Actor Eliza Dushku has slammed CBS and her former “Bull” co-star Michael Weatherly in a scathing story for the Boston Globe that details the allegations of harassment that led to her $9.5 million settlement with the network earlier this year.
“I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired,” Dushku states in the first-person story published on Wednesday.
Dushku asserts that in addition to the money, she demanded as part of the settlement that CBS send a sexual harassment expert to monitor Weatherly’s conduct on the set. She also asserts she was promised a meeting with Steven Spielberg, head of Amblin Partners, which produces “Bull” with CBS Television Studios. Dushku writes that she has yet to meet with Spielberg.
Dushku says the settlement included a non-disclosure agreement, but that she decided to come forward after reading what she described as “deflection, denial, and spin” from the network, Weatherly, and “Bull” showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron in a report last week by the New York Times on the previously undisclosed settlement. Dushku joined the show at the end of its first season with the expectation of becoming a regular cast member in Season 2. But she was written off the show after three episodes as a result of her clashes with Weatherly.
Dushku writes of experiencing sophomoric behavior from Weatherly that allegedly included him making comments about wanting to have a “threesome” with her and many other sexually charged remarks. When she complained to the studio, Dushku asserts that Weatherly worked to have her fired, accusing her of having a “humor deficit.”
Representatives for CBS and Amblin Partners declined to comment. A rep for Weatherly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What is hardest to share is the way (Weatherly) made me feel for 10 to 12 hours per day for weeks,” Dushku writes. “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.”
Dushku’s comments come as CBS is grappling with the fallout from the sexual misconduct scandal that led to the ouster of longtime chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves in September.
Dushku asserts that Weatherly frequently “bragged” about his friendship with Moonves.
“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,” Dushku writes.
Dushku describes numerous crude comments she received from Weatherly and writes that her allegations are supported by footage from filming and rehearsals that were used as part of her settlement. CBS paid her a portion of what she would have earned on the show over a standard six-season contract.
During her relatively short time on the show in the spring of 2017, Dushku writes that she faced numerous disturbing incidents with her co-star.
“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 writes. “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.’ “
Dushku’s revelations add to the extreme pressure on CBS Corp. and its senior management to address harassment allegations and complaints about hostile working environments in areas of CBS including CBS News.
CBS commissioned an internal investigation after numerous women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves. That probe turned up enough damning incidents to deny Moonves his $120 million severance payment, as CBS confirmed on Monday. It also examined the culture of CBS Corp. as a whole and found that while harassment was not “pervasive,” there was a significant need for tougher enforcement of existing policies against stars and prominent executives and for better training of management.