Mon. Feb 26th, 2024
alert-–-just-what-is-going-on-behind-the-scenes-at-archewell?-inside-mass-exodus-from-harry-and-meghan’s-production-company-as-yet-another-exec-leaves-couple’s-employAlert – Just what IS going on behind the scenes at Archewell? Inside mass exodus from Harry and Meghan’s production company as yet another exec leaves couple’s employ

A lynchpin of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell Netflix series has left the couple’s California production company – bringing the total number of staff the Sussexes have lost since they married to at least 17.

Archewell TV executive Bennett Levine left the company this month and has moved to a US rival in a move described to as a serious ‘blow’ to the couple. 

Mr Levine’s boss, Oscar-winning producer Ben Browning, oversaw the couple’s record-breaking Netflix docu-series Harry & Meghan and their less successful Live to Lead but he also quit last year.

Bennett, considered a young hotshot in the industry, is believed to be at least the 17th person to have left the Sussexes’ service since they married in 2018. At least eight have left since they moved to California.

His departure came amid uncertainty over their £80million deal with Netflix – the couple’s one remaining big-money streaming contract.

It came after the Duchess of Sussex gushed on a LA red carpet before Christmas that she and Prince Harry had ‘so many exciting things on the slate’ to announce’, promising that they would be projects that make people feel good when they see it.

The search for positivity came after their six-part Netflix documentary received mixed reviews and was branded a ‘shallow attempt to burnish their public image’ by one critic who warned viewers: ‘The documentary felt more like a one-sided promotion of Harry and Meghan’s image than a balanced exploration of their lives’.

Meghan and Harry have lost another staffer, this time Bennett Levine, who worked on the Netflix docu-series that caused waves last year

Meghan and Harry have lost another staffer, this time Bennett Levine, who worked on the Netflix docu-series that caused waves last year

Meghan and Harry have lost another staffer, this time Bennett Levine, who worked on the Netflix docu-series that caused waves last year

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry now have just one major media deal left with Netflix (pictured in their mini series) following the cancellation of the Duchess of Sussex's Spotify podcast, Archetypes. Experts say 2024 is a make or break year for the couple

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry now have just one major media deal left with Netflix (pictured in their mini series) following the cancellation of the Duchess of Sussex’s Spotify podcast, Archetypes. Experts say 2024 is a make or break year for the couple

Mr Levine worked on Harry & Meghan, which Archewell co-produced with Netflix and which was released in 2022.  It enjoyed string ratings but split critics as well as upset Harry’s family in Britain because of the number of attacks on them.

Bennett confirmed his departure from Archewell in a message to contacts on social media. 

‘I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position at Cinetic Media,’ he said on LinkedIn of his new job at an American film financing and distribution company.

Internal content head Ben Browning, an Oscar-nominated producer, is also leaving Archewell

TV producer Ben Browning (pictured), who also worked on the Netflix series, left last year

A source told the Daily Mail’s Richard Eden: ‘It’s a blow to Archewell. There’s no doubt about that.’

Bennett, who was promoted to manager of Archewell in 2022, left the company this month. 

He previously worked for Sony Pictures and then with FilmNation Entertainment where he worked with Ben Browning, who also moved to Archewell but also later quit.

Last year Page Six reported that the Sussexes parted ways with their talented senior vice-president of scripted television, Nishika Kumble. 

She worked there for less than two years. 

When Mr Levine was taken on as co-ordinator for the business in 2021, his appointment was hailed by the Sussexes’ most outspoken cheerleader, Omid Scobie, as a sign that Archewell was ‘a hive of activity that continues to grow’.

Levine’s surprise exit comes amid rumours that Netflix may not renew its deal with Archewell and the couple have been soon schmoozing executives from other broadcasting companies.

The streaming giant is rumoured to be considering parting ways with the Sussexes’ after Spotify ended their deal after one series of Meghan’s podcast Archetypes. Spotify executive and popular podcaster Bill Simmons even called the couple ‘f***ing grifters in the aftermath.

