Executive Producer of ‘The Muppets’ Was Apparently a Sexist, Homophobic Creep

EP Bob Kushell allegedly downplayed sexual harassment claims against an employee, according to a new book: “It wasn’t like he was grabbing tits or ass.”

Executive Producer of ‘The Muppets’ Was Apparently a Sexist, Homophobic Creep
Photo:David Buchan/Variety/Penske Media (Getty Images)

What is it about children’s television that attracts the industry’s biggest weirdos?

On today’s episode of Male Adult Who Doesn’t Know What ‘Professional Conduct’ Means Put in Charge of Kids’ Show, former employees of ABC’s 2015 The Muppets revival are speaking out against their showrunner, Bob Kushell. The revelations from People come as part of a new book by Maureen Ryan, Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood, which explores the entertainment industry’s predilection for toxic bosses and toxic workplaces.

Multiple individuals told Ryan that Kushell, who served as the executive producer for the entirety of the show’s run, had fostered an inappropriate work environment, where he allegedly used a homophobic slur, downplayed sexual harassment claims against a fellow male employee, and consistently made women employees uncomfortable.

Kushell’s behavior also included telling coworkers about his “erotic dreams” and “making sexual remarks” on set. One writer referred to as “Janice” in Ryan’s book claimed Kushell screamed “Fuck her in the ass!” while reading feedback from a woman executive. Then, when another writer alluded to the fact that his son had a boyfriend, Kushell allegedly responded, “Fag!” When the writer told Kushell the word was offensive, according to the book, Kushell claimed he was referring to a cigarette.

Nell Scovell, a co-executive producer on the show, claimed that Kushell once came into her office, closed the door without her permission, and began discussing the dismissal of a crew member, who’d been fired over allegations of sexual harassment.

“[He] expressed sympathy for the guy, because as he explained to me, ‘It wasn’t like he was grabbing tits or ass,’” said Scovell. While speaking to her, Scovell says Kushell made “gross” gestures.

Scovell told Ryan that she then shared an experience in which she had been assaulted by the head writer on a different television show when she was young. In response, Kushell allegedly opened his arms and said, “Wanna fuck?”

“It was obviously a joke, but we weren’t in the writers’ room,” Scovell said. “We were in my office with a closed door. There’s a fine line between funny and creepy…and Bob’s comment was nowhere near that line.”

Reps for ABC and Kushell have not yet responded to People’s requests for comment, while a rep for Scovell declined to comment on the allegations.

“There was just so much whispering of, ‘I don’t like this person,’ or ‘That person is a jerk,’” said a crewmember referred to as “Hal.” “It was so not a harmonious staff. My take on Bob was that he was in way over his head and incredibly stressed out and just dropping the ball in general.”

ABC eventually canceled the half-hour sitcom after airing 16 episodes. Kushell later executive produced the since-canceled series Me, Myself and I and Fam. As Taylor Swift once said, “Karma is a god!”

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