Ben Stiller, Destry Spielberg Dispute Hollywood Nepotism in Fight with Franklin Leonard

Frazer Harrison; Jean-Baptist Lacroix; Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison; Jean-Baptist Lacroix; Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images

Actor Ben Stiller and filmmaker Destry Spielberg have disputed the role nepotism plays in Hollywood, telling Black List founder Franklin Leonard that the focus should be on hard work and individuality.

Destry Spielberg, the daughter of Steven Spielberg, took issue with a tweet from Franklin Leonard that appeared to mock her new short film The Rightway, which stars Hopper Penn, the son of Sean Penn, and is written by Owen King, the son of novelist Stephen King.

“Hollywood’s a meritocracy, right?” Leonard tweeted sarcastically, setting off a chain reaction of replies.

Ben Stiller, the son of actor Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, replied, “Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.”

Stiller added: “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.”

Leonard chimed in again, saying, “I don’t for a second doubt that they’ve all faced challenges. They’re human. 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?”

Destry Spielberg initially disputed Leonard’s tweet, saying her accomplishments are the result of hard work.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 24: Steven Spielberg (L) and Destry Spielberg attend the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

“I am just a young aspiring female filmmaker who admires the art of cinema,” she wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted, according to a report from Variety. “People can argue nepotism, but I know deep down that I worked hard to get where I am and it wasn’t easy. Beyond proud of this film and proud of the team it took to make it.”

She later added: “I acknowledge that I was born with privilege! I own that through and through! I make it my mission to bring new talent into the industry & give opportunities to artists of all backgrounds. No one should be left out because of the connections they don’t have.”

The Twitter spat has drawn enough industry attention that ABC’s The View spotlighted the feud in a segment that aired Thursday.

Watch below:

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