Eliza Dushku was paid $9.5 million after Michael Weatherly harassed her


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I stopped writing about the Les Moonves-CBS issue because those stories got few comments, and the stories were incredibly depressing. Les Moonves created a culture of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault which permeated throughout all levels of CBS. He was a violent misogynist who loathed programming for or about women. He sexually harassed and abused dozens of women over the years as chairman and CEO of CBS. He used his power and authority to proposition women and then “punish” them if they said no to him or raised any kind of issue.

As I said, Les Moonves’ actions and attitude permeated down to all levels of CBS. But even this surprised me – Michael Weatherly is best known, to me, for playing a beloved agent on NCIS. Several years ago, Weatherly left NCIS and CBS kept him in-house, and gave his the lead role on Bull. In 2017, Eliza Dushku was brought in for a guest-star arc on Bull, and the producers liked her so much, they wanted to expand the character so she could be a full-time cast member. Only that didn’t happen, because Weatherly was profoundly gross to Dushku, and when she complained, the permanent role never appeared.

Eliza Dushku was paid $9.5 million by CBS in a secret settlement after she accused Michael Weatherly of harassment and was subsequently written off of Bull. The actress, 37, first came forward with the claims against her former costar following his inappropriate remarks at the beginning of their professional relationship, the New York Times reported. The pair had been working together on CBS’s primetime drama — Dushku joining the show in March 2017, playing a character that had a major three-episode arc, with plans to be added as a series regular.

Not long after her start, however, Weatherly, 50, allegedly commented on Dushku’s appearance, brought up a threesome, and made a rape joke in front of other cast and crew members, according to the Times. Dushku’s accusations and the settlement came to light as part of an investigation which is examining the behavior of the company’s former chief executive Leslie Moonves and the culture as a whole at CBS.

One particular instance, Dushku told investigators she made a gesture with three fingers and, in response, Weatherly allegedly made a crude comment about having a threesome with him and another cast member from Bull, the report obtained by the Times says. She also alleged that Weatherly would make comments publicly about bending her over his leg and spanking her and that when filming a scene with a windowless van, Weatherly said he would take her to his “rape van.”

His behavior was enough to make Dushku extremely uncomfortable, causing her to bring it to his attention, the Times reports. But only a short time after their confrontation, Dushku was stunned to learn that her once-promising character had been suddenly written off the show. As a result, Dushku signed a confidential settlement, granting her $9.5 million — approximately the same amount she would have made as a Bull cast member for four seasons, the Times reported.

Weatherly told the Times he regrets what he said and how he made his costar feel.

“During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” Weatherly said in the statement to the publication. “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. 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.”

[From People]

Michael Weatherly is disgusting. But honestly? The corporate culture allowed this to happen – Weatherly was clearly used to treating female coworkers that way with little to no repercussions. Because he had seen, time and time again, that CBS doesn’t give a sh-t about women, that women are interchangeable, that their stories and lives and agency aren’t important. Bull is still on the air, by the way. Michael Weatherly cost the network $9.5 million. And he makes $175,000 per episode of Bull. There’s zero evidence that the show or Weatherly’s career were hurt in any way because of Dushku’s settlement.

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Photos courtesy of CBS.

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82 Responses to “Eliza Dushku was paid $9.5 million after Michael Weatherly harassed her”

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  1. RBC says:

    Waiting for more women to come forward with stories about being harassed by MW.
    Wasn’t he and Jessica Alba a couple at one time?

  2. Carobell says:

    You don’t have a 9.5 Million paid out against you because of a few jokes. What a creep!

    • Betsy says:

      I was going to say. I don’t feel like this is the totality of his gross comments or behavior. Those comments were gross and inappropriate but I don’t even think that would have moved the harrsment needle at CBS.

    • Mia4s says:

      Please see my reply below to @Lucy2. I really think it’s important that these type of settlements are understood. The money was not “for” the harassment, it is for being wrongfully fired a losing the salary that would have come with the job. She showed evidence of harassment, and then she was able to show the damages she suffered by being fired. All that matters was there was harassment (doesn’t matter how “bad”) and when she asked for it to stop they fired her. Retaliation. If she had been kept on the show (and assuming the harassment stopped) they likely wouldn’t have had to pay her a cent except her regular contracted salary.