Meghan Markle, pictured at Variety's 'Power of Women' gala last month, where she teased 'exciting' new projects

Meghan Markle, pictured at Variety’s ‘Power of Women’ gala last month, where she teased ‘exciting’ new projects

Kerry Washington, Kelly Rowland and Meghan on a night out to watch Beyonce. US Weekly claims Meghan is pushing for new work across Hollywood

Kerry Washington, Kelly Rowland and Meghan on a night out to watch Beyonce. US Weekly claims Meghan is pushing for new work across Hollywood

Meghan and Janet Yang, American film producer and the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Variety Power of Women event last month

Meghan and Janet Yang, American film producer and the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Variety Power of Women event last month

Hollywood power broker Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman of the Universal Studio Group sat next to Meghan at the Variety event

Hollywood power broker Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman of the Universal Studio Group sat next to Meghan at the Variety event

Rumours that the California-based couple may be preparing for the end of their Netflix deal were fuelled by their trip to Jamaica last week for the film premiere of Bob Marley: One Love, as guests of Brian Robbins, boss of Netflix’s streaming rival Paramount Pictures.

The couple have had a tough time. They were skewered by South Park and Family Guy, named among the ‘biggest losers’ of the year by The Hollywood Reporter and recently revealed a £8.7million fall in donations to their Archewell Foundation. 

The Duchess of Sussex recently signed with William Morris Endeavor (WME) mega-agent Ari Emanuel whose clients include Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Serena Williams and other A-Listers – but WME is reportedly having second thoughts.

Meghan also appeared on the red carpet at Variety’s ‘Power of Women’ gala where she teased ‘exciting’ new projects for her and Harry. She also sat with two of LA’s most powerful women, one working for the Oscars and another high up at Universal Studios.

At Archewell, the couple most recently hired a former model and reality star turned TV producer and ‘InstaMom’.

Tracy Ryerson, 43, is the new Head of Scripted Content at Archewell Productions amid rumours the Sussexes are pitching to Netflix to make a feminist-focused prequel to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which focuses on the world’s most famous jilted bride Miss Havisham.

In June also revealed that Meghan and Harry had swooped to employ the marketing director at an exclusive hotel around the corner from their mansion where Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill and JFK were guests.

Harrison Colcord worked at the San Ysidro Ranch, where rooms are between $2,655 and $4,000-a-night and the Duke of Sussex did his incendiary TV interviews with Anderson Cooper and Tom Bradby in January last year to promote Spare.

Ms Colcord appears to have left San Ysidro Ranch and her role as Director of Sales and Marketing a month later, with no new job listed on her LinkedIn.

But the British owner of a Montecito bike store revealed she is now working for Harry and Meghan as their office manager after publishing a letter from the couple thanking him and his wife for a free bike they gave to Archie on his 4th birthday on May 6, 2023. 

Harry and Meghan’s offices and businesses have been described as a ‘revolving door’. 

In January last year, Fara Taylor, who led the Archewell Productions marketing team, and internal content head Ben Browning, both left the company.

The Sussexes said they were ‘hugely grateful’ for the pair’s support on their ‘vital look-back projects’, adding that Ms Taylor and Mr Browning ‘exceeded expectations’, The Telegraph reported.

The Duke and Duchess have now reportedly lost 17 members of their staff since 2018. However, they did not officially launch the Archewell organisation until late 2020.

Mr Browning and Ms Taylor left Archewell after having ‘made their mark within the cultural zeitgeist,’ the firm’s head of communications told the newspaper.

Mr Browning, an Oscar-nominated producer, is attributed with playing an ‘integral’ part in the production of the Harry & Meghan series.

His departure will be followed by a ‘period of focus on scripted content production,’ reports claim. 

Archewell had followed Harry & Meghan with its Live to Lead documentary, created in partnership with the Mandela Foundation. 

Live to Lead did not receive the same global response as the couple’s docuseries.

Before their departures, Archewell president and chief operating officer Mandana Dayani stepped down in December 2022, less than 18 months after assuming her role.

