With NCIS and Bull both about to start their new seasons, some fans wonder: What about Michael Weatherly?
Ever since The New York Times revealed that CBS paid former Bull actress Eliza Dushku $9.5 million after she blew the whistle on sexual harassment by Weatherly, some have wondered about his future on Bull. Others have wondered if he could return to NCIS, especially with Cote de Pablo returning for at least 4 episodes.
In the era of #MeToo, fans are also curious how Weatherly’s NCIS co-stars feel about the allegations against the actor. Do they support him or do they stand by his alleged victim?
What happened to Michael Weatherly on ‘Bull?’
Dushku is no stranger to speaking out against the industry, having accused a stunt coordinator of molesting her when she was 12 during the filming of True Lies. So when Weatherly made crude comments about Dushku, including a reference to a rape van, she spoke out again.
“Everyone should be allowed to work without harassment,” she wrote. “Weatherly sexually harassed and bullied me day-in and day-out and would have gotten away with it had he not been caught on tape.”
She said the settlement wasn’t about money as much as it was a culture change. CBS has been criticized for having a toxic culture, particularly when top exec Les Moonves was fired after harassment allegations surfaced.
Weatherly apologized to Dushku and deleted his social media accounts. However, the network drew criticism again when executive Kelly Kahl commented on the matter.
“It’s a very popular show,” as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “More than 10 million people watch every week. Michael is loved by our audience. Even after the allegations came out, people continued to watch.”
While some fans are uncomfortable with Weatherly still being on the CBS roster, others accept the measures taken by the network and the actor.
“So a person can keep his job even after he admits to wrongdoing,” Kahl said. “We took a 360-degree view of the entire situation. What we found, in Michael’s case, was no incidents and no complaints during his time on Bull — none outside of the isolated incident. At the time, he was remorseful and apologetic. He is undergoing leadership coaching.”
‘NCIS’ stars defend Michael Weatherly
In the wake of the allegations, some of Weatherly’s former co-stars on NCIS vouched for his character. Sasha Alexander tweeted: “I have been in trenches w/ my friend @M_Weatherly. Always laughs, true friend & (a heart) as big as they come.”
Pauley Perrette leaped to Weatherly’s defense, too, tweeting: “This man… I love, respect, trust, and I KNOW. TWO decades of friendship and respect. The best. I love you @M_Weatherly Always and forever.”
Perrette’s support has been notable because she has not at all been shy about accusing former NCIS co-star Mark Harmon of attacking her and says she was terrified of him after his dog allegedly injured someone on set. That’s why she refuses to return to NCIS.
What about Cote de Pablo?
De Pablo has not spoken out about Weatherly’s controversy on Bull, perhaps partly because she’s keeping details of her return to the show close to the vest. She and Weatherly were romantically involved on the show. Even in real life, their chemistry was evident in promotional pieces done off the set.
De Pablo and Weatherly were teaming up for a new CBS show called MIA, but both actors were to remain behind the camera as producers. In the meantime, Weatherly has said in a brief video interview on Twitter that he would like to return to NCIS. Whether “like to” becomes “will” remains to be seen, but Weatherly will be back on Bull Sept. 23, and the NCIS premiere will be the next day, on Sept. 24. That looks to be as close as we’ll get to a reunion for now.