      • Scal says:

        What@mia said. She complained to Weatherly asking him to stop, and he went over her head to producers and show runners to get her fired. Said he was worried about her “lack of a sense of humor” Barf. That’s what CBS has to pay out for-the retaliation.

    • Kerfuffle says:

      You don’t. There’s some parts of the story missing in this recap.

      Dushku sued. And when it went to mediation CBS thought they were going to take her down with an outtake that involved Dushku swearing. But the inadvertently showed something that backed up Dushku’s claims and she won.

      • Caitrin says:

        When I read the NYT story about this last night, and it got to the bit about the outtakes, I audibly gasped. CBS’ attorney genuinely thought an outtake of her cursing was going to undermine Dushku’s case, but instead some of the harassment she documented was actually VERIFIED by the outtakes.

        Ooops, CBS. OOOPS.

        Anyhow, Eliza Dushku is a badass.

      • Lexa says:

        Yes! And the most frightening thing about the outtake thing, beyond how enraging the thought is that a women swearing can somehow undermine her claims of harassment, is that the CBS guy handling the issue very clearly could not see the harassment in the videos himself.

    • Original T.C. says:

      Well he seems to have gotten her fired or not hired for the season. Good for her for standing up and reporting him. #unsunghero and #badazz

  3. Digital Unicorn says:

    Hmm, I wonder if its him that Pauley Perrette was referencing to when she talked about issues with male cast members on CSI. I know a lot of people think it was Harmon (there were issues with his dog biting people) but it could have been both of them.

  4. BlueSky says:

    Once again it was more important to protect the abuser than the victim. And people wonder why women don’t come forward. This is what happens when you do…

  5. boredblond says:

    If this happened to her with only a limited timeline, it makes me wonder if there are charges and payoffs that have been kept quiet throughout the series.

  6. Mia4s says:

    The one bright spot in this story? The producers handed over outtakes they felt would help defend them because she was cursing in some of them (because CBS is run by 90 year old white men who cannot abide a woman cussing 🙄)….but the outtakes captured some of the harassment….
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    F**k you CBS and you Weatherly.

    • Lucy2 says:

      Wow.
      So either they didn’t bother to actually watch them or they would’ve seen harassment, or they did, and assumed the harassment was no problem? What the hell.

      That is a very hefty settlement, four years of salary upfront for no work, so it must’ve been pretty awful. Good for her for fighting for herself. I hope this is another signal of a change in the industry in the world as a whole. CBS should cut his salary if they’re not going fire him.

      • Mia4s says:

        I think it’s mostly the second, in that they didn’t think it was a problem. But I also smell a bit of the old ‘you can’t harass a woman who is not a “proper” lady’ attitude. 😒 So again I say…f**k them.

        The amount is reasonable. She didn’t get it for the comments, she got it because she was wrongfully terminated. It’s an important distinction because otherwise people start trying to weigh harassment as “worse” than other harassment. Again, the money is not for the harassment, it is for the retaliation that cost her the job:

        She was to be added as a series regular and was fired after she brought up the harassment. A series regular with a four year contract, 22 episodes (or so) a year. 9.5 million is about right for the salary she would have made. It’s likely even a bit low as she lost out on residuals, promotional opportunities, etc.

      • Dara says:

        Having gone through a mediation, my sense is that you usually don’t see an amount that substantial unless the other party thinks it is likely you could get much, much more should the case actually go to trial.

      • lucy2 says:

        That’s what I was thinking Dara.
        I get that it’s salary for wrongful termination, but it’s still a LOT of money, and they couldn’t even get it down to a percentage of that. She must have had a very strong case.

    • GogoRoboto says:

      I was laughing out loud when I read that part. Guess that backfired spectacularly to the tune of $9.5 million.

    • Scal says:

      It was the compliance officer at CBS which makes it even worse than the producer in my thoughts. That’s someone that’s paid and trained to know better.

      A woman swearing is worse that harassment in their minds. Ugh.

      • Mia4s says:

        “It was the compliance officer at CBS”

        OMG, you’re right! That’s so much worse!

