The female star and creator of a comedy series is the focus of a probe into allegations of abusive behavior and violations of industry rules. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the controversy centers on Frankie Shaw, the creator and star of Showtime’s “SMILF.”
The news comes as the show’s second season is due to premiere Jan. 20.
“Despite the involvement of several experienced producers and oversight from executives at both Showtime and Disney’s ABC Signature Studios, which produces the show, matters have nonetheless reached a point where one performer is exiting amid claims her contract was breached due to two mishandled sex scenes, numerous employees have contacted Disney’s anonymous tip line about an array of issues, and complaints have reached the major talent guilds, including allegations of separating writers by race,” THR reports.
The report quotes a statement from Shaw saying: “I work daily to create an environment in which everyone should feel safe, and in which I can continue to grow as a leader and manager. I am now and always have been open to hearing and addressing all concerns and issues that fall within my control. It pains me to learn that anyone felt uncomfortable on my set. I sincerely hope we can work together to resolve any and all issues, as I am committed to creating a workplace in which all people feel safe and heard.”
ABC Studios, which houses ABC Signature, provided its own statement to THR, saying it is “committed to a safe work environment, and when we are made aware of issues we address them appropriately. Complaints were brought to our attention after season two production wrapped, and we are investigating. We will take appropriate steps going forward if season three is ordered.”
Variety adds the following note: “The studio launched a probe into Shaw’s behavior after being made aware of a complaint by Samara Weaving, an actress who appears in the show’s first and upcoming second seasons. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Weaving complained to co-star Rosie O’Donnell and a director during production of season two about being asked to perform a sex scene nude. (Weaving and co-star Miguel Gomez were eventually told they could film the scene in their underwear.) While speaking with O’Donnell, Weaving said that she had been made uncomfortable by Shaw’s behavior during production of a similar scene in season one.”
O’Donnell reportedly brought the complaint to an executive at Showtime.
“The complaint then triggered a human resources investigation at ABC Studios, where the show is produced, which concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part,” Variety reports. “Weaving, however, was released from her contract at her request, and is not expected to join the show for a potential third season.”
THR notes that the issues surrounding “SMILF” surfaced as Showtime’s parent company, CBS Corp., is dealing with a sexual misconduct scandal in the wake of the ouster of company CEO Leslie Moonves.