The head of CBS on Thursday defended the network’s decision to continue airing the show “Bull” ― despite sexual harassment allegations against star and executive producer Michael Weatherly from actress Eliza Dushku ― by citing the legal drama’s popularity.
“It’s a show that does very well,” CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl said at the network’s presentation for the Television Critics Association. “It’s a very popular show. More than 10 million people watch every week. Michael is loved by our audience, and even after these allegations came out, people continued to watch. It’s a popular show we want to keep on our air, and it’s a very good show as well.”
Kahl also defended the decision by saying Weatherly was “remorseful and apologetic,” and “is undergoing leadership coaching.”
In December, The New York Times revealed that CBS paid Dushku a $9.5 million settlement, after she confronted Weatherly about what she said were inappropriate comments to her on set in 2017, including remarks about sex and rape.
The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse” actress — who appeared as a guest star on “Bull” and was reportedly being considered for a regular role — said that Weatherly discussed wanting to spank her, and suggested he wanted to have a threesome with her.
Dushku was written off the show, which she believes was meant as retaliation for speaking out about the alleged harassment.
In his initial apology, Weatherly claimed that Dushku misunderstood what was meant to be an “attempt at humor.”
“I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or can’t take a joke. I did not over-react,” the actress said in response, writing a Boston Globe op-ed in December. “I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”
Details of Dushku’s settlement came out of the network’s third-party investigation into the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct involving former CEO Les Moonves.
In her op-ed, Dushku, who had not been able to speak publicly about the settlement because of a nondisclosure agreement, blasted the network and called for a “culture change.”
Shortly after CBS announced the show’s renewal in May, director Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Television cut ties with “Bull.” Spielberg also reportedly met with Dushku and made a donation to Time’s Up.
At the time, Kahl similarly defended the decision to keep Weatherly and the show on air — in part by noting that Weatherly is “a dad, he’s a father.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.