Catt Sadler is leaving E! News because of a massive case of pay inequality
I’m so old that I remember getting all of my entertainment news from Steve Kmetko and Jules Asner, the co-anchors of E! News in the 1990s. I still miss them, and I’m not even joking. They were eventually phased out by other people, like Giuliana Rancic and Ryan Seacrest and about a million other people. The current version of E! News has more focus on Millennials and Millennial celebrities (Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are regularly the top story), and the hosts are Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy. It would not surprise me at all if Jason Kennedy is the personality on E! News with the highest Q-rating – he’s very likeable and “trustworthy” (if you need to be “trustworthy” for gossip news). Catt has been on E! for years, and she was only made the co-anchor following all of the drama with Giuliana Rancic and Fashion Police and all of that. Catt worked her way up, and she and Jason have a nice chemistry together.
Anyway, Catt announced this week that she’s leaving E! News and E!. It was a surprise because, as I said, she worked her way up and it seemed like she loved her job. Well, Catt is now talking about why she’s leaving, and it’s not glamorous in the least – she found out she was being paid significantly less than Jason Kennedy, and E! refuses to renew her contract with equal pay.
After almost 12 years at the network, longtime host Catt Sadler has said goodbye to her “dream job” at E! News — a decision that she says “required a lot of soul-searching.”
“Up until this point, I mean it really has been a dream job. Literally a dream job. I’m from Indiana, born and raised, and I had my sights set on E! and I’ve seen the world. I’ve had the best experiences. I’ve gotten incredibly close with all of my coworkers. It’s like a family here and it’s been beautiful for the majority of my run. I pinch myself every day the job that I get to do. I have so much fun. It has almost been surreal,” Sadler, 43, tells PEOPLE. “But then, this year happened.”
Throughout the past year, the single mother of two — she is mom to sons Arion Boyd, 12, and Austin Boyd, 16 — has taken on more responsibility in her role at E!, including hosting the two-hour live daytime show Daily Pop and “also hosting E! News a majority of nights, so I inherited a lot more responsibility and more work hours and what not.”
This year, Sadler’s contract was coming to an end and she was notified by E! executives that they wanted to extend her deal. But about the same time that was happening, Sadler says she was “informed and made aware that my male equivalent at the network who I started with the same year and have come up with doing essentially similar jobs, if not the same job, wasn’t just making a little bit more than me but was making double my salary and has been for several years. That was really hard to swallow, but you know information is supposed to be power and when my team began negotiations knowing what we knew, that was the barometer in which I expected to be paid, based on the law and based on what I know to be fair. And what I believe in my heart of hearts is reasonable,” she explains about asking to be compensated the same as her co-host and friend, Jason Kennedy, who serves as co-host of E! News as well as a correspondent for red carpet coverage.
Although Sadler was hopeful that she would be able to extend her contract, “not only did [E!] refuse to pay me as much as my male counterpart, but they didn’t come close — nowhere close, not even remotely close.” Upon learning that Kennedy, 36, was being paid double her salary, Sadler admits she was both “in shock” and felt insulted, and ultimately decided two weeks ago that she would depart from the network.
“It’s almost insulting because you know you work really hard. I’m a single mom of two kids. I’ve given my all to this network. I’ve sacrificed time away from my family and I have dedicated my entire career to this network. And when you learn something like that, it makes you feel very small and underappreciated and undervalued,” she shares. “It’s heartbreaking.”
But Sadler asserts that the pay disparity is not Kennedy’s “fault.” “Jason Kennedy is one of my best friends in the whole wide world. He is like a brother to me. And in no way do I want this to reflect poorly on him,” she shares. “He’s devastated, I think, and I think he believes that this is a great loss for the network. He does not want to see me go. Jason is a class act … It’s important that people don’t vilify him because he isn’t the problem — the system’s the problem, the structure’s the problem. And I really do mean that. Because that’s been a hard part of this whole thing because I love him dearly. And to be honest, he has been such a champion for me in every sense. But it’s not his decision.”
Catt also cites women like Jennifer Lawrence and Oprah as inspirations for speaking openly about pay equality, and for standing up for what’s right. Sadler is showing so much backbone here – it would have been easy to interpret her negotiation as a bluff, because she truly loved her job and didn’t want to leave, and E! knew that. But she stood up for herself and what’s right and what’s equitable. E! released a statement to People saying: “E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender. We appreciate Catt Sadler’s many contributions at E! News and wish her all the best following her decision to leave the network.” Horsesh-t. They expected her to do more and more work without compensation AND they expected to pay her less than a man doing the same job. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Jason Kennedy was right there, fighting for Catt too, just as it wouldn’t surprise me if he was the one to tell her how much he was making, in the hopes of helping her contract negotiation. TL;DR version: E! seems like a terrible place to work if you’re a woman.
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