BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Both before and after the ouster of CEO Leslie Moonves last year as a result of sexual misconduct allegations, CBS has weathered criticism of bad behavior on its sets, and promised to do better. But that wasn’t enough to placate some at the Television Critics Association press tour who say the network’s response has been tepid.
Pauley Perrette, a star of "NCIS," left that series in May 2018, and on Twitter, she has recently blamed star Mark Harmon, of whom she says she's "terrified."
Last fall, the network fired Brad Kern, the onetime executive producer of "NCIS: New Orleans," after several investigations into allegations of harassment toward women and bullying behavior.
And in December, it was revealed that CBS paid actress Eliza Dushku a $9.5 million settlement after she alleged “Bull” star Michael Weatherly repeatedly harassed her and was fired by the show’s producer Glenn Gordon Caron, despite plans to make her a series regular.
“I can’t speak to what she’s addressing in her tweets," CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl said of Perrette's resurfacing of the incidents Thursday. "She did come to us a couple years ago with a workplace concern; we immediately investigated it and resolved it to everyone’s satisfaction. We are very happy to have her on the air again this year with us" in "Broke," a new midseason comedy, “and I don’t think she’d be back if she had concerns” with the network.
And while CBS has made great strides in improving a weak record on diversity and inclusion in its series, complaints continue to plague reality shows “Survivor” and “Big Brother.”
One of this season's “Brother” contestants, Kemi Fakunle, claimed a producer told her to “act black” on the show. “A producer, in an attempt to get a soundbite from one of the house guests, overstepped” and was reprimanded, confirmed Thom Sherman, senior executive VP for programming.
Kahl acknowledged that “we have heard things on the show that we are not comfortable with, that we have not enjoyed hearing,” and will address changes “after the season is over.” (No such charges have been leveled about “Love Island,” the low-rated dating show that CBS Thursday renewed for a second season.)
Kahl said many of the broader, more serious harassment charges have been addressed in the form of heightened “leadership” and unconscious-bias training, although he didn't elaborate on what that entailed and acknowledged it wasn’t mandatory. “Everybody, top to bottom, is receiving training now. In any situation where we receive information or hear something is askew on a show, we investigate immediately.”
But why, some TV critics ask, did Weatherly and Caron face no consequences for their behavior, other than a request for training? “Bull” is one of the network’s top shows. “Michael is loved by our audience,” Kahl explained with unusual candor. “Even after these allegations came out, people continued to watch.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pauley Perrette: CBS responds to harassment charges