Michael Weatherly has been a mainstay on television since his start on NCIS. Even after he left the long-running television drama, Weatherly stayed on the small screen with his show Bull. However, when his co-star Eliza Dushku spoke out about sexual misconduct allegedly committed by Weatherly, things began to look a little dicey.
Dusku claimed that Weatherly made inappropriate comments towards her while on set, and despite her attempts to go to producers, she was silenced through a secret settlement from the network. She also alleged that going to the producers cost Dushku her job, as she was supposed to be a series regular but her contract was "mutually terminated" during their settlement.
Weatherly apologized for his actions, acknowledging that what he did was not okay.
During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,. When Eliza told me that she wasn't comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized.
After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.
Things got worse for Bull when Steven Spielberg's production company Amblin TV backed out of the show, due to their ties with the #MeToo movement and not wanting to work with Weatherly after the allegations. According to Deadline, Spielberg sat down with Dushku and after their conversation, he didn't want to be associated with the show anymore.
"I actually spent the morning with the three heads of the Time's Up organization and Mr. Steven Spielberg," Dushku said in a March interview with Deadline. "We sat and brainstormed and discussed possible solutions for this systemic imbalance of power, the abuse and harassment that we've been seeing and hearing and experiencing and both in our industry and beyond."
There was cause for concern after this happened, with many people wondering if the show would be renewed. However, it seems as though CBS is sticking by one of their top earners, as they have renewed Bull for a fourth season. CBS president Kelly Kahl is standing by his decision to keep the show on their air, saying Weatherly is "honest in his remorse" and that those at the network "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," Kahl said of the controversy. "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."
Kahl admitted that Weatherly's tenure played a role in the decision to keep the show on the air.
"We looked at the totality of his work," said Kahl. "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."
The network is trying to learn from their mistakes however, saying they've added in extra safeguards to ensure potential future victims are protected. This includes an anonymous phone line and email to lodge complaints, as well as "trained HR professionals visiting all our sets on a regular basis."
It's an interesting move on the part of CBS, as they said goodbye to former head honcho Les Moonves after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Having a show with another accused person could prove to be detrimental to their network ratings. That being said, they've clearly done their research.