The investigation into Les Moonves and his network has revealed another show with an allegedly toxic work environment. The New York Times uncovered the story of Eliza Dushku’s claims of harassment on and firing from Bull. The show stars CBS mainstay Michael Weatherly, who allegedly made rape jokes and sexual propositions to Dushku on set. Other crew members took their cues from Weatherly and also began mistreating Dushku, who earlier this year claimed to have been molested on the set of True Lies when she was 12. Shortly after bringing up her mistreatment on set, Dushku found herself written out of the series. “[A] top CBS lawyer tried to undermine her claims with what investigators described as an ‘antiquated’ view of how a woman should comport herself in the workplace,” wrote Rachel Abrams and John Koblin.
The CBS investigation describes multiple instances of verbal harassment from Weatherly. When she came to work in a suit, Weatherly commented “here comes legs.” Another time, he volunteered to bend Dushku over his knee and spank her. He implied that she wanted to have a threesome with him and another actor, and told her to get into his “rape van.” In the Times article, Weatherly characterizes all these instances as pertaining to his character and/or script. Duskhu took her concerns to writer/producer Glenn Gordon Caron, who suggested Dushku approach Weatherly. After she did so, Dushku found herself written off what was supposed to be a four-season role. During mediation, CBS released outtakes from the show to outside investigators. Their hope was that footage of Dushku cursing would prove their case. Instead, the tapes showed some of the harassment. CBS ended up settling for $9.5 million, approximately what Duskhu would have received for four years on the show.
Bull is one of many CBS shows now believed to be hostile for female employees. Charlie Rose of This Morning was accused of sexual misconduct by several women. Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes, left the network amid accusations that he promoted a culture of sexual harassment. And NCIS: New Orleans producer Brad Kern has undergone multiple investigations into claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment for women and people of color.
Update, December 15: It’s now come to light that the embattled former CEO of CBS, Les Moonves, was personally responsible for overseeing Dushku’s settlement. Per Deadline, the $9.5 million payment was “sneaked into Bull’s production budget” in an effort to avoid “the sum popping up on the company’s books.” Moonves left the company in September, stemming from his history of sexual harassment and assault against women.