Rebecca Sananes – head of audio at Archewell – quit after just 18 months. She was hired to produce the Duchess’s Spotify podcast Archetypes.

 

The former staffers who have left Harry and Meghan’s service since 2018

Bennett Levine – January 2024

Bennett Levine, who was promoted to manager of Archewell in 2022, left the company this month.

He was close to Ben Browning, who worked on the Netflix docu-series  Ha 

When he was taken on as co-ordinator for the business in 2021, his appointment was hailed by the Sussexes’ most outspoken cheerleader, Omid Scobie, as a sign that Archewell was ‘a hive of activity that continues to grow’.

Levine confirms his departure in a message to contacts on social media. ‘I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position at Cinetic Media’.

Fara Taylor – January 2023

Fara Taylor led Archewell¿s marketing team

Fara Taylor led Archewell’s marketing team

Fara Taylor led Archewell’s marketing team. She opted to leave the firm in January 2023.

She oversaw the team during the release of the couple’s Netflix docuseries and Harry’s memoir, Spare. 

Ms Taylor’s departure comes as the Sussexes were planning to ‘streamline the company’s marketing arm.’

Ashley Hansen, Archewell’s head of communication, will lead the marketing team moving forward.

Oscar-nominated producer Ben Browning has quit working at Archewell following the success of the couple's Harry & Meghan docuseries

Oscar-nominated producer Ben Browning has quit working at Archewell following the success of the couple’s Harry & Meghan docuseries

Ben Browning – January 2023

Oscar-nominated producer Ben Browning has quit working at Archewell following the success of the couple’s Harry & Meghan docuseries.

Mr Browning, the company’s internal content head, played an ‘integral’ part in the production of the Netflix series.

Harry & Meghan was the platform’s most-streamed documentary series debut, amassing 81.55 million hours watched in the first week after release. 

Archewell had followed Harry & Meghan with its Live to Lead documentary, created in partnership with the Mandela Foundation.

Live to Lead did not receive the same global response as the couple’s docuseries. 

Rebecca Sananes

Rebecca Sananes

Rebecca Sananes – December 2022

Rebecca Sananes has quit as head of audio at Archewell after just 18 months in the role, according to the Daily Telegraph and US gossip website Page Six.

She was hired to produce Meghan’s Spotify podcast, Archetypes, in July 2021, but has been replaced by media executive Serena Regan. 

It has not yet been decided whether a second series of Archetypes will be commissioned.

Mandana Dayani – December 2022

Mandana Dayani stepped down as president of Archewell, the couple’s media empire and charitable foundation, at the weekend.

Mandana Dayani

Mandana Dayani

A spokeswoman for Meghan and Harry said the pair would ‘take full lead of their company’.

With her US media connections, the Iranian-born activist was considered one of the Duke and Duchess’s most important advisers. She has been at Archewell, where she oversaw day-to-day operations, for less than 18 months. 

In a statement, Ashley Hansen, Meghan and Harry’s global press secretary, last night said that Ms Dayani ‘has been an integral part of Archewell and we are grateful for her passion, commitment and leadership’. 

Toya Holness – May 2022

Toya Holness, who has a degree in strategic PR from the University of Southern California, joined the Sussexes in October 2020 and was promoted to oversee their PR on both sides of the Atlantic in March last year.

Toya Holness

Toya Holness

She has previously been described as ‘Meghan’s shadow’ – having often been seen wearing the same style of power suits and Hollywood sunglasses.

The former football player had been one of a small band who speak to Harry and Meghan daily, but is understood to have parted ways with the couple, The Sunday Times reports.

She was said to have ‘wanted out’ after finding herself ‘having to fulfil a great many functions for the couple’, insiders claimed.

Catherine St Laurent – March 2021

The executive director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation Catherine St-Laurent stepped down after just one year to take on a ‘senior advisory’ role at the organisation.

Catherine St Laurent

Catherine St Laurent

Ms St-Laurent took on the position of chief of staff and executive director of the Sussexes’ non-profit enterprise in April 2020. 

