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Eliza Dushku

Eliza Dushku Breaks Her Silence On Sexual Harassment Accusations

Eliza Dushku Sexual Harassment Bull Michael Weatherly

In case you hadn’t heard, Eliza Dushku was the victim of sexual harassment while working at CBS.
(And in a statistical anomaly, not by CEO Les Moonves.)
The Buffy alum was working on the legal drama Bull when star Michael Weatherly made inappropriate comments toward her. Right after she reported it, she got fired.
Related: Idris Elba Talks #MeToo
When the $9.5 million settlement CBS paid Dushku in secret went public, the network confirmed the behavior of its star. He has since apologized publicly.
Now it’s Eliza’s turn.
The actress wrote an op-ed for her hometown paper, The Boston Globe with the fire headline I worked at CBS. I didn’t want to be sexually harassed. I was fired.
She begins:

“The narrative propagated by CBS, actor Michael Weatherly, and writer-producer Glenn Gordon Caron is deceptive and in no way fits with how they treated me on the set of the television show Bull and retaliated against me for simply asking to do my job without relentless sexual harassment. This is not a ‘he-said/she-said’ case. Weatherly’s behavior was captured on CBS’s own videotape recordings.”

As to why she wasn’t quoted in the NY Times piece outing the settlement? She explains:

“I declined to be interviewed for that piece because I wanted to honor the terms of my settlement with the network. I was under the impression that Weatherly and Caron would also not respond per our settlement. Instead, all commented to the Times in what amounted to more deflection, denial, and spin.”

Eliza explains how she was meant to have more than just a 3-episode arc, how she’d been courted to become a co-lead with Weatherly, starting on season two.
Before she was fired for reporting harassment, that is. She says:

“In explaining his bad behavior, Weatherly, who plays Dr. Bull, claimed I didn’t get his attempt at humor. That’s how a perpetrator rationalizes when he is caught. For the record, I grew up in Boston with three older brothers and have generally been considered a tomboy. I made a name for myself playing a badass vampire slayer turned tough LA cheerleader; I have worked with numerous leading men, including Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, even CBS’s own David Boreanaz. I can handle a locker room. I have been on Howard Stern and was hired by Kevin Smith for a film where I wore a black leather cat suit and played a member of an international diamond-thief-gang-ring. I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or can’t take a joke. I did not over-react. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”

Preach, gurl!
This was NOT about some jokes, as she goes on to illuminate:

“Weatherly harassed me from early on. The tapes show his offer to take me to his ‘rape van, filled with all sorts of lubricants and long phallic things.’ There was also his constant name-calling; playing provocative songs (like Barracuda) on his iPhone when I approached my set marks; and his remark about having a threesome. He made the threesome remark to me about himself and me in a room full of people. Minutes later, a crew member sidled up next to me and, with a smirk, said in a low voice, ‘I’m with Bull. I wanna have a threesome with you too.’ For weeks, Weatherly was recorded making sexual comments, and was recorded mimicking penis jousting with a male costar, this directly on the heels of the ‘threesome’ proposal, and another time referring to me repeatedly as ‘legs.’ He regularly commented on my ‘ravishing’ beauty, following up with audible groans, oohing and aahing. As the tapes show, he liked to boast about his sperm and vasectomy reversals (‘I want you to know, Eliza, I have powerful swimmers’). Weatherly had a habit of exaggerated eye-balling and leering at me; once, he leaned into my body and inhaled, smelling me in a dramatic swoon. As was caught on tape, after I flubbed a line, he shouted in my face, ‘I will take you over my knee and spank you like a little girl.’

She then reveals something huge — Weatherly had apparently been reprimanded for harassment BEFORE SHE EVEN GOT THERE!

“The tapes show Weatherly routinely exclaimed ‘yellow card’ after distasteful remarks. I learned from crew members that, because there had been previous harassment training on Bull, Weatherly’s delight in yelling ‘yellow card’ was his way of mocking the very harassment training that was meant to keep him in line.”

Speaking of Moonves, Dushku writes about how Weatherly made sure to lord his close friendship with the former CEO over her, she believes, in an effort to intimidate.
The Bring It On star goes on to express how the harassment and threat of retaliation made her “uncomfortable, speechless, and frozen”:

“What is hardest to share is the way he made me feel for 10 to 12 hours per day for weeks. This was classic workplace harassment that became workplace bullying. I was made to feel dread nearly all the time I was in his presence. And this dread continues to come up whenever I think of him and that experience. “

Thankfully, Eliza was lucky — relatively — in getting the behavior on tape. And even that was not CBS playing fair but rather fumbling:

“Weatherly sexually harassed me day-in and day-out and would have gotten away with it had he not been caught on tape, and had the CBS lawyers not inadvertently shared the tapes with my counsel, Barbara Robb. Reflecting on the whole ordeal, it often makes me think with sadness of the majority of victims who do not have the benefit of the fortunate evidence — the tapes that I had.”