        I fell down the rabbit hole last night reading about this and one interesting tidbit is that Weatherly was a particular favourite of Les Moonves. That’s one of the reasons he finished NCIS and immediately went on to a new CBS show (he also has a few shows as producer in development). It also makes added sense as it why he was protected. Now with Moonves gone and I imagine his higher up supporters soon “leaving to spend for time with their families… 🙄”. It will be interesting if Weatherly survives. It’s their #5 rated show…they will try.🙄

      • Veronica S. says:

        Also terrifying to think of what the other women who work there are going through.

      • Reef says:

        The compliance officer bit was what stuck out to me, because CO’s like HR are there to protect the company not employees so the fact that he provided evidence for Dushku without recognizing it during mediation to support her claim is troubling. It’s so Keystone cops dumb that it makes me wonder what else is going on at CBS re: harassment that the CO can produce incidental evidence of harassment occurring but is focused on cussing.

      • Goonie says:

        “Although the investigators praised Mr. Engstrom for his “tremendous institutional knowledge” and described him as a “smart and very capable lawyer,” they said the company’s failure to recognize the instances of harassment caught on tape was a symptom of larger problems at CBS, according to the draft of their report.”

        This bit from the NYT story about the compliance officer pretty much sums up how dumb it was for them to submit the video in support of Weatherly and CBS and having it inadvertently support Dushku’s claim.

      • Kerfuffle says:

        I don’t know much about the Weatherly-Moonves relationship specifically, but I would totally believe that he’s a Moonves favorite. Les liked a certain brand of masculinity, and the way Weatherly jumped straight to “Bull” speaks volumes (not to mention the show itself). Weatherly has wielded a lot of power in his little kingdom for a while now, this must be quite the wakeup call.

        Makes you wonder about Cote de Pablo leaving NCIS despite reportedly being offered a pile of money to keep going.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      OMG that part pissed me off AND made me giddy at the same time. (pissed off for their trying to justify the harassment and giddy because it slapped them in the face.)

      they figured that people would clutch their pearls and say “OH MY GOODNESS, she cursed?! well then she deserved to be sexually harassed.” surprised they didn’t bring up how tight her clothes were or that she had heavy make up on.

    • Payal says:

      An own goal if there ever was one. Hilarious!

  7. Ninks says:

    Imagine costing your company $9.5million by being a gross person and not getting fired. And if that’s how he behaved to somebody of Eliza’s clout, how did he treat women without her level of fame and power.

    Always disliked him, never really had a reason beyond finding him to be sleazy.

    • Payal says:

      The insurance company paid out, not CBS.And of course they passed on their expenses to other policyholders like homeowners or drivers like us. Another reason to dislike him.

    • North of Boston says:

      Not just a gross person, but also a snowflake.

      “Oh, Eliza didn’t think my rape jokes and comments in front of the crew about having a threesome with her were funny. Boo Hoo! Can’t have anyone around that doesn’t laugh at my stupid jokes, I might melt. Must text my producer to complain about her and get her fired so my fragile ego can continue to be the center of the universe”

  8. Marjorie says:

    Not at all surprised, this has been on blindgossip.com for a while.

  9. Oliviajoy1995 says:

    Eliza has a horrifying story of being assaulted at a very young age on the set of True Lies. It’s a truly sad story and bothered me for weeks after reading it. I feel bad for her.

  10. Chef Grace says:

    He does give off douchey frat boy vibes.
    What pisses this old lady off is CBS just keeps humming along, cutting the women out and keeping the pervs employed for the almighty rating points.

    • FF says:

      No, it’s just cutting off women entirely because Moonves was stopping female writers and the female shows that could have been big ratings winners.

      I always hated them putting his and Alba’s character together on Dark Angel. Creeper. Seemed to me that he only got engaged to her to get past her Catholic upbringing. Between him and Cameron, I’m not surprised Alba had an eating disorder at that time.

  11. GogoRoboto says:

    The things Weatherly said, and all were said in the presence of crew members some of whom took his lead and were awful to Dushku as well, were truly disgusting and offensive. But what was more disgusting was how he made everything he said to be merely poorly timed jokes and that he thought it was okay because Dushku laughed and played along. What an awful, awful man and he is supposed to be CBS top leading man. Yikes.

  12. Veronica S. says:

    The fact that this cost her a promotion into a full time position feels more prescient than ever considering the new reports stating the gender wage gap has increased in the last few years.

