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CBS made a game-changing move earlier in July with the decision to fire Peter Lenkov after multiple behind-the-scenes complaints of inappropriate behavior. Lenkov had been the showrunner on three successful Friday night series, comprised of MacGyver, Magnum P.I., and Hawaii Five-0 before that series wrapped in the spring. Now, MacGyver star Lucas Till has spoken out about his treatment by Lenkov. The actor revealed that Lenkov's behavior made him "suicidal."
Lucas Till spoke with Vanity Fair just before the news broke that Peter Lenkov was out at CBS, and stated that despite Lenkov's frequent absence from the actual MacGyver set, he was responsible for the hostile work environment. Till said:
I’ve never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work. But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel. But the way he’s treated the people around me—that’s just my breaking point.
MaGyver has aired for four seasons so far, with the latest cut short due to abrupt production halts, and Lucas Till is slated to play Mac for the fifth season whenever CBS is able to give the go-ahead for production to restart in earnest. Executive producer Monica Macer replaces Peter Lenkov as showrunner, as was announced after the news that multiple complaints had led to the network cutting ties with the previously prolific showrunner.
Although the initial news of Peter Lenkov's firing didn't name any names regarding the sources of the complaints, Lucas Till was seemingly one of them. The actor's reported concerns evidently resulted in the HR inquiry that resulted in Lenkov leaving CBS, and Till sent a five-page letter to CBS TV's head of human resources will allegations of unprofessional behavior.
In the email to CBS' human resources department, Lucas Till detailed some of his complaints about Peter Lenkov, which were centered on his body and body shaming him. Till wrote:
There was always something about my appearance that wouldn’t please him like when I was in a hospital gown and our producer…thought it was funny that [Lenkov] said my legs were ‘fucking hideous’ and we can never show them again. Honestly, I found some humor in that comment as well, but you can imagine if that was a more sensitive spot that he had hit, and often did. Just like the time he screamed at [a director] ‘Oh, my fucking God! Tuck his shirt in, he looks like a little fucking boy.’ Just hire a 35 year old then... I’ve struggled with maintaining ‘man weight’ on the show because of the stress, no time to work out, and an unpredictable schedule for proper nourishment.
Lucas Till's email to HR in May 2020 came 15 years after Peter Lenkov's first major project on CBS, when he worked as a co-executive and then executive producer on CSI: NY from 2005-2010, after which he created the Hawaii Five-0 reboot. Hawaii Five-0 ran for ten seasons despite generating some controversy over the departures of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park.
Peter Lenkov expanded the TV universe of Hawaii Five-0 (which technically already connects with all things NCIS) by creating the MacGyver reboot, which launched in 2016. The new take on Magnum P.I. premiered in 2018. He was a fixture on CBS for a long time and on some of the network's biggest shows.
That said, the network has seemingly guaranteed that the transition behind-the-scenes should be as smooth as possible. Hawaii Five-0 has ended, and the replacement showrunners on both MacGyver and Magnum P.I. already worked on their respective shows. Hopefully Lucas Till and all of those who were uncomfortable under Peter Lenkov's management will feel some relief when the new seasons begin.