Netflix Replaced Head of Original Content Cindy Holland Two Days Before ‘Cuties’ Debut

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 23: VP Original Series, Netflix Cindy Holland attends "Russian Doll" Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix

Netflix replaced its head of original content Cindy Holland just two days before the controversial movie Cuties debuted Thursday on the streaming service.

The executive shake-up came as a complete surprise to many in Hollywood since Holland has worked at Netflix for 18 years and was widely regarded as a key architect of the company’s transformation into a full-fledged Hollywood studio.

Cindy Holland is set to officially leave the company next month. Two executives will oversee Netflix’s original content in her place — Scott Stuber, who already heads original movies, and Bela Bajaria, who will take on the role of vice president of global TV.

It remains unclear what prompted Holland’s abrupt departure. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said it was a result of his desire to streamline the team’s organizational structure.

“Since becoming co-CEO, I’ve wanted to simplify the way our content teams operate,” he reportedly said in a statement. “These kinds of changes are never easy, and I am enormously grateful to Cindy Holland for everything she has done over the last 18 years at Netflix.”

The surprise announcement of Holland’s departure came on Tuesday, just two days before Cuties debuted on Netflix. The French-language Cuties (Mignonnes) has provoked a sharp backlash over scenes depicting underage girls dancing in a highly sexualized manner. The hashtag #CancelNetflix reached the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter  on Thursday afternoon.

Netflix acquired Cuties in January after it screened to great acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. The trouble for Netflix began in August when the streamer rolled out the trailer and poster for the movie, featuring clips and still photos of the dance scenes in question.

The ensuing social media backlash prompted Netflix to issue an apology. “We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”

But the movie continues to cause trouble for Netflix. Approximately 600,000 people have signed a petition pledging to cancel their Netflix subscriptions because of Cuties and other objectionable content.

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