Bull made headlines for some very unpleasant reasons back in late 2018 with the reveal that CBS paid former Bull actress Eliza Dushku millions following accusations of harassment against star Michael Weatherly. Such negative buzz could have motivated CBS to axe the series, even despite Weatherly's former NCIS costars defending him. Still, Bull was renewed for Season 4, but it didn't come without consequences.
Steven Spielberg, who had been an executive producer on Bull, and his Amblin TV production company pulled out of the show, reportedly due to the allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct leveled against the star. The departure fo Spielberg and Amblin felt like a big statement about the situation.
At the Summer TCA Press tour, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl weighed in on why CBS deemed it worth continuing Bull despite all the negative buzz and loss of Amblin, saying this:
Apparently, Bull's popularity was valuable enough to CBS that it was worth renewing for a fourth season. The ratings didn't suffer, and Michael Weatherly had had a presence on the network for a very long time thanks to his time as Tony DiNozzo on NCIS before he moved to his own primetime series.
Despite Michael Weatherly as a CBS MVP, there were still big reasons to doubt that Bull would score a renewal for Season 4 due to how weighty Eliza Dushku's accusations were and the fact that she received a settlement. Dushku stated that she was led to feel uncomfortable on the set of Bull due to behavior exhibited by Weatherly, reporting instances of Weatherly saying that he would spank her, referring to her as "legs," joking about threesomes, and joking about having a "rape van."
Eliza Dushku was reportedly going to join Bull as a regular prior to making her allegations, and she expressed a fear to her reps that Michael Weatherly would get her fired for speaking out. She was written out of Bull shortly thereafter, but reached a settlement that entitled her to $9.5 million, or how much she would have made as a regular over four seasons on Bull.
Although Bull may well continue for as long as CBS is happy with the ratings and popularity, Kelly Kahl did share that changes have been made in the aftermath of the controversy, including with regard to showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron:
The incident resulted in leadership coaching for Michael Weatherly, who "was remorseful" and apologetic about what happened. Hopefully the show will be a positive place of work for however much longer it lasts. For better or worse, the cast and crew at Bull also received training. Interestingly, Bull was not the only CBS series rocked by sexual harassment allegations in recent years.
Bull returns for Season 4 with Michael Weatherly at the forefront on Monday, September 23 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. It follows the premiere of two freshman shows hitting the Eye Network in the fall, among many others.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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