ABC Studios completed an investigation this year into alleged misconduct by Frankie Shaw, creator and star of the Showtime series “SMILF,” Variety has confirmed.
The studio launched a probe into Shaw’s behavior after being made aware of a complaint by Samara Weaving, an actress who appears in the show’s first and upcoming second seasons. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Weaving complained to co-star Rosie O’Donnell and a director during production of season two about being asked to perform a sex scene nude. (Weaving and co-star Miguel Gomez were eventually told they could film the scene in their underwear.) While speaking with O’Donnell, Weaving said that she had been made uncomfortable by Shaw’s behavior during production of a similar scene in season one.
O’Donnell is said to have passed Weaving’s complaint on to an executive at Showtime, which airs the series, who in turn spoke with compliance officials at ABC Studios and Showtime. The complaint then triggered a human resources investigation at ABC Studios, where the show is produced, which concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part. Weaving, however, was released from her contract at her request, and is not expected to join the show for a potential third season.
In addition, The Hollywood Reporter published a story Monday accusing Shaw of discriminatory behavior toward the show’s African-American writers.
“I’ve dedicated my career to creating platforms for underrepresented voices — both in front of and behind the lens,” Shaw said in a statement. “That’s why I felt so strongly that at least half of my crew on SMILF needed to be female, that we should create an intersectional workplace in which more than a third of writers were women of color, and that it was important I have female shadow directors on set. I am proud of the accomplishments and that all but one of SMILF’s 18 episodes over the first two seasons were directed by women, because these are my values and priorities and I am grateful for the support and contributions of the SMILF team in helping me to realize them.”
Shaw continued, “I work daily to create an environment in which everyone should feel safe, and in which I can continue to grow as a leader and manager. I am now and always have been open to hearing and addressing all concerns and issues that fall within my control. It pains me to learn that anyone felt uncomfortable on my set. I sincerely hope we can work together to resolve any and all issues, as I am committed to creating a workplace in which all people feel safe and heard.”
ABC Studios and Showtime, as well as representatives for Weaving, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“SMILF” was originally ordered to series at Showtime in May 2017. The series is based on Shaw’s Sundance Film Festival Jury Award-winning short film of the same name. The eight-episode first season debuted on Showtime on Nov. 8 of that year and was renewed for a second season three weeks later. Filming began on Season 2 back in June, with the season premiere set to air in January. In addition to starring on the series, Shaw serves as executive producer and showrunner.
The series has received mostly positive reviews from critics, with the first season holding an 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The show also garnered two Golden Globe nominations for its first season, both for best actress in a comedy series (Shaw) and for best comedy series.