E!, as a rule, is better known for Kardashians than activism, but the upcoming “Citizen Rose” is a new look for the network. The limited series chronicles actor/activist Rose McGowan’s life in the wake of the revolution that has taken down industry figures like Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK, which she was instrumental in making happen by speaking out.
“Citizen Rose” is the latest iteration of McGowan’s ongoing campaign to, as she put it bluntly, “try to stop international rapists and child molesters.”
McGowan told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour Tuesday that she first began filming footage for “Citizen Rose” three years ago, when she also began trademarking “Rose Army” in all its forms.
When McGowan first began planning to speak out, she discovered that she didn’t know how to talk on camera without a script, and in the time that followed, she had to “train myself for three years just to exist as me.” But she felt it was important for the show to represent her reality as closely as possible. “It’s all-access. It’s not always pretty. It’s raw and it’s true and it’s my truth,” McGowan said.
McGowan brought the project to Bunim-Murray Productions because “I wanted assassins in the best way,” with filming beginning in earnest last August through the entirety of the fall. (Filming is still ongoing.)
According to executive producer/showrunner Andrea Metz, speaking to press after the panel, Weinstein is never once referred to by name in the documentary, either referred to as “H.W.” or “the monster.”
While Metz and the other producers knew McGowan’s story when they began filming, they had no idea that the New York Times and New Yorker profiles which would lead to Weinstein’s exile from the industry were in the works — though McGowan had promised them that “something was coming” and that “it would be worth it.”
During the panel, McGowan spoke passionately to reporters about the ways in which “your peers — a lot of them” have misrepresented her in the press, also noting that while E! has recently come under fire for pay disparity between its male and female talent, “if you’re a male reporter doing the same job as a woman, I almost guarantee you you’re being paid more.”
Bringing the show to E! was the right decision, she felt, because it would be more “egalitarian” than Netflix or HBO. “I wanted to be like Gertrude Stein and have a conversation with the world,” she said.
That said, she doesn’t mind the label reality TV “because this is reality — it’s mine.”
The series, for McGowan, is just one milestone in her story. “Do you understand what I’ve been through for 20 years?” she said. “It is not an accident that I am sitting here. I earned it.”
“Citizen Rose” premieres Tuesday, January 30 at 8 p.m. on E! as a two-hour special. It will be followed by a four-part limited series later this spring.