Eliza Dushku — the actress famous for appearing in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Bring It On” — got a $9.5 million settlement from CBS last year after she was written out of a show starring a male actor who made lewd jokes about her, according to a new report in the New York Times.
In 2017, Dushku signed on for an ongoing role in “Bull,” a CBS series starring the former “NCIS” actor Michael Weatherly. While they were on set together, in front of the cast and crew, Weatherly allegedly made comments about Dushku’s appearance, suggested a threesome with another cast member, and joked about rape, according to a draft of a CBS investigation report viewed by the Times. He also publicly threatened to put her over his knee and spank her, something Weatherly told the Times was just a joke.
“I ad-libbed a joke, a classic Cary Grant line from ‘Charade’ or ‘Philadelphia Story,’ and that meant not at all that that was an action I wanted to take,” Weatherly said.
But when Dushku spoke privately with Weatherly to register her objection to his sexual jokes, she was promptly written out the show — even though there were “well-developed plans” to bring her on for a multiseason arc.
Dushku eventually settled with CBS and was paid $9.5 million — roughly what she would have earned for appearing on four seasons of “Bull.”
The investigation report cites Dushku’s treatment as an example of a broader cultural treatment of women at CBS, where Les Moonves was recently ousted as CEO after several women accused him of sexual assault. In fact, the details about Dushku’s confidential settlement with CBS apparently emerged during an investigation prompted by the allegations against Moonves, who is also accused of attempting a coverup to protect his $120 million severance package.
“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 to the Times. “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 also told the Times that he regretted the comments he made to Dushku.
“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,” Weatherly said. “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.”
Cover image: NEW YORK - APRIL 10: 'Dirty Little Secrets'-- Bull works with J.P. Nunnelly (Eliza Dushku) on the first of three cases to repay her for defending Benny at trial, on an episode of the CBS Television Network's "Bull." (Photo by David M. Russell/CBS via Getty Images)