Patricia Heaton’s new sitcom Carol’s Second Act has come under fire before it even got past its first act.
Why? Because the star’s husband David Hunt, who serves as one of the medical comedy series’ executive producers, has been accused of sexual misconduct by one of the former writers — and the alleged incident has already lead to the exit of two female staffers from the show.
That’s right. According to a report from The New York Times, Broti Gupta, a former writer for the series, went to human resources at CBS and complained that Heaton’s hubby inappropriately touched her on two separate occasions.
The first alleged encounter took place outside of a work dinner back in August, where the writer claims Hunt hugged her while complimenting her pants and running his hand up her thigh. She said the incident made her feel “uncomfortable.”
Weeks later, Gupta claims she was sitting at a meeting next to co-exec producer Margee Magee when Hunt allegedly jerked her by the shoulders while looking for something nearby. Gupta reportedly confided in Magee about the incidents making her feel uncomfortable and was apparently encouraged to speak out about the British producer’s alleged behavior.
The two women went to the showrunners on the series, and CBS launched an investigation into the matter. While speaking to the Times, Gupta made it clear she wasn’t interested in getting a payout over the ordeal, but instead felt it would be best to make this a teachable moment for Hunt.
She told the outlet:
“I told just my own personal code of ethics, which is that if there is space for education instead of punitive measures, then I believe in education.”
Unfortunately, the educational efforts backfired and resulted in the two women allegedly being ostracized from the show. Claiming she and Magee were kept away from rehearsals after complaining to execs, Gupta explained:
“That gave me no option but to leave the show.”
Magee also claims reporting the situation to HR led to her losing many of her responsibilities on the show. She ended up resigning in October over what she feels was retaliation for supporting Gupta.
CBS tried to downplay the situation to the NYT, claiming both Gupta and Magee exited “of their own accord.” The network insists that not only are the women being paid for the remainder of the season, but CBS is not stopping them from speaking out about the alleged experience.
A statement to the Times read:
“The matter was promptly investigated by human resources, and appropriate action was taken to address the complaint. The executive producer cooperated fully with the process. The writer and producer decided to leave the show of their own accord. CBS agreed to their request to be paid for the remainder of their guaranteed episodes this season, and we supported their request to waive any contractual provisions that would prevent them from speaking about their experiences on the show.”
CBS added it “looked into allegations of retaliatory conduct by the showrunners at the time they were raised, and we found no evidence of retaliatory intent in their interactions with the writer or the producer.”
Hmmm. Having one’s responsibilities taken away from them seems more than a bit retaliatory to us…
Patricia, for her part, has yet to address the controversy. The Emmy-winning Everybody Loves Raymond actress, who stars as the lead on Carol’s Second Act, has been married to Hunt since 1990. They split their time between homes in Los Angeles and Cambridge, and have four sons.
Will this speed bump prevent Carol from getting her third act? Only time will tell!
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