Frankie Shaw, the creator of the Showtime hit SMILF, is being investigated for sexual misconduct claims on set. The show returns to Showtime on January 20, but the production of the second season has been rife with onset controversy.
The Hollywood Reporter published an exclusive Monday that included claims of onset racism and claims of inappropriately handled sex scenes. While the claims of racism stemming from a segregated writers room are disturbing, misconduct during sex scenes has led to an internal investigation.
The report includes that Rosie O’Donnell, who plays Shaw’s mom on the show, contacted Showtime executive Amy Israel as well as executive producer Scott King back in August over concerns about a generally chaotic and troubled set. Sources say that while O’Donnell did not leave set or clash with Shaw, she was concerned about Shaw’s treatment of Samara Weaving.
Weaving, who plays Shaw’s baby-daddy’s love interest, claims that a sex scene was handled inappropriately and breached her contract. The actress made a complaint to both Disney and SAG-AFTRA when a sex scene that was supposed to be on a closed set with limited crew members was mishandled. Shaw allegedly turned on the monitors, effectively opening the set. This came after an incident in the first season where Weaving was asked to do a nude scene with 40 minutes notice even though there was a no-nudity clause in her contract. Following her refusal to do the scene, Shaw spoke to her in private and yanked her shirt down. Shaw’s lawyer does no deny the encounter happened but noted that Weaving’s breasts were not exposed when the shirt was yanked.
While O’Donnell originally refused to comment, she later stated, “I have worked with Frankie Shaw for two and a half years. She is an immensely gifted young talent. I love acting on SMILF, a show that I am extremely proud of.”
SMILF is set for a third season with Shaw still at the helm, and the creator is also talking to the premium cable channel about adapting The Bell Jar for the network.
Shaw has been vocal about the importance of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, but her alleged behavior on set shows a different story. One anonymous staffer said, “She uses this idea of being feminist and a progressive as camouflage.” Another remarked on the overall feeling on set saying, “A lot of shows are generally unpleasant. Production is stressful. There are a lot of shows where people are angry at each other and then it’s over and then you celebrate the work. This was not like that. People were really traumatized. It was pretty upsetting.”
The accusations against Shaw join a growing list of Me Too era scandals at Showtimes’ parent company CBS. Earlier this year, CBS’s longtime chairmen and CEO Leslie Moonves left the company after accusations of sexual assault and abusive behavior came out. Jeff Fager, a longtime executive producer of 60 Minutes, also had to leave CBS over claims of harassment, and earlier on in the movement, Charlie Rose was shockingly accused of sexual harassment by eight different women. CBS announced on Monday that Moonves would not be getting a reported $120 million severance.
Women in Hollywood have not been immune to harassment scandals in the wake of the Me Too movement. Asia Argento, Melanie Martinez, and Kimberly Guilfoyle have all been the subject of sexual misconduct allegations.
Weaving has not publically commented on the report from THR, but Variety reported that she has been released from her contract even though an internal investigation through ABC’s HR concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part. There are conflicting reports about the status of the investigation. Shaw has still not commented on the matter.