'MacGyver's Lucas Till Details Peter Lenkov's 'Unacceptable' Behavior
Lenkov's dismissal came after an investigation into claims that he allegedly created a toxic work environment, and Vanity Fair spoke with 30 sources about their experiences with the producer. Among them was MacGyver star Lucas Till, who plays the titular character.
According to Till, he dealt with verbal abuse, bullying, and body-shaming from Lenkov, who set the tone of the set, even though he wasn't there often. "I've never worked this hard in my life, and I am fine with hard work," the actor said. "But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel. But the way he's treated the people around me — that's just my breaking point."
In response, Dale Kinsella, a lawyer for Lenkov, called those claims of abuse and body-shaming "100 percent false and untrue" and said the former showrunner "championed [Till] from the very beginning and has been nothing but supportive of him."
According to Till, he brought up what was happening to CBS in 2017 and this year — including a five-page letter to the head of human resources about Lenkov's behavior towards himself and costar Meredith Eaton (who plays Matty Webber) — but felt he was dismissed. However, a source told Vanity Fair that his concerns helped set the H.R. inquiry into motion that resulted in Lenkov being fired.
In Till's letter to HR, he detailed a comment from Lenkov about his legