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Former SMILF employees make accusations of "completely unprofessional" conduct on set

SMILF creator Frankie Shaw
Photo: Cindy Ord (Getty Images for Showtime)

According to a new piece from The Hollywood Reporter, production on the second season of Showtime’s SMILF has been “plagued by allegations of abusive behavior and violations of industry rules,” with one actor now planning to leave the show after she says “two mishandled sex scenes” were a breach of her contract. On top of that, “numerous employees” working on the show have sent complaints to the anonymous tip line run by Disney (which produces the show through its ABC Signature Studios), alleging—among other things—that the show has separated writers by race.

One of the people with concerns about the show is Rosie O’Donnell, who appears on SMILF and has contacted Showtime head Amy Israel and series executive producer Scott King to share her concerns about “a chaotic and troubled set.” O’Donnell hasn’t personally had any issues with creator and star Frankie Shaw, as some reportedly have, but she did tell the network that she had concerns about Shaw’s treatment of Samara Weaving—who appears on the show as the love interest of Miguel Gomez’s Rafi, the father of Shaw’s character’s child.

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Weaving is supposedly the one who is leaving the show because of a contract breach, with THR saying that she complained to Disney and the Screen Actors Guild after Shaw “instructed video monitors to be turned on” while Weaving filmed a sex scene even though it was supposed to be a closed set with a limited crew and no outside monitors. Shaw wasn’t on set when she issued that instruction, but “more than a dozen staffers” were in the room with the monitors showing the sex scene being filmed—which a script supervisor who cleared the room said was “completely unprofessional.” For the record, though, O’Donnell also made a statement to THR that she’s happy to work on SMILF and that she thinks Shaw is “an immensely gifted young talent,” and other actors say that Shaw has been conscious about checking in with them to make sure they were comfortable with any sex scenes.

Then there are issues with the writing staff. The WGA says that no formal complaints have been filed, but there have been informal comments about writers of color being put in different rooms from white writers as well as writers who say their “ideas were exploited without pay or credit.” A few “insiders” who would only talk to THR anonymously said that experienced “manipulative and inequitable treatment” and that they were afraid Shaw would “sabotage them professionally” if they spoke publicly.

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