‘Umbrella Academy’ Boss Steve Blackman Rebuffs Claims of Toxic Behavior

By Chanak Maduranga

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‘Umbrella Academy’ Boss Steve Blackman Rebuffs Claims of Toxic Behavior
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The showrunner of Netflix’s hit fantasy series The Umbrella Academy has pushed back on allegations reported in a Rolling Stone exposé that detailed accusations of him creating a toxic and bullying environment that they say ultimately discriminated against women.

Steve Blackman, who co-created the fantasy series that went on to become Netflix’s third most-streamed show, is alleged to have bullied and harassed staff and as is alleged by the 12 anonymous sources in a Rolling Stone report that details his behavior as The Umbrella Academy’s top dog as bullying and degrading. He is also accused in the report of firing a female writer who’d left for maternity leave upon her intended return with a month remaining in her contract. 

The allegations against Blackman mostly stem from an HR complaint made in early 2023. Insulting staff in private after praising them publicly, using their ideas, then giving them no credit or belittling tactics were some of his alleged behaviors, the magazine reported.

Blackman, via his rep, issued a statement to Rolling Stone dismissing the accusations as those of disgruntled, discarded writers.

“Over six years and four seasons overseeing thousands of crew, actors and writers, Steve Blackman led The Umbrella Academy to become a beloved series with devoted fans, enthralling stories and a dedicated team making it all possible,” Blackman’s rep said in the statement. “These allegations from a handful of disgruntled employees are completely false and outrageous, and in no way reflect the collaborative, respectful and successful working environment Mr. Blackman has cultivated.”

The Umbrella Academy star Elliot Page coming out as a transgender and nonbinary in 2020, which garnered the show high praise when it was woven into the plot, came up in the complaints about Blackman. One of the accusers shared texts from the showrunner that read, “Elliot [Page] wants to come out as trans on the show. As Ivan. Oh my f—king God. Kill me now.”

Blackman, via his rep, addressed the text’s inclusion in his response, writing that frustration expressed on the matter was about the heavy lift that would come with reworking the already completed scripts, “a complete rewrite under a wildly compressed timeline and the responsibility to handle this with sensitivity and care,” said Blackman’s rep. Page has himself expressed satisfaction with the manner and care of paralleling his transition journey with Viktor’s in the second season of the series. “I think one of the most special things about this is how it’s handled,” Page told reporters at the time.

Other texts from Blackman mentioned in the article involve the alleged scheme to fire a writer, with the showrunner writing, “We have the perfect opportunity to jettison her via studio cover and replace,” according to the magazine’s sources. Another time, he allegedly spoke of a woman’s breasts as her “rack” while texting a writer. The article also tells of the Writer’s Guild of America intervening when Blackman credited himself as the sole writer on an episode; it eventually aired with four other writers’ names credited.

As far as the accusations of lewd, sexist behavior, the Rolling Stone article recounts how Universal Content Productions launched an investigation into the allegations in 2023 following the HR memo. The show’s production studio found that Blackman had indeed made “inappropriate and unprofessional remarks” and used “foul and derogatory language.” The probe was criticized, with several of the accusers saying they weren’t even contacted. The matter was reportedly “addressed” with Blackman by HR and, following the probe, his $50 million deal with Netflix remained untouched.

The fourth and final season of The Umbrella Academy will conclude the series, and is set to drop on Netflix Aug. 8. The streaming giant has since extended its partnership with Blackman and his Irish Cowboy Productions. Blackman will next work on adapting a series version of the PlayStation game Horizon Zero Dawn, along with a sci-fi limited series titled Orbital.

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Netflix for comment on the accusations against Blackman.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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