Kathy Griffin talks Hollywood exile following Donald Trump mask photo: 'I was erased'

·3 min read

For Kathy Griffin, her slow return to Hollywood has been more of a resurrection than a comeback.

Griffin, who was the subject of widespread criticism in 2017 after holding a mask of former President Donald Trump covered in blood-red ketchup, said her alienation from the entertainment industry went beyond the disapproval of cancel culture.

"I wasn’t canceled," Griffin said in an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday. "I was erased."

Griffin told the publication she believes she's been blacklisted because she's a middle-aged woman who doesn't have a high-profile agency, film studio or television network invested in her career resurgence.

Even before the Trump mask controversy, the Emmy winner said her uncompromising nature as a public figure made it difficult to gain the support of industry higher-ups. "I honestly never had a desire to make enemies," Griffin said. "But I keep making enemies."

Kathy Griffin reveals lung cancer diagnosis, drug addiction and 'obsessive' suicidal thoughts

Comedian/actress Kathy Griffin attends the official opening of Paula Abdul's Flamingo Las Vegas residency "Paula Abdul: Forever Your Girl" at The Cromwell Las Vegas on October 24, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Comedian/actress Kathy Griffin attends the official opening of Paula Abdul's Flamingo Las Vegas residency "Paula Abdul: Forever Your Girl" at The Cromwell Las Vegas on October 24, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Background: Kathy Griffin says she doesn't regret Trump photo despite backlash, death threats

Griffin also revealed that in 2016, a request for a pay raise led to her getting an earful from the head of a major news network.

The comedian was set to host CNN's annual New Year’s Eve special with news anchor Anderson Cooper. But when Griffin reached out to Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, and asked for more money, claiming she was putting in more prep work into the special than Cooper, Zuker "started yelling at me," she said.

"He literally said something like, 'Who do you think you are calling here demanding a raise?' " Griffin recalled. "And then something came over me, and I just lost it. I just started screaming: I’m Kathy (expletive) Griffin, Jeff, that’s who I am."

"I would really feel a lot more comfortable showing up if I got paid what I deserve," Griffin said she told Zucker at the time.

After being fired, Griffin said she was rehired after she called Zucker and asked to have the hosting gig back, although her pay was cut by 20% (Initially, she was to be paid $80,000 per her contract).

Now, Andy Cohen hosts CNN's New Year's Eve special alongside Cooper. About Cohen taking over, Griffin said she's still angry. "This is a guy that I think kind of wanted to be me," she said. "And now he’s halfway there."

Anderson Cooper, left, and Andy Cohen, seen here in a photo promoting CNN's New Year's Eve special, were back this year for a very different Times Square celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anderson Cooper, left, and Andy Cohen, seen here in a photo promoting CNN's New Year's Eve special, were back this year for a very different Times Square celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In the interview Wednesday, Griffin also alluded to the role sexist double standards have played in her thorny public perception, citing controversial male celebrities including comedian Dave Chappelle, CNN commentator Jeffrey Toobin and "Succession" star Jeremy Strong.

"When you're an artist known for being 'difficult' and you’re a man, they write New Yorker profiles about you and then Aaron Sorkin writes an open letter in support," Griffin said, referring to Strong, whose serious approach to acting was recently highlighted in a New Yorker profile. "But when you’re 'difficult' and you’re a woman, they call you a pain…"

Related: The problem with Jeffrey Toobin's apology

After weathering the storms of her professional and personal life – Griffin had a portion of her left lung surgically removed last August following a cancer diagnosis – the former "Suddenly Susan" star said she is itching to reclaim her place in the world of stand-up comedy.

"I just want to get back to making people laugh," Griffin said, who recently appeared in the HBO Max crime dramedy "Search Party" this month. "More than anything else, that’s what has been robbed from me."

More: Kathy Griffin laughs about husband's own medical scare in video update after lung surgery

Contributing: Jenna Ryu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kathy Griffin talks Andy Cohen, Donald Trump, more in new interview

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