CBS stands by ‘Bull,’ its star in wake of misconduct claim

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — “Bull” star Michael Weatherly remains loved by viewers despite Eliza Dushku’s claim of on-set sexual harassment against him, CBS said in defending its decision to keep the show and the actor on the air.

Weatherly and the drama’s executive producer, Glenn Gordon Caron, are receiving “leadership coaching,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said Thursday.

The actor is taking responsibility “as the head of a show to make the set a positive place to work,” Kahl said.

Dushku has said she was written off “Bull” after complaining that Weatherly remarked on her appearance and made jokes involving sex and rape in front of cast and crew in early 2017. Last year, the allegation and a $9.5 million confidential settlement reached with Dushku were made public in a report by The New York Times.

In a Q&A session with TV critics, Kahl was peppered with questions about Dushku’s allegations, including that Caron abruptly fired her after she complained about Weatherly and dismissed the actor’s actions as “frat behavior.”

Kahl was asked what signal other producers are getting if the network’s response to Caron was limited to training, which the executive said was intended to make them the “strong and good and fair leaders” they want to be.

“I think that we’ve had some other situations with bad behavior from showrunners,” said Kahl, referring to the producers in charge of a series. “In any situation where we receive information or hear something is askew on a show, we investigate.”

Kahl said: “That’s what happened on ‘Bull.’ And there was a settlement that was reached.”

The executive said that it’s been made clear to producers that they must run “a welcoming set for everyone from top to bottom.”

A request for comment from Caron was made to the law firm representing him. There was no immediate reply.

Kahl was reminded that production company Amblin Entertainment ended its work on “Bull” after CBS renewed the series despite Dushku’s claims. The show returns for its fourth season in September.

“More than 10 million people watch every week,” Kahl replied. “Michael is loved by our audience and even after these allegations came out, people continue to watch. So It’s a popular show that we want to keep on our air … and it’s a very good show, as well.”

The issue of sexual misconduct has beset CBS at the highest levels. Former CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, one of TV’s most influential figures, was ousted last September after allegations from women who said he subjected them to mistreatment including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

In its 2018 story reporting the Dushku matter, the Times said details, including the settlement, became known when the CBS Corp. board hired outside lawyers to examine misconduct claims against Moonves and to look into CBS as a whole.