CBS president on Bull renewal: Michael Weatherly 'admitted to that mistake'
CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl defended his decision to keep Bull on the air by saying star Michael Weatherly — who was accused of sexual harassment by former costar Eliza Dushku — “is honest in his remorse” and we “personally believe he can make a mistake and he admitted to that mistake.”
“What happened was something that a lot of us didn’t know about,” said Kahl of the incident last winter, which first became public in a New York Times article that included a statement from Weatherly. “We found out when you found out. When it came time to make a decision, we looked at it through a fresh lens, with new eyes, because a lot of us were learning about it for a first time. We reassessed what happened. First and foremost, Michael made a mistake in his comments, he owned that mistake, he apologized at the time. He was remorseful and he apologized again when it came out. He indicated he was willing to take any kind of coaching, whatever training deemed necessary to create a positive environment.”
In December, Dushku wrote a 2,300-word account for the Boston Globe slamming Weatherly and Bull writer-producer-turned-showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron, saying Weatherly’s harassment went beyond jokes (some of which were captured on tape by production). “The tapes show his offer to take me to his ‘rape van, filled with all sorts of lubricants and long phallic things.’ There was also his constant name-calling, playing provocative songs (like ‘Barracuda’) on his iPhone when I approached my set marks, and his remark about having a threesome.” Dushku’s character was written off and she was paid $9.5 million – the amount she would have earned had she remained on the show as a potential love interest for Weatherly. Insiders say it was Caron who didn’t like the character because he “wanted to write Bull, not Moonlighting.”
Kahl said though Bull remains on the air, the network has put a number of safeguards in place to protect potential victims in the future – including an anonymous phone line and email address to lodge complaints, and having “trained HR professionals visiting all our sets on a regular basis.”
As for Weatherly, his long relationship with CBS also made a difference. “We looked at the totality of his work,” said Kelly. “He’s been with us for 14 years. There’s never been any complaint. I believe he took everything seriously. He wants to move forward. He’s a dad, he’s upset by this, he wants to make it better.”
Michael Weatherly stars as Dr. Jason Bull, a character inspired by Dr. Phil.