In addition to the sexual harassment allegations against former CBS CEO Les Moonves, the lawyers hired by the CBS board to investigate hostile workplace situations have turned up a $9.5 million payment made to actress Eliza Dushku, according to the New York Times.
Dushku was hired in 2017 to appear on three episodes of the series Bull, with an expectation that she would become full-time cast member. in 2017. Instead sexually charged remarks made on the set made the actress uncomfortable.
She confronted the show’s star, Michael Weatherly, who allegedly made some of the comments, and was later written off the show, according the a draft of the lawyers’ report, which was obtained by the Times.
Dushku received a confidential settlement off $9.5 million after going through a mediation process. According to the paper, the amount is roughly equal to how much the actress would have earned as a cast member on the show for four seasons.
The Times said that CBS confirmed paying the settlement.
“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,” CBS said in a statement. “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.”
Weatherly apologized in a statement to the Times.
“During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” Weatherly said in the statement. “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.”
Dushku did not comment to the newspaper but talked the the lawyers conducting the investigation for CBS. Her story was backed up by outtakes from the production of the show that shows some of the harassing behavior, according to the report.
The outtakes were provided by a senior lawyer at CBS who thought they would help the network’s case. The fact that the lawyer failed to see the harassing behavior caught on the tape showed how big the problems at CBS are, according to the report.
The Times previously reported that the lawyers investigating CBS made a preliminary determination that former CBS CEO Les Moonves could be fired for cause, which would mean he would not get the $120 million in severance payments called for in his contract.
It is unclear when the report will be presented to the CBS board.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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