TVLine has learned exclusively how The Rookie will account for the sudden absence of Officer Talia Bishop, in the wake of Afton Williamson walking away from the ABC series in June.
An original cast member, Williamson explained in an Aug. 4 Instagram post that she parted ways with the procedural upon realizing that her allegations of sexual harassment (by a recurring guest star) and racial bullying (by the hair department) went largely unchecked by producers. (Read more on her allegations here.)
Williamson’s exit was first reported by TVLine in June; weeks later, the actress detailed the multiple issues she allegedly dealt with starting with the spring 2018 pilot shoot and throughout all of Season 1 — including the aforementioned harassment and bullying, as well as an instance of sexual assault at the wrap party. Ultimately, she claimed, “HR protocol was never adhered to following the above reports given by me to [showrunner Alexi Hawley], and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims.” So, when invited back for Season 2, Williamson says she instead “walked.”
Speaking with TVLine at the San Diego Comic-Con back on July 19, Hawley said it was “not really my place” to delve into the yet-to-be-revealed specifics of Williamson’s departure from the series; rather, everyone was waiting for the actress to come forth with a statement. But he did detail how her character would accordingly need to be written out.
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Because of the reprimand Officer Bishop received late in Season 1, after it was discovered that she omitted her felon of a foster brother from her police academy PHQ (personal history questionnaire), “She was never going to get a fair shake at the LAPD. So ultimately she’s transferring over to a federal agency,” Hawley said. “There she can start with a clean slate and hopefully rocket to the top of the ladder.” As such, Hawley said, “It is an organic” exit for the character, given the aforementioned storyline.
“Obviously, Talia was a huge part of our show and a great part of our show,” Hawley said. But the title character suddenly losing his original TO “gives us an opportunity to throw other obstacles in Nolan’s way.”
At TCA this week, when TVLine pressed ABC entertainment chief Karey Burke about Williamson’s allegations, she said, “I don’t have a lot of answers. I wish I had more.” The exec then declined to speculate on any possible recourse if the third-party investigation ordered by production house eOne confirms that HR protocols were in fact ignored. “Right now too much is unknown,” Burke explained. “It would be irresponsible of me to conjecture.”