Friday 23 August 2019

CBS stands by Bull star in wake of Eliza Dushku misconduct claim

Dushku has said she was written off the show after complaining that lead actor Michael Weatherly made jokes involving rape in front of cast and crew.

Michael Weatherly stars in Bull (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Michael Weatherly stars in Bull (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

By Lynn Elber, Associated Press

US legal drama Bull will remain on air despite Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Eliza Dushku’s claim of on-set sexual harassment against its lead actor Michael Weatherly.

Weatherly and the drama’s executive producer, Glenn Gordon Caron, are receiving “leadership coaching”, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl said.

The actor is taking responsibility “as the head of a show to make the set a positive place to work,” she added.

Dushku has said she was written off Bull after complaining that Weatherly remarked on her appearance and made jokes involving sex and rape in front of cast and crew in early 2017.

Last year, the allegation and a 9.5 million dollar confidential settlement reached with Dushku were made public in a report by The New York Times.

Michael is loved by our audience and even after these allegations came out, people continue to watch Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment

In a Q&A session with TV critics, Kahl was peppered with questions about Dushku’s allegations, including that Caron abruptly fired her after she complained about Weatherly and dismissed the actor’s actions as “frat behaviour”.

Kahl was asked what signal other producers are getting if the network’s response to Caron was limited to training, which the executive said was intended to make them the “strong and good and fair leaders” they want to be.

Kahl said: “I think that we’ve had some other situations with bad behaviour from showrunners. In any situation where we receive information or hear something is askew on a show, we investigate.

“That’s what happened on Bull. And there was a settlement that was reached.”

The executive said that it has been made clear to producers that they must run “a welcoming set for everyone from top to bottom”.

Kahl was reminded that production company Amblin Entertainment ended its work on Bull after CBS renewed the series despite Dushku’s claims. The show returns for its fourth season in September.

“More than 10 million people watch every week,” Kahl replied. “Michael is loved by our audience and even after these allegations came out, people continue to watch. So it’s a popular show that we want to keep on our air … and it’s a very good show, as well.”

The issue of sexual misconduct has beset CBS at the highest levels. Former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, one of TV’s most influential figures, was ousted last September after allegations from women who said he subjected them to mistreatment including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

In its 2018 story reporting the Dushku matter, the New York Times said details, including the settlement, became known when the CBS board hired outside lawyers to examine misconduct claims against Moonves and to look into CBS as a whole.

PA Media

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