ViacomCBS & Dr. Phil’s Stage 29 Hit With “Unlawful Discriminatory Practices” Allegations By Ex-‘The Doctors’ Host


Former The Doctors host Dr. Ian Smith is taking a diagnostic approach to endemic “racial discrimination and retaliation” issues with the syndicated series from ViacomCBS and the Dr. Phil McGraw’s production company. This comes after CBS boss George Cheeks empathetically supposedly told a fired Dr. Smith earlier this year that the situation should’ve “never happened.” and would “be investigated ASAP.”

“To date, the CBS investigation remains incomplete,” an “unlawful discriminatory practices” complaint filed in recent days with the New York State Division of Human Rights and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states (read it here)

“The delay in the investigation is striking given how quickly CBS investigated recent allegations that Sharon Osborne engaged in race discrimination on another CBS daytime talk show called The Talk,” the filing adds of the ex-rock manager’s messy exit in March. Smith notes he has not heard from CBS on the matter and nature of his firing since February of this year – though he is still featured prominently on The Doctors’ website.

Canned from the CBS Media Ventures distributed The Doctors in late January after citing “racist discriminatory statements about him” by a producer over Zoom, ex-Today contributor Smith alleges the problems on show started almost from the beginning. Brought onboard suddenly as the solo host of the 13th season of the Dr. Phil spinoff in July last year, as protests against racial injustice and police brutality gripped America, Smith claims he learned the hard way exactly how far inclusion went as a guiding principle on the show.

“We have you as the host,” the complaint claims when Dr. Smith spoke to The Doctors EP Patty Ciano about the lack of diversity among the show’s producers. “That’s what matters,” the EP is said to have added. Ciano, along with Stage 29 Productions and its co-founder Jack McGraw (son of Dr. Phil), and ViacomCBS are all named as “aiders and abettors” in the complaints.

ViacomCBS had no comment on the matter when contacted by Deadline

Dr. Smith’s compliant also notes that ex-Doctors co-host Dr. Racheal Ross warned of “a lack of diversity and racism” on the show. Then rookie Smith and three-season vet Ross were colleagues during the Doctors‘ 2013 run. Neither returned the next year and Smith wasn’t back as the only host until last year.

Laying out a detailed behind the scenes unpeeling of the daytime talk show and its inclination towards a White POV, despite Smith’s efforts to bring on Black guests and creatives, and production risk taking during the Covid-19 pandemic, the 10-page filing in the Empire State also outlines a seemingly deeply flawed HR process at the Shari Redstone dominated media giant.

George Cheeks

In at least two instances, Chicago-based Dr. Smith claims he has hit a wall as he sought to utilize the company’s much proclaimed online portal. One complaint anonymously filed late in 2020 focusing on sexual harassment Smith felt he endured from Ciano was virtually DOA.

Heralded by CBS Entertainment Group CEO and President Cheeks, the second complaint resulted in “several …calls and emails” with Linda Davidoff, SVP and Deputy Chief Compliance Officer of ViacomCBS, but no apparent action – despite the matter being “a high priority” order from Cheeks.

“If my client didn’t complain about racism, he would still be the host of The Doctors,” said Smith’s lawyer Rick Ostrove today. “His repeated complaints are a show of courage,” the Leeds Brown Law, P.C attorney added. “He stuck his neck out to make the industry more inclusive and make the world a better place. We are exceptionally confident that we will prevail in this case and look forward to trial.”

The Doctors website currently still has Dr. Smith as the co-host of the Emmy wining daytimer with Dr. Andrew Ordon, a California plastic surgeon.

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