  13. megs283 says:

    Boston Globe has a great article about this (I imagine they didn’t write it, but it’s where I saw it). It also includes the detail that after Dushku respectfully spoke to Weatherly about her discomfort, he texted someone in charge of the show and said they needed to “talk about Dushku’s sense of humor.”

    Wow. I’m a longtime NCIS fan and I started the article by giving him the benefit of the doubt (poor sense of humor, Dushku deserved the money but he didn’t REALLY mean any harm) to being completely disgusted by the end. :-(

    I’m so glad Dushku got a settlement that reflected the earnings she would have received if she had been signed on for multiple seasons. For once – this settlement seems appropriate.

  14. Sue Denim says:

    What must it be like to be a mediocre white guy, the world at your feet for half the effort, and then to pretend, oh, I had no idea my “joking” (haha) could be offensive… right… This also puts all of the deaths of women on prime time tv in perspective. Btw if you like mysteries, as I do, but are tired of the tropes, try Fake or Fortune, it’s about art, many are free on youtube, and it’s fun!

  15. Myrtle says:

    Eliza D was so great in The Dollhouse – because of her I loved that show. Sorry to hear this happened, but good for her for standing up, saying something and getting a nice settlement. Dude sounds like a major creeper.

  16. AppleTartin says:

    I love Eliza and wish she had chosen the Buffy spinoff Faith over Dollhouse. She should have a bigger career due to her talent. My first thought too is nobody is paid that kind of money for a few off color jokes. Either she had something on tape or he crossed the line physically and she had proof. Bill O’Reilly literally bought his way out of rape charges. This feels the same. She might not have gotten legal justice but she secured her future at least financially.

  17. Mina says:

    The bigger problem here isn’t Michael Weatherly (he is, of course, but so are half of male celebrities out there). It’s the fact that she went through the proper channels to complain about inappropriate behavior and she was the one getting fired. How often do we see harasser apologists bashing women for going public in social media instead of going through the channels? Here you have someone who did what she was supposed to do, and still lost. It’s a terrible message and it shows nothing has changed in the MeToo era.

  18. Fluffy Princess says:

    “When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her . . .”

    Dude, Eff You. Like hell you were mortified!! Any “jokes” about a “rape van” — man, I can’t even.
    He’s lucky she didn’t drop kick him in the nuts right there.

  19. xdanix says:

    I’ve been heartbroken all day since reading this story. Because I’ve loved her for years. But I also loved HIM for years. He was my favourite on NCIS. Even though I stopped watching it years ago, around season 7 or 8, I retained a fondness for him. I watched the whole first season of Bull despite not really liking it JUST for him. And when they added her to the show I was so excited! I couldn’t understand why she didn’t become a regular as promised, kept hoping she’d come back. Now I feel so, so sick to think of it.

    That poor woman. As if she hadn’t been through enough already!! And to think if it weren’t for the Moonves investigation we likely never, ever would have found any of this out… people like me would have gone on liking Michael Weatherly… god I feel sick.

    • Herewegoagain says:

      Weatherly has been an arse pimple for a long time. At least since Dark Angel. This story doesn’t surprise me at all.

      • xdanix says:

        I wish I had your foresight! I didn’t know anything about that. I never watched Dark Angel or knew anything about it, I was just a kid when that show was on. I only knew Michael Weatherly from watching NCIS when I was introduced to it as a teenager. I remember loving it so much I spent all my birthday money buying several seasons of it on dvd, however many were out at the time. I still have them somewhere, but now I just want to get rid of them. This *was* a very sad, nasty surprise to me.

  20. Mego says:

    I watched Bull for a time and was excited about the Eliza stroy arc and possible joining the show. She had zero chemistry with Weatherly and her acting wasn’t all that great. The joining the cast thing never materialized and I chalked it up to the lack of chemistry.

    A hostile and unsafe work environment will do that to you for sure. So sorry for Eliza! And this after what happened to her working on True Lies. Hope she finds a project that will showcase her talent like Buffy did.

  21. Michel says:

    I hope Weatherly gets doxxed out of Hollywood. Pig.

