Ben Stiller is coming under fire on social media for downplaying the purported existence of favoritism in Hollywood after he came to the defense of a film project featuring several children of big-time Hollywood performers.
The film at the center of the discussion is titled, “The Rightway.” It is directed by Steven Spielberg’s daughter, Destry, and written by Stephen King’s son, Owen. The short film is also set to star Sean Penn’s son, Hopper, according to Deadline.
Stiller, 55, the son of late comedians and actors, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, appeared to take umbrage with fellow producer Franklin Leonard tweeting in jest to news of the short film, “Hollywood’s a meritocracy, right?”
Stiller then issued a retort, writing: “Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.”
Leonard responded to Stiller, writing, “I do, without fail, but I also think it’s important that we acknowledge those paths.”
Yet, the “Meet the Fockers” actor added in a follow-up tweet, “Just speaking from experience, and I don’t know any of them, I would bet they all have faced challenges. Different than those with no access to the industry. Show biz as we all know is pretty rough, and ultimately is a meritocracy.”
However, it took no time before the “Dodgeball” star was admonished by many on the social platform who slammed him for ignoring the history of rampant nepotism in Tinseltown.
“I know Ben *Stiller* is not on this bird app calling Hollywood a meritocracy lmaoooooooo,” tweeted author Preeti Chhibber, with another respondent adding, “WRONG. Show business works off nepotism & access. It has NOTHING to do with merit.”
Ben Stiller, left, is the son of actor and comedian Jerry Stiller. The late comedy veteran launched his career opposite wife Anne Meara in the 1950s. Meara passed away in 2015 while husband Jerry died May 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
“Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara’s son would like you to know that Hollywood ‘ultimately is a meritocracy.’” wrote another.
Leonard maintained his stance in his reply to Stiller’s claim that success and opportunities in Hollywood are primarily merit-based.
“I simply reject the claim that the industry is – in the short term or long term – a meritocracy. If it were, how do you explain the utter lack of diversity behind the camera? Lack of merit?” he wrote.
The dialogue persisted with Stiller writing, “100 percent agree. Diversity is much bigger issue. No question. And I see your point, access is access. So yes. I’m saying that untalented people don’t really last if they get a break because of who they are or know or are related to.”
Still, Leonard responded, “fundamentally disagree,” adding in another tweet, “We both know plenty of unqualified people who manage to stay employed for reasons other than their talent, though both of us have enough decorum not to name names.”