CBS is defending its controversial decision to bring scandal-plagued Bull back for a fourth season.The network last week renewed the procedural in the wake of a tumultuous year in which leading man Michael Weatherly was accused of sexual harassment by former co-star Eliza Dushku, who ultimately reached a $9.5 million settlement with CBS.
Immediately after the Season 4 pick-up, it was announced that Steven Spielberg, a #MeToo advocate and an EP on Bull via his Amblin shingle, had severed ties with the series in the wake of the Dushku situation (full story here).
“Michael made a mistake,” CBS’ entertainment prez Kelly Kahl told TVLine on Wednesday during an Upfronts Week presser. “He owned that mistake… he was apologetic at the time; he was remorseful… [Michael made himself open to] whatever coaching or training is necessary to create a positive environment on set. He took everything very seriously and wanted to move forward.
“When we looked at the totality of the situation,” Kahl continued, “we felt comfortable bringing it back on the air.”
In a stinging Boston Globe op-ed, Dushku outlined in great detail the atmosphere on Bull — including lewd comments Weatherly allegedly made toward her — that led to her lodging a formal complaint. She was fired not long afterward.
Weatherly denied having anything to do with Dushku being written off the show, but admitted that he engaged in behavior that was “both not funny and not appropriate,” adding, “I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.”
During Wednesday’s press conference, Kahl detailed new processes in place to ensure better work environments across all shows and sets. “However things were handled in the past, they are not being handled that way now,” he maintained. “There is no room to sweep anything under the rug.”