It has been a tumultuous couple of days in the production offices of the CBS primetime drama “Bull”. First came the announcement that the network was renewing the hit show for a fourth season run, and then almost immediately came a polarizing dose of bad news: Steven Spielberg, and his production company Amblin Entertainment announced he was pulling out of all commitments to the program.
The abrupt announcement is actually a long-brewing ordeal with the program, as the star of the program, Michael Weatherly (DiNozzo, from “NCIS”) has been accused in credible fashion of sexual harassment on the set. The story came to light in December, when co-star Eliza Dushku was found to have received a significant settlement from the network. The payout resulted when she revealed inappropriate behavior by Weatherly to the producers and had been subsequently written off of the show as a result.
Her story was an extension from larger issues at the network when the CEO Les Moonves was forced from his post for sexual harassment of his own. An independent legal team was brought in to investigate the network’s atmosphere of tolerating sexual harassment. This was proven out to a degree in the Dushku case.
After she had raised her concerns CBS lawyers brought in video outtakes from the set they believed would show that the actress was actually provoking the behavior. What the videos ended up doing is show Weatherly’s behavior in blatant fashion, proving Dushku’s case for her. The legal team was seemingly oblivious to what the star was doing, in their zeal to prove their case against her.
The reason for the delay in the announcement of Amblin’s exit is a matter of the scheduling of the TV seasons. The production company had completed season-3 development and was in a holding pattern regarding any upcoming commitment. Meanwhile, in March it was reported that Dushku had been in discussions with Spielberg and other leaders of the Time’s Up organization. Spielberg, and his wife Kate Capshaw have been ground floor supporters of the women’s rights group.
As of now there is a bit of limbo for the program going forward. The show is based somewhat on the earlier career of Dr. Phil, as a courtroom jury consultant. Dr. Phil’s company Stage 29 Productions is also behind the show, and may need to begin taking on more of the financial duties if no further backers step in.
The other problem is whether CBS will change its decision on the program’s renewal. The Dushku settlement case was a black eye for the network following the Moonves ouster. Keeping the series “Bull” on the air could also keep those stories alive, as the network is working hard to put those accusations to rest.
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