MacGyver star Lucas Till says in a new interview that the toxic on-set environment created by former executive producer Peter M. Lenkov drove the actor to the “breaking point,” and that the first year on the show left Till feeling “suicidal.”
In a new Vanity Fair report, Till says he was subjected to bullying, verbal abuse and body-shaming by Lenkov, who was fired by CBS Television Studios earlier this month following an investigation into a complaint about a toxic environment on MacGyver.
“I’ve never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work,” Till tells Vanity Fair’s Maureen Ryan. “But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel. But the way he’s treated the people around me — that’s just my breaking point.”
The magazine reports that Till told CBS’ Human Resources in writing about the body shaming. “There was always something about my appearance that wouldn’t please him, like when I was in a hospital gown…. [Lenkov] said my legs were ‘f–king hideous’ and we can never show them again. Honestly, I found some humor in that comment as well, but you can imagine if that was a more sensitive spot that he had hit, and often did. Just like the time he screamed at [a director] ’Oh, my f–king God! Tuck his shirt in, he looks like a little f–king boy’… I’ve struggled with maintaining ‘man weight’ on the show because of the stress, no time to work out, and an unpredictable schedule for proper nourishment.”
A spokesperson for Lenkov told Vanity Fair that Till’s accusations are “100 percent false and untrue,” and that the former showrunner “championed” Till “from the very beginning and has been nothing but supportive of him.”
CBS Television Studios fired Lenkov from the two series he developed, executive produced and showran, MacGyver and Magnum P.I. on July 7, terminating his overall deal with the studio.
In a statement then, CBS Television Studios said, “Peter Lenkov is no longer the executive producer overseeing MacGyver and Magnum P.I., and the Studio has ended its relationship with him. Our Studio is committed to ensuring safe and respectful production environments. Over the past year, we have assigned human resource production partners to every show, expanded staff training and increased reporting options. We will continue to evolve our practices with continued focus on building trust with all who work on our sets. Every complaint is taken seriously, every claim is investigated, and when evidence is clear that policies were violated and values not upheld, we take decisive action.”
Lenkov then responded, “Now is the time to listen and I am listening. It’s difficult to hear that the working environment I ran was not the working environment my colleagues deserved, and for that, I am deeply sorry. I accept responsibility for what I am hearing and am committed to doing the work that is required to do better and be better.”