Eliza Dushku was paid $9.5 million by CBS after she alleged her Bull costar Michael Weatherly made several sexually suggestive comments and jokes to her on set.
The New York Times reported on Thursday, December 13, that the Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress, 37, who appeared in a guest arc on the first season of the show in 2017, was uncomfortable over comments that the former NCIS star, 50, made in front of the cast and crew about her appearance. According to the report, shortly after she confronted Weatherly about his behavior, she was written off the show, despite producer Glenn Gordon Caron saying he had plans to make her a series regular and a love interest for Weatherly.
After mediation with CBS, the network agreed to a confidential settlement that was the equivalent of what she would have earned if she’d remained on the show as a cast member for four seasons. The allegations and settlement came to light during an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct made by multiple women against the network’s former chief executive Les Moonves.
Speaking to investigators in September, one month after she wed Peter Palandjian, Dushku told them that Weatherly said, “Here comes legs,” on a day when she was wearing a suit and on another occasion he said in front of the cast and crew that he would bend her over his leg and spank her.
Another day, as they were filming on set, Dushku made a gesture with three fingers. Weatherly responded that she wanted to have a threesome with him and another male cast member, eliciting laughs from the crew and prompting one of the men to approach her and suggest that he would like to take part in the act. Duskhu was left feeling “disgusted and violated,” according to interview notes. Weatherly later said that he “ad-libbed” but wasn’t suggesting that they have sex.
In another scene, they were shooting in a windowless van, and while the cameras were rolling, the actor said he would take his costar to his “rape van,” which was filled with sex toys and lube.
“The scripted line in that scene was, ‘Hey, young lady, step into my windowless van,'” Weatherly said later. “I didn’t particularly like that line, so I joked, in order to highlight how distasteful the emphasis of the line was, about an ‘r. van,’ a rape van. Which, in retrospect, was not a good idea.”
When Dushku voiced her concerns to Caron, they agreed that she should approach Weatherly. After she did, Weatherly sent a text to the president of CBS Television Studios saying he wanted to talk about Dushku’s sense of humor. The exec replied that she made the show better, but within days of confronting her costar the Dollhouse alum was axed from the series, with Caron telling her he “didn’t know how to write” her into the show anymore, according to interview notes.
Eight months after the settlement was reached in January this year, Dushku sat down with lawyers investigating CBS’ handling of sexual misconduct claims related to its staff, including Moonves and Charlie Rose, who was fired from CBS This Morning. “You’re all I have at this point,” she told them. “My story is true and it’s really affected me, and I can’t talk about it.”
The Bring It On star declined to comment to the Times, but Weatherly apologized for his behavior in a statement to the newspaper. “During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” he said. “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.”
In a statement to Us Weekly, CBS said, “The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done. The settlement of these claims reflects the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular, and was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time.”
Earlier this year, Dushku claimed in a Facebook post that she had been molested by a stunt coordinator on the set of 1994’s True Lies when she was just 12. The man has denied her allegations.
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