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CBS Boss Defends Bull Renewal After Michael Weatherly Accusations: 'People Continued to Watch'

"Michael is loved by our audience"

Amanda Bell

CBS is once again defending its decision to renew Bullin the wake of sexual harassment allegations against its star, Michael Weatherly.

CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday that the decision was at least partially informed by the lack of change in viewership as a result of the allegations becoming public. "It's a show that does very well. It's a very popular show. More than 10 million people watch every week. Michael is loved by our audience and even after these allegations came out people continued to watch," said Kahl. "It's a popular show that we want to keep on the air. And it's a very good show as well."

CBS Boss Defends Bull Renewal: Michael Weatherly 'Made a Mistake'

Weatherly was accused of harassment by former recurring guest star Eliza Dushku, whose allegations were first revealed in late 2018 when an unrelated investigation uncovered a $9.5 million settlement between CBS and Dushku. The actress claimed she was fired from the show after confronting Weatherly about his behavior on the set, and after the agreement came to light, she spoke out about the behavior in question. According to Dushku, it included a documented incident involving Weatherly asking her to visit his "rape van, filled with all sorts of lubricants and long phallic things" as well as mocking his own prior sexual harassment training by shouting the words "yellow card."

Kahl previously defended the show's fourth season renewal in May, saying that Weatherly "owned the mistake" and "was willing to take any kind of coaching or training" they deemed necessary. On Thursday, Kahl confirmed that Weatherly, as well as the entire cast and crew, agreed to participate in a leadership training series meant to coach them on "how to set a positive example for everybody."

"We found out about the settlement at the same time that you did. We took a 360 view of the entire situation when we found out about that. We wanted to look at it with fresh eyes. What we found was, in Michael's case, no incidents, no complaints at his time at Bull and none on either side of the isolated incident on Bull. He was, at the time, remorseful and apologetic. When the settlement came out and was made public, he was remorseful again and apologized," said Kahl.

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"He is undergoing coaching right now -- leadership coaching. He is taking his responsibility as the head of a show to make a set a positive place to work," Kahl continued. "We were just there last week and the entire cast and crew had just undergone some training before the start [of the season]. They're all in a good place. [Showrunner] Glenn [Gordon Caron] is also undergoing leadership training. It has started and it will continue in the future."

Kahl did admit, however, that the training was not mandated by CBS, but it was agreed to by everyone on set, and that the training is now being extended to the cast and crew involved in all of CBS's shows.

"All of our shows, everyone top to bottom, is receiving training now," said Kahl. "We've had the situations with bad behavior from showrunners ... I can't add a lot more to it than the expectation of our showrunners is very clear that they will run a very welcoming set for everyone on it, from top to bottom."

Bull returns to CBS for Season 4 on Monday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c.

(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)

Additional reporting by Kaitlin Thomas


Michael Weatherly, Eliza Dushku and Charlie Semine, Bull

Barbara Nitke/CBS