Eliza Dushku has publicly decried CBS for abetting sexual harassment from Michael Weatherly on the set of Bull.
In an op-ed published by The Boston Globe this week, the actress alleged that she was fired from the show after complaining about Weatherly's inappropriate remarks. She wrote, "[CBS] retaliated against me for simply asking to do my job without relentless sexual harassment. This is not a 'he-said/she-said' case."
Dushku, known for her roles as Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Missy in Bring It On, received $9.5 million from CBS as a part of a confidential settlement. However, last week The New York Times reported on the complaints Dushku made about Michael Weatherly's behavior on set, eliciting responses from the actor and writer-producer Glenn Gordon Caron that minimized the male lead's inappropriate remarks.
Weatherly claimed, "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."
CBS issued a statement confirming the settlement and also tried to mitigate the actress's complaints as par for the course in establishing workplace harmony. On Wednesday, the network stated, "The allegations in Ms. Dushku's claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done."
In contrast, Dushku penned an open letter excoriating Weatherly and the network for creating and condoning "workplace bullying." She wrote, "What is hardest to share is the way (Weatherly) made me feel for 10 to 12 hours per day for weeks. This was classic workplace harassment that became workplace bullying. I was made to feel dread nearly all the time I was in his presence. And this dread continues to come up whenever I think of him and that experience."
According to Dushku, CBS owns footage of rehearsals during which Weatherly made sexual remarks about wanting a threesome with her and making unwanted advances. She alleges, "Weatherly had a habit of exaggerated eye-balling and leering at me; once, he leaned into my body and inhaled, smelling me in a dramatic swoon." Dushku adds, "As was caught on tape, after I flubbed a line, he shouted in my face, 'I will take you over my knee and spank you like a little girl.' "
Furthermore, Weatherly reportedly "bragged" about his friendship with CEO Leslie Moonves, who's been ousted from the network amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Dushku writes, "He regaled me with stories about using Moonves's plane, how they vacationed together, and what great friends they were. Weatherly wielded this special friendship as an amulet and, as I can see now, as a threat."
Despite being hired at the end of season one with CBS planning to make her a series regular in season two, Dushku was only given appearances in the last three episodes of season one of Bull. She claims that Weatherly's "constant name-calling" and "distasteful remarks" (such as announcing, "Here comes legs!" whenever she walked on set) led to her confront the show's star in his trailer. In response, she found "the boys' club remains in full force at CBS," with Weatherly dismissing her discomfort as a "humor deficit." Showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron wrote her off "within 48 hours" of her complaint.
The question remains if CBS will pursue legal action in response to Dushku's condemning letter; the actress' settlement with the network included a non-disclosure agreement in addition to $9.5 million. However, after both Weatherly and the network commented to The New York Times when they reported on the settlement, Dushku felt compelled to break her silence.
She wrote, "I declined to be interviewed for that piece because I wanted to honor the terms of my settlement with the network." She added that she was "under the impression" the CBS employees involved would decline to comment. "Instead, all commented to the Times in what amounted to more deflection, denial, and spin."
As of Thursday, neither Weatherly or CBS have commented on Dushku's open letter.
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