In early 2018, an unexpected shake-up happened on Netflix’s family sitcom Fuller House when creator Jeff Franklin, who also created the flagship Full House, was shown the door not long after the order for Season 4 was made official. Franklin later filed a lawsuit that blamed current showrunner Bryan Behar for his unjust removal, but Warner Bros. seemingly refuted those claims by making public the investigations and allegations from the Fuller House creative team that actually led to Franklin’s removal.
The First Investigation
Jeff Franklin claimed in his lawsuit that Bryan Behar maliciously compiled unflattering and potentially fabricated information to use against the Fuller House creator, with Franklin saying that the #MeToo movement was a motivational factor. However, according to the sworn declaration submitted to the Los Angeles Superior Court (via THR) by WB’s VP of labor relations Silisha Platon, the first investigation into Franklin’s workplace conduct started up in 2016 ahead of the initial allegations made against Harvey Weinstein that kicked the movement off.
At that time, it’s reported that an in-house probe was completed following a complaint being made about Jeff Franklin’s behavior on the set of Fuller House. Through other follow-up interviews, those conducting the investigation became concerned about allegations detailing how Franklin treated male and female writers unequally, as well as how the former show runner dealt with pregnant women requesting time off for required doctor appointments.
Despite all that, however, that investigation ended without any big changes happening behind the scenes. It’s stated that Jeff Franklin was the recipient of some verbal counseling in regards to how he was meant to be appropriate and professional while in a business environment. It would appear that counseling only went so far, however.
The Second Investigation
This is where things get quite a bit more comprehensive in the accusations dept. Silisha Platon’s declaration states that a new complaint was received in November 2017 claiming that Franklin had developed a toxic work environment for the Fuller House writing staff. It was then discovered that another female writer had voiced comparable claims against the then-showrunner.
At this point, a second investigation went underway, with Warner Bros. interviewing eight different Fuller House staffers about Jeff Franklin’s behavior. Here are some of the different allegations that were made.
He talked about multiple orgies he took part in over a weekend.
He asked for all the writers to visit his mansion, with various reminders for the women to bring their bikinis.
He spoke negatively of a woman potentially getting pregnant in the future, and allegedly said he wished he 'could make all the women on my staff get hysterectomies.’
He complained about requirements to hire women and people of color as Fuller House directors, and talked about female directors as being ‘all the same.’
He voiced a preference for using male writers.
Further allegations include Jeff Franklin making other sexualized comments, as well as apologizing to employees for not dating Jewish women.
The legal document also notes that Bryan Behar did contribute to the investigation via an interview. However, his comments were taken later in the process, and he was unable to verify the more egregious claims made against Jeff Franklin, and could only confirm some less offensive claims. As such, his testimony wasn’t deemed suitable enough to aid in the eventual conclusion that Franklin displayed inappropriate work behavior.
It would seem, then, that Warner Bros.’ Silisha Platon was able to directly refute Franklin’s own accusations against Behar, while also offering up multiple testimonies that validated cutting ties with the show’s initial developer.
Bryan Behar's Defense
To directly counter Jeff Franklin's lawsuit from a personal stance, Bryan Behar is aiming to get Franklin's claim stricken under California's anti-SLAPP law, which helps those who have been taken to court for exercising First Amendment rights over public issues. In any case, Behar stated he never even talked to the press about accusations made against Jeff Franklin.
If a judge sides with Bryan Behar on the matter, then the ball is in Jeff Franklin's court to prove that Behar had the direct intention of moving ahead professionally by making any claims to Franklin's detriment. Or if his comments were made with apparent hatred and ill will towards Franklin. If none of that happens, though, then Franklin's suit will likely get dismissed.
According to Behar's camp, the current showrunner simply had too little to do with Jeff Franklin's ousting to warrant his former employer's lawsuit. Considering the lead investigator claimed that Behar's testimony didn't factor into the studio's final decision, it will likely be difficult for Franklin to prove malice on Behar's behalf.
Though things may be rather fraught behind the scenes of Fuller House, the beloved Netflix comedy will be returning for a fifth and final season in the relatively near future. Expect to see some matrimonial bliss on display, but don't expect to see Aunt Becky taking part in the celebrations, since Lori Loughlin is still dealing with her own behind-the-scenes issues.