CBS has addressed the controversial decision to renew Bull following sexual harassment allegations against star Michael Weatherly.
The procedural drama was recently picked up for a fourth season despite allegations brought against Weatherly by his costar Eliza Dushku, which resulted in a multimillion dollar settlement with the actress.
According to Entertainment Weekly, CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl defended his decision to keep Bull on the air at the network’s press upfronts presentation in New York City on Wednesday, saying Weatherly is “honest in his remorse,” adding, “We 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. “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 continued. “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.”
Dushku’s allegations were made public in December by The New York Times. According to the report, Dushku, 37, alleged Weatherly, 50, commented on her appearance, brought up a threesome, and made a rape joke in front of other cast and crew members.
According to the Times, Dushku was suddenly written off of Bull after she confronted Weatherly about the alleged incidents. She was awarded a $9.5 million settlement in December, about the same amount she would have made as a Bull cast member for four seasons.
Weatherly told the Times he regrets what he said and how he made his costar feel.
“During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” he said in a statement at the time. “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.”
On Wednesday, Kahl said though Bull remains on the air, the network has put a number of safeguards in place to protect potential victims in the future — including an anonymous phone line and email address to lodge complaints, and having “trained HR professionals visiting all our sets on a regular basis,” according to EW.
Weatherly’s long relationship with CBS was also taken into consideration.
“We looked at the totality of his work,” Kahl said. “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.”
In the wake of the scandal, Steven Spielberg‘s Amblin Television walked away from Bull. A rep for the production company confirmed to Deadline this week that Amblin TV and executive producers Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey are no longer working with the show.
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