Bull star Michael Weatherly is receiving “leadership coaching,” CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl revealed onstage today at the TCA. Showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron is in “leadership training” too, the exec added.
“It is implied in the name that is how to be a leader on the set, it’s how to be a positive example for everyone,” Kahl asserted of the non-mandatory counseling the two men are undergoing. This follows revelations last year that CBS paid out a confidential $9.5 million settlement to Eliza Dushku over sexual harassment allegations against Weatherly and her axing from the widely watched series in apparent retaliation.
“None of us are too old and too smart to learn to do something better,” said Kahl. “He is taking his responsibility as the head of a show to make the set a positive place to work,” he added of former NCIS star Weatherly.
Kahl noted that he had been on the set of the recently renewed show’s fourth season. “They are all in a good place,” he declared of the production.
Questions of the so-called “isolated incident” on Bull, as well as issues of CBS’ overall culture and claims about Big Brother and more dominated the executive session that kicked off Thursday’s CBS day at the summer TCA. Clearly the hope was that this year would be a far cry from last year at the Beverly Hilton, when Kahl became an executive piñata for the allegations swirling around then-CBS kingpin Les Moonves and the overall culture at the company.
The names and pay grade may have changed, but not the topic.
Joined by SVP Programming Thom Sherman, Kahl actually came out with bragging rights over ad sales for the upcoming season, and the most-watched streak the network continues to enjoy over the whole day.
Perhaps intending to blunt the topic of the morning, the often self-effacing exec noted, “We still have a lot of work to do.” He also emphasized the diversity traction that CBS has made in recent years. Said Sherman: “53% of our writers are women or people of color,” and “50% of out directors will be women or people of color’ in the near future as the network is “evolving culturally.”
Asked later why Bull, in the context of Moonves and his fall from power last September, was brought back after the harassment claims and the payout to Dushku, Kahl was blunt.
“It’s a very popular show,” he said, adding, “Michael is loved by our audience.”