Following the sudden departures of Kathy Griffin and Kelly Osbourne from E!’s Fashion Police, the network announced that the show has gone on hiatus. The show had previously been scheduled to return on March 30, but after Tuesday’s announcement, Fashion Police is not expected to come back on the air until fall.
E! released a statement Tuesday to announce the break, saying that it was “taking this opportunity to refresh [Fashion Police] before the next awards season.” According to the statement, current Executive Producer Melissa Rivers will be staying with the show, as will current co-hosts Brad Goreski and Giuliana Rancic. The network says they will be using the hiatus to reshape the show.
On Thursday, Griffin went public via social media with the news of her departure from Fashion Police. She explained that her sudden exit, after just seven episodes, was due to her discovery that “my style does not fit with the creative direction of the show.” The feisty comedienne joined the show after the death of former co-star Joan Rivers. In her statement, Griffin criticizes Fashion Police for “a culture of unattainable perfection” and accuses the show of being intolerant of those who are different. During a publicity tour following her exit from the show, Griffin called Fashion Police a “dog pile” while appearing on The View.
Only two weeks prior, Osbourne exited Fashion Police to “pursue other opportunities.” Osbourne departed the show amid controversy surrounding a joke about Zendaya’s dreadlocks at the Oscars, in which Rancic described the Disney star’s hairstyle as looking as if it smelled like “weed” or “patchouli oil.” Rancic publicly apologized for the statement, and Osbourne took note of the apology on Twitter.
In addition to returning without the vital presence of Joan Rivers on the show, Fashion Police is also dealing with a number of other issues related to their intense focus on celebrities’ fashion and beauty choices. E!’s “mani cam,” in which stars place their hands in order to show off their nails for the Fashion Police, drew criticism from Julianne Moore, who deemed it to be “humiliating.” Other celebrities would not participate. A Twitter campaign using the hashtag #AskHerMore went viral with a call for E! correspondents to cease only focusing on fashion when interviewing red carpet arrivals.
E!’s mani cam and the “What are you wearing?” interviews of the red carpet seem to be directly at odds with where NBCUniversal cable chief Bonnie Hammer recently said she wants the network to head, specifically, in a more “aspirational” bent. In addition, in an age where mainstream America is growing tired of reality television”stars” who are famous for doing nothing but being famous, a backlash against the celebrity-focused culture is growing. The New York Times on March 15 noted that the network’s focus, with shows such as The Fashion Police, has been on “rever[ing] celebrities on the red carpet” one day and “march[ing] them onto a gangplank and push[ing] them into the water” the next.
Three more episodes of Fashion Police had been scheduled for production during the spring, but those plans have been scrapped in order for the show to regroup and find new cast members. The show plans to make a fall return by airing six or seven shows which will be connected to major fashion events, of which the Emmy Awards are included.
NBCUniversal Lifestyle Networks Group president Frances Berwick admitted that in looking back, it was clear that Fashion Police had returned to the air “too soon” after the death of Joan Rivers in September, admitting that NBC and Melissa Rivers, who is also the daughter of Joan Rivers, had thought about pulling the plug altogether on the show. In the final analysis, they decided that putting Fashion Police on hiatus for a reworking, and having it come which over five years has earned almost one million loyal fans, would be the next step.