The Canadian mother-of-two was said to be ‘the bright hope to run their organisation’.

It was revealed that Meghan and Harry’s UK PR chief James Holt would take on the director role instead.

And, in a sign of the couple’s growing ventures across the pond, it was also announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hired veteran producer Ben Browning to head up their film and TV company.

Natalie Campbell – June 2020

Natalie Campbell, a diversity campaigner, was Harry and Meghan’s big hire to lead their cherished Sussex Royal charity foundation.

Natalie Campbell

Natalie Campbell

She worked with Meghan on cookbook Together, which shone a light on the Hubb Kitchen, a group who came together to prepare fresh meals following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. 

Poached from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation in August 2019, she worked for the Sussexes for less than a year before leaving for a new job.

Sara Latham – March 2020

Sara Latham, former director of communications, was among a group of 15 employees to have lost her job from Megxit. 

Sara Latham

Sara Latham

She previously worked for Barack Obama and was hired when the rift between the Sussexes and Cambridges happened.  

In his bombshell book Courtiers, Valentine Low writes: ‘At the back of [colleagues’] minds was the feeling that anyone leaving the Sussex team would be best advised to think of a good excuse. Meghan did not like it if she thought it was about her.’ 

Clara Loughran – March 2020

The New Zealander, 33, first worked for the Cambridges where she met her now husband, PR executive Nick Loughran. 

Samantha Cohen

Samantha Cohen

She was handed a key role as the Sussexes project manager, overseeing their charitable projects and helping with their wedding plans. She lost her job when the couple left for a new life. 

Samantha Cohen – October 2019

Cohen, the Queen’s assistant private secretary, was planning to leave Buckingham Palace in 2018.

However, she agreed to stay on to help guide the Duchess of Sussex through her first months in the Royal Family.

An n who joined the Palace press office in 2001, tough-talking Cohen was respected in Royal circles. 

Clara Loughran

Clara Loughran 

She left as the couple’s private secretary last year to work for environmental charity Cool Earth.

Amy Pickerill – March 2019

Ms Pickerill had been tipped to become Meghan’s private secretary after Cohen before she unexpectedly quit as a key aide in May 2019. 

The former Treasury press officer had played a key role in Harry and Meghan’s tour of , New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga in October 2018 – their first Royal tour as a married couple. 

Amy Pickerill

Amy Pickerill

Meghan described the loss of her assistant private secretary as ‘very sad’ and sources insisted the split was amicable. 

Jason Knauf & Christian Jones – March 2019

Senior communications secretaries Jason Knauf and Christian Jones left to work for the Cambridges.

Mr Knauf was found to have submitted a formal complaint in October 2018 to Prince William’s private secretary, Simon Case, about the bullying he said various members of the household had been subject to.

The Sussexes have always vehemently denied allegations of bullying as a ‘calculated smear campaign’. 

Jason Knauf

Christian Jones

Senior communications secretaries Jason Knauf (left) and Christian Jones (right) left to work for the Cambridges

Melissa Toubati

Melissa Toubati

Female protection officer – January 2019

In January 2019, a female royal protection officer also quit her job as the top bodyguard for Meghan.

The officer, who has not been named for security reasons, had been head of Meghan and Harry’s security for less than a year when she left the role.

At the time, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘It’s for personal reasons and absolutely nothing to do with the Duke or Duchess, who are hugely disappointed at losing her.’

Melissa Toubati – November 2018

Deputy communications secretary Katrina McKeever

Deputy communications secretary Katrina McKeever 

Meghan’s PA, Melissa Toubati, left after just six months, said to have handed in her notice after the Duchess had left her ‘in tears’ with her demands. Meghan denies the claims.

Katrina McKeever – September 2018

Deputy communications secretary Katrina McKeever quietly departed the Kensington Palace press office in September 2018.

She had a key liaison role with Meghan’s family, including her father Thomas Markle. In Finding Freedom, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand say McKeever ‘left on a good note with the Sussexes’.

error: Content is protected !!