incident,” wrote a spokesperson for TheWrap.)

In one other incident recalled by 4 sources, Waxman allegedly chastised a reporter who was involved for her father’s security through the 2015 mass taking pictures in San Bernardino, California. The reporter’s father was a member of a golf course situated close to the phobia assault.

“Sharon stormed out of her workplace and informed her in entrance of all the newsroom that it’s extremely unlikely your dad had golf in the course of the workday,” recalled one witness, a now-former Wrap worker. “We have to get the story out after which you possibly can name him.” (“This isn’t Sharon’s recollection of this incident,” wrote a spokesperson for TheWrap.)

And a former senior staffer recounted to The Every day Beast how, in 2015, her youngster dislocated his elbow and he or she needed to hurry over to the emergency room throughout a workday. Following the accident, the lady labored from dwelling for 2 days and was threatened along with her job if she didn’t return to the workplace instantly. (“Sharon unequivocally denies threatening to fireplace this worker over not coming into the workplace,” wrote a spokesperson for TheWrap.)

The lady give up TheWrap a number of weeks later. And he or she recalled confronting Waxman on her final day, making particular point out of the remedy she acquired throughout her son’s incident. In accordance with the ex-staffer, Waxman “informed me she did not consider anybody who was working at dwelling was truly working and that I ought to have higher childcare for my youngster.” A separate firsthand witness corroborated the trade.

“I don’t say this flippantly,” one other former TheWrap staffer bluntly mentioned: “Sharon Waxman is among the most terrible people who I’ve recognized in my life.”

TheWrap has all the time had excessive turnover: Not less than 9 folks amongst a employees of just some dozen have left in current weeks, for instance. And whereas lots of the former workers who spoke with The Every day Beast cited frustrations with Waxman’s habits, others mentioned departures are sometimes attributable to a churn-like editorial tradition by which staffers really feel overworked and underpaid.

A lot of the positioning’s site visitors over the previous few years, sources famous, has been generated by a staff of low-paid writers and freelancers internally nicknamed “The Squad.” Whereas the outlet expenses subscribers $15 per thirty days to entry “unique” content material—columns by Waxman and different writers, together with an trade e-newsletter—a lot of the day-to-day content material on the positioning consists of this group of writers’ aggregated information gadgets with sensationalized headlines.

A number of former members of “The Squad” informed The Every day Beast that they have been paid a really low base wage—sometimes round $30,000 per 12 months—together with a bonus construction primarily based on the variety of page-views they generated per thirty days. Though staffers have been informed they might primarily set their very own hours, these former staffers mentioned, the fact of the state of affairs dictated that writers devoted extraordinarily lengthy hours to TheWrap as a way to make a extra livable wage.

Discontent over low pay and excessive expectations could also be pretty commonplace in digital media however, sources mentioned, the state of affairs at TheWrap is typically exacerbated by staffers being pressured into humiliating conditions as a way to reduce prices.

Sharon Waxman attends TheWrap’s Energy Girls Summit at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown on November 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Presley Ann/Getty

When TheWrap sends reporters on journeys to main leisure occasions, a number of former and present staffers mentioned, Waxman has been recognized to make workers—generally of various genders—share bedrooms and even beds at occasions. “My feminine colleague and I shared a room with double beds and no partitions for any type of privateness,” one former male worker mentioned about one work journey to New York.

Elsewhere, three sources individually recalled how Waxman blew up a number of years in the past after discovering out her assistant had supplied enterprise playing cards to incoming and present editorial staffers.

“When Sharon acquired the bill, she misplaced her thoughts and convened a gathering the place she mentioned not solely would these bills be popping out of our pockets as a result of she did not approve them, however type of anticipated everybody to go round and provide penance for ordering enterprise playing cards,” one former worker mentioned. “It was insane.”

Although, as sources mentioned, Waxman threatened to dock workers the price of the enterprise playing cards— roughly $30 per field—she finally backed down. Prime editors despatched the employees an e mail saying the corporate was “protecting the prices on this one occasion.”

Waxman “actually treats her workers just like the worst form of robber baron manufacturing facility proprietor ever,” an ex-staffer mentioned.

Office tensions at TheWrap reached a boiling level in the summertime of 2020.

Shortly after George Floyd’s homicide by the hands of a white police officer sparked nationwide protests over police brutality and racism, Waxman commissioned a visitor weblog by disaster communications advisor and common TheWrap contributor Ross Johnson, titled “Why Darnella Frazier Is the Most Influential Filmmaker of the Century.”

The article rapidly drew public condemnation for its tone-deafness in evaluating Frazier’s camera-phone footage of Floyd’s homicide to the grand directorial work of filmmakers like Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese.

5 days later, Waxman released a grudging statement apologizing for the article: “As a result of a failure in modifying, this submit fell wanting TheWrap’s requirements. It lacked focus and context, and missed the mark in its said intention: to have fun the courageous younger lady whose video of George Floyd’s killing has sparked worldwide outcry and renewed calls to finish racial inequality. We sincerely apologize to our readers for that failure. We defend [author Ross] Johnson’s proper to his opinion, and we’ve got no real interest in making an attempt to make our shortcomings disappear. So we’re leaving the submit up on our website, as is.”

