Ethics Dunce: Glenn Weiss


Director Glenn Weiss made a surprise proposal to his longtime girlfriend Jan Svendsen during his Emmy Awards acceptance speech.

The Ethics Alarms rule, hinted at in other posts, is that anyone who issues a marriage proposal in public, putting unethical pressure on his or her loved one to accept, should be rejected on the spot. The act is unfair, disrespectful, and signature significance for a jerk and a bully who is unlikely to be a pleasant life partner. This goes for sports stadium TV screen proposals, but Weiss’s version is especially bad: the coast-to-coast live TV proposal.

It was unethical in other respects as well. The Emmys aren’t license for any winner to hijack the show  and divert it for his or her own  personal objectives.  Making an acceptance speech into political rant is wrong, but the recent culture of award shows has ratified the obnoxious practice: that’s why the ratings for awards shows are falling like ripe apples in October. In Weiss’s case, there was also the hypocrisy factor. He has produced and directed 18 Tonys telecasts for CBS, and is known “as an unforgiving stickler when it comes to keeping acceptance speeches to the allotted 45 seconds.” One theater exec told Page Six that “every year, Glenn gives this pompous speech to all the nominees, lecturing everyone about how the clock starts the second your name is called and that going long is unfair to your fellow nominees because it eats time for everyone whose categories come later in the evening. Leave it to him to completely flout his own rule in order to grab as much attention as humanly possible for him and his girlfriend.”

Good luck, Jan.

24 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Glenn Weiss

  1. Reminds me of the public proposal scene in Working Girl where Melanie Griffith’s Tess McGill essentially tells Mick Dugan (played by prick extraordinaire Alec Baldwin) to shove it.

    Dugan: Tess, will you marry me?

    McGill: Maybe.

    Dugan: Ya call that an answer?

    McGill: You want another answer, ask another girl.


  2. They’re both actors. I’m sure they rehearsed the whole scene, may have even scripted it. If actors are involved, it’s always prudent to ask yourself if they’re not acting.

    Funnily, the Post article also mentioned the guy’s two daughters were not at all thrilled to find out about their new step mother along with the rest of the live and television audience. Another boo boo by this guy.

  3. Didn’t watch the Emmys this year either. I did see the In Memoriam segment online to determine how many established television actors they left out this year so they could include John McCain because he hosted a pretty funny SNL one time and did a cameo on Parks & Rec. (translation: had a stupid public feud with the President)

  4. Anyone find awkward the amount of times he mentioned his mother during this speech and grandstand. Freudian stuff bubbling below the surface perhaps? Once, twice, maybe three times, but he really went all out with the references.

  5. I’ll say it…

    I don’t care what anyone says or denials from the couple; this was no surprise to the girl, this was a staged planned dramatic event by the two of them, it was just unplanned for everyone else.

  6. I didn’t watch it or any of the clips and only heard about this event from other people…but reading your analysis, I’m a bit hurt by your proclamations against public proposals. Just a blanket “you’re unethical if you do it” without consideration of the personal and intimate circumstances in any given relationship? We can easily mentally conceive the conditions in which a public proposal is ethical (not just moral luck, nice try), therefore a blanket proclamation against all public proposals is a bridge too far.

    Since I don’t watch the Emmys – is it as packed for time as the Oscars is? I could see that ethical analysis being spot on, but if he used his time for it and the Emmy’s is a more relaxed environment with lots of padded time, and you’re going to do a nice, sweet thing that will have people talking about the Emmy’s while providing a much needed distraction from reality…well…isn’t that worth it?

    • Nope, they rush people off the stage as quickly as the Oscars, but somehow still have time for unfunny hosts, political posturing and including non-actors in their In Memoriam segment while ignoring about a dozen real actors.

    • A proposal of marriage is a private offer by definition. Making it public without the consent of the proposee is per se unfair and changes the conditions of the transaction. If you can describe a surprise public proposal that is otherwise, I’d love to hear it. It’s a selfish and coercive stunt to pull on someone you love.

      • A woman hounds her boyfriend to quit dilly-dallying and propose to her, she tells him “I don’t care when you do it or where you do it or how you do it. Just do it.” He later then surprises her at the Emmy’s.

        • Agreed. Then he’s just hijacking an event for a personal agenda, but if she consents in advance…but is it consent? If a mass public proposal is not within her meaning, and it might not be, is that still ethical? Could he propose in the middle of a funeral service for her mother, for example? Did she consent to THAT?

          • My point being: These are personal decisions and only with true understanding of the intimate details and inner workings of a specific relationship can one make a proclamation of whether the method of proposal was ethical.

            On the other had, hijacking an event (by itself) is neither ethical or unethical – but stealing time; where time is a precious commodity and others pay for it, that’s unethical. If you pay to do the proposal at a sports stadium and the stadium sells you the opportunity, that’s a part of the business transaction. Some stadiums might even pay you to do it because they can set it up as an entertainment piece for everyone else in attendance.

            Obviously, any public proposal, if inappropriate and outside of her meaning, runs the risk of being rejected or nullified….

            This brings me to a salient point on life – people (and in this case, mostly single women) need to consider life’s possibilities and how they would react to things prior to being surprised by them. We can’t always be prepared for every surprise, but I would think it would be useful for a person to at least role-play to themselves how they would say “yes” and “no”.

  7. We need another acronym (I am being sarcastic). We have “TL;DR.”
    If we don’t already have it, we also need “DNW;DGAF.”
    (for “Did Not Watch; Don’t Give A…”)
    That applies in my case, to Emmys, Oscars, Tonys, Super Bowls, etc.

  8. As a longtime reader and occasional commenter, I have to admit that you were the first person I thought of the other morning when this was on the news, Jack… I knew you wouldn’t like it (I thought it was cheesy myself).
    MY proposal, though, probably falls into your category of unethical, because it indeed took place in public (a restaurant), and used about 30 young men from the WMU chapter of the national music fraternity singing a serenade to my then-girlfriend, now wife of 28+ years.

  9. My request of the only gal I ever asked started with a fib.

    It was mid-December and as her Father was getting ready to depart for Gulf Shores, he stopped by to say goodbye on the street adjacent to my and my intended’s houses.

    After asking him for his permission, I swore him to secrecy so it would be a surprise, and he started to cry. She’d been watching from her deck, and by the time he got to her place his eyes were still misty.

    She asked why he was crying, so I told her that when he realized how much he was going to miss me (heh!) he was moved to tears.

    On Christmas Eve (after waiting for what seemed like forever for her and my future SIL to leave after they polished off all their wine, my vitals red-lining in the interim) the set-up was contritely confessing that I hadn’t been entirely truthful about the reason he was crying.

    It caught her so completely off guard that there was just silence for ~ minute, which seemed like an eternity. I actually had to remind her she hadn’t responded, which she then did; mercifully in the affirmative.

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