  22. tealily says:

    I don’t know anything about this guy except that he’s a yawn and a half. I watched one episode of Bull and found it completely forgettable. Sucks for Dushku, but she’s truly better than that dreck.

  23. abbi says:

    Ugh, stories like this make my blood boil. She was amazing in Dollhouse. I’m glad the truth is coming out, but as usual, it’s too little too late.

  24. Swan Lake says:

    He was my least favorite on NCIS, and I always wondered if he was the reason that Cote de Pablo left. I did read that they were going to co-produce a pilot(?), though, so maybe not. He’s also had some DUI’s.

    • Dara says:

      NCIS lost their first female lead after only a season or two (I think). At the time, I thought the reasons given for her leaving didn’t ring true, and since she lasted years on another series after NCIS I doubt it was really the hours or the pace of an hour-long series that made her throw in the towel.

      • Humbugged says:

        Sasha Alexander left because she couldn’t work in the specific crazy atmosphere that Don Bellisario created on set with ever changing scripts leading to crazy hours – which also eventually led to the palace coup where Don was removed from his job on the show he created a couple of seasons later. Sasha came back for flashbacks

        Cote left is a dispute about cash .And if anything she was forever being creepy on social media and in interviews about MW – the shipping of them as a couple on TV crept into people shipping them in real life and she played right along even after she left (which led to her replacement getting all sorts of abuse online )

    • Mego says:

      The character as written was a gross sexual harasser. I did a rewatch marathon of all the seasons and couldn’t abide the D’Nozzo character.

  25. Elise says:

    Every time I see a story about how someone in Hollywood got a big lump sum settlement, I remember a friend of mine who works in the industry saying, “Yeah, right. Subtract federal and state tax; subtract 10% for your agent; subtract anywhere from 15 to 25% for your manager; subtract another 15% for your publicity person–and remember some of these expenses are not tax deductible–then there’s union dues….” I wonder if she wound up actually pocketing the low six figures out of that award. Which is more than I have lying around, but it isn’t 9.5 million, either.

    • Dara says:

      It’s a legal settlement, so only the lawyers involved in the case would take a chunk and I don’t think there would be payroll taxes (not sure if/how legal settlements are taxed in California). If her legal team was paid by the hour rather than taking the case on a contingency basis, it’s possible she’ll see more of the money than if she had actually worked on the show. But yes, I think being an actor has really high overhead, and more than we might think are probably just barely scraping by even if they have steady work.

    • Spintop says:

      Her hubby is worth something in the realm of $6 billion, so I think Eliza will be fine. Good on her for calling this out and being brave about speaking publicly about it.

  26. Jag says:

    He’s gotten so fat that I didn’t even recognize him. Good for Eliza for standing up for herself!

  27. Nuzzy says:

    The thing that bugs me is the settlement number is thrown around like it’s showing CBS as a stand up kind of network instead of the headlines being: “Dushku Written Off Show After Reporting Sexual Harassment”. The money wasn’t much at all to them – but they still got to put the fear of Moonves into all other actresses for it. The actresses on Bull didn’t hear about the settlement – they just saw her written off.

  28. SJhere says:

    I bet there is a lot more dirt about MW we have not heard yet. He gives off a strong vibe of spoiled, rich, white, frat boy even now when he’s in his 50′s.
    I’ve heard gossip about him and Côte de Paolo (sp?) before, supposedly a multi year affair ongoing during her time on the show, rumors he has been a serial cheater during his current marriage to a female doctor, his engagement to Jessica Alba when she was in her first big role at about 19 and he was 32-33.
    Isn’t his family money from the Swiss Army Knife? I remember hearing years ago that he comes from a very wealthy background.

  29. Gigi La Moore says:

    It’s good for her but by signing a non disclosure, it doesn’t help the next woman.

    • North of Boston says:

      Do we really have to keep putting all the blame and responsibility on the victims?

      The only people who did wrong her are Weatherly, the Bull PTB and CBS.

      Dushku went to work, to do a job she agreed to, was sexually harassed at that job, tried to raise it with her colleague (a leader on the set) to resolve the issue, and then reported it (as was her legal right to do). CBS fired her and she pushed back. Good for her. Period. Full Stop.

      Shame on Weatherly, Shame on the Bull Producers, Shame on CBS.