Internally at TheWrap, nevertheless, staffers nonetheless chafed on the submit and Waxman’s dealing with of the state of affairs. Finally the overwhelming majority of reporters, writers, and editors signed a letter excoriating Waxman and Geier, the manager editor, for failing to take their considerations critically, demanding that they take away the submit from the web site.

Founder and CEO, TheWrap, Sharon Waxman attends ‘TheWrap’s Breaking into the Enterprise Dwell!’ on December 7, 2016 in Alhambra, California.

Emma McIntyre/Getty

“It troubles us as a newsroom that you’ve got did not see how TheWrap has callously allowed this author to remark so carelessly on the brutalization and trauma of Black our bodies and minds as if it have been a movie to be reviewed,” learn the letter, which was obtained and reviewed by The Every day Beast.

Past eradicating the submit, the letter additional demanded that Waxman “take a tough have a look at the tradition that has fostered in your newsroom.” The staffers fumed: “We make these requests out of take care of the way forward for TheWrap and its repute, and we can’t permit this to easily ‘blow over.’ Till change occurs inside this newsroom, and till TheWrap represents the values of its employees, we won’t be able to maneuver on.”Finally, after Geier and Waxman positioned an editor’s notice on the weblog, in response to a number of former staffers, the article was totally faraway from the positioning.

The identical month because the controversial George Floyd op-ed, staffers have been outraged by Waxman’s determination to deadname Transparent creator Joey Soloway on the duvet of TheWrap’s journal. With Soloway saying that they now recognized as non-binary, Waxman made the ultimate determination on a front-page headline that learn: “Joey (Not Jill) Soloway On The Legacy Of Clear.”

“I used to be simply horrified,” one now-former worker mentioned.

A spokesperson for TheWrap wrote: “the choice to additionally embrace Joey’s deadname was a selection made to make clear to readers who they have been referring to as this was proper in the intervening time Joey publicly introduced their new title in June 2020. TheWrap is totally supportive of Joey and all the trans neighborhood.”

When TheWrap’s staffers have complaints about mistreatment within the office, they might really feel as if they’ve nowhere to show. That’s as a result of, present and former workers famous, Waxman’s adviser and now-former husband Claude Memmi is the corporate’s head of human sources.

“There’s nobody to go to,” one not too long ago departed staffer sighed. One other ex-employee remarked how HR successfully “doesn’t exist” at TheWrap. “I did not inform him something. Such as you’re actually sleeping with my boss,“ mentioned one other former staffer, who famous that Memmi was employed for the place whereas nonetheless married to Waxman.

“Truthfully, nobody goes to Claude,” a present staffer at TheWrap informed The Every day Beast, out of a concern that he’ll go “straight to Sharon.” And so, the worker mentioned, “everybody form of fights their very own battles.”

And strolling away from TheWrap might not be really easy both.

In accordance with a number of sources aware of the state of affairs, Waxman requires a lot of her workers to signal multi-year contracts with restrictive non-compete clauses— an obvious effort to stop them from taking their expertise to go work for a competitor like Selection or Deadline.

A spokesperson for TheWrap wrote that “Sharon runs a enterprise and brings on and trains proficient journalists. Like different media firms, multi 12 months worker contracts are normal for the trade.”

“BEVERLY HILLS, CA – OCTOBER 02: CEO, TheWrap, Sharon Waxman speaks onstage at TheWrap’s eighth Annual TheGrill at Montage Beverly Hills on October 2, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photograph by Frazer Harrison/Getty Photos)”

Frazer Harrison/Getty Photos

Waxman has threatened authorized motion in opposition to a number of rivals who’ve employed away her workers.

As an illustration, Waxman unsuccessfully sued The Information, alleging the outlet deliberately poached reporter Matt Pressberg in December 2017 whereas he was below a two-year contract with TheWrap. A choose discovered Pressberg’s non-compete clause violated California regulation by restraining him from partaking in his occupation.

Elsewhere, in response to a number of sources aware of the state of affairs, when senior author Matt Donnelly accepted a place with Selection in 2018, Waxman despatched threatening authorized letters to each him and the journal’s proprietor Penske Media. Nonetheless below contract on the time, Donnelly was within the closing months of his multi-year deal when Selection employed him.

In his dialog with The Every day Beast, Waxman’s deputy Geier even prompt this very article is the product of TheWrap’s rivalry with Penske Media: “I’d be curious to know the way lots of the folks that you have spoken to who’ve complained about Sharon Waxman and TheWrap at the moment are working for Jay Penske…. I’m fascinated by the notion that, you already know, there are individuals who went to work for Sharon after which went to work for Jay Penske. And you already know we are the final of the unbiased trades, and the one one which is not funded by a Saudi authorities that murders journalists.”

Nonetheless, Waxman herself appears to have acknowledged that not all is properly at TheWrap.

“Fortunately, we’ve got a staff of resilient, inventive, and collaborative individuals who have risen to the event and delivered to assist us thrive. TheWrap stays the one unbiased information group in leisure media right now, an accomplishment that’s made doable by our extraordinary staff and the top-quality journalism it produces,” she continued in her assertion. “We’re making the dedication to our workers to rent exterior experience to assist assess the tradition and handle these considerations.”

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