Golden Globes 2018: Red carpet and live updates

At a Golden Globes which has already tossed out the rulebook and seen a female-led revolution that turned the red carpet into a sea of black, there was always going to be one conversation that drilled to the heart of the issue.

That came when Will & Grace star Debra Messing stepped into frame with the E! channel's Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet of the star-studded event.

Messing was E!'s first guest and she delivered a sucker-punch straight to the bruised heart of a network which stands accused of not paying its female presenters the same as its male presenters.

"Time is up, we want diversity, we want intersectional gender parity, we want equal pay," Messing said, referring to the decision by Hollywood's A-list women to wear black to the event in a move intended to draw attention to sexual inequality and sexual harassment in the workplace.

And then came the sting.

"I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn't believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts," Messing said.

The brutally direct reference stems from the recent resignation of anchor Catt Sadler, who quit after discovering that her male counterpart was paid significantly more than her.

"When E! reached out to renew and extend my deal, I learned that he wasn't just making a little more than I was. In fact he was making close to double my salary for the past several years," Sadler said at the time.

Messing told Rancic she stood with Sadler.

"I miss Catt Sadler and so we stand with her," Messing said.

"And that's something that can change tomorrow," the Will & Gracestar added. "We want people to start having this conversation that women are just as valuable as men."

Rancic, to her credit, agreed.

E! took a bruising PR hit from the resignation, but defended paying Sadler's male co-host more because he performed additional duties.

The network "compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender," a spokesman said.

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