Lest you think Eliza’s first response to this inappropriate behavior was running to a lawyer, remember she DID try to talk to him about it first:

“After weeks of enduring Weatherly’s harassment, I resolved to deal with it directly. I aimed to be my diplomatic best. This was not easy for me, since there were plenty of other things I would like to have said to him. Framing my request as a plea for ‘help’ in setting a different tone on the set, I asked him to ‘be my ally’ and to ‘help ease the sexualized set comments.’ Weatherly responded with, ‘Eliza, no one respects women more than I do,’ citing his many sisters and his professed history of being ‘too respectful of women.'”

Then she drops a sad bomb of realness. She actually JOKED about being fired for asking for professional behavior. That’s how inconceivable it was for them to actually do it:

“After I left his trailer, I went straight back to my own trailer and wrote down everything I could remember about the conversation in a text to my manager, adding, ‘I hope he actually received it well & doesn’t run back to the studio telling them to fire me lol.’ Then, as I came to learn months later in the settlement process, Weatherly texted CBS Television President David Stapf about 40 minutes after our conversation and asked for what amounted to my being written off the show.”

She says she found out later she had been written off “within 48 hours of my complaints.”
But before she found out she wasn’t going to be returning for another season, Eliza found out her costar had not gotten her message but had instead reacted with a caricature of compliance:

“After I addressed matters with Weatherly, he circulated a ‘memo’ to the crew instructing not to comment on my appearance or beauty. I do not know if it was a written memo or a general verbal edict, but everyone called it ‘the memo.’ Weatherly’s message was clear to all: Eliza Dushku was offended by comments on her looks. (For the record, I love a good compliment).”

Making her look like the one in the wrong, huh? Ugh.
But that wasn’t all. No, Eliza says Weatherly had one last embarrassment up his sleeve:

“At the wrap party held on the last day of the season, Weatherly insisted that I stay for the champagne toast. It was odd to me for several reasons: Weatherly knew I was sober, and he had not spoken to me this warmly for weeks. Nevertheless, I also wanted to say goodbyes to friends and pay my respects to the crew. Weatherly emceed the toast. So when he called me up in front of the entire cast and crew to pick the winning party raffle tickets, Weatherly was actually going out of his way to humiliate me and said something along the lines of: ‘I need a beautiful woman to come pull this ticket.’ He laid it on thick. ‘A truly beautiful woman . . . hmmm, who could that be?’ He was performing, pretending to search the room. I immediately clocked what was happening, my breath tightened. ‘Eliza! Yes, the most beautiful woman of all. Yes, Eliza, you have to come pull the raffle ticket!’ he instructed, dripping with sarcasm and in direct violation of his own edict not to comment on my physical appearance. No matter that I’ve acted in more than 30 films and starred in two network series, Weatherly had to let everyone know he was the boss, that he had won and no one would come on that set and reject what he thought should be his unfettered right to do and say whatever he wants. There are crew members on record as witnesses to corroborate what for me was one of the most cruel, most aggressive humiliations I have ever experienced.”

The bullying didn’t stop after she was fired. When she learned about her surprise firing, she reached out through her reps and got the same demeaning nonsense from the showrunner:

“Caron defended Weatherly, explaining he had simply exhibited ‘frat’ behavior and added, ‘What does [Eliza] expect, she was in Maxim.’ On the subject of my legal rights, Caron said to my manager, ‘If Eliza wants to be out of the business by suing CBS, she can be out of the business.'”

And still more DURING the legal procedures:

“In the settlement process, CBS used as defense a photo of me in a bathing suit, pulled from my own Instagram, as if this suggested I deserved or was not offended by the sexual harassment I experienced.”

Eventually they did offer her millions, a fraction of what she would have made had she continued as a lead on a hit show. But she says it was about more than the money for her:

“A significant settlement condition was my requirement that CBS designate an individual trained in sexual harassment compliance to monitor Weatherly and the show in general. CBS did not want to do this, but I wouldn’t settle without this condition. Another condition I insisted on was that I be allowed to meet with Steven Spielberg, whose Amblin Television coproduces Bull, so I could talk with him about what occurred on his set.”

Dushku says she has not yet had her meeting with the film legend but seeing him wearing a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globes made her “especially eager” for it.
And to think, she would have kept up her end of the deal and not spoken about this publicly had they not tried to downplay what they did — proving they still have not learned anything.
What do YOU think of Eliza’s story??
[Image via CBS.]

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Dec 19, 2018 16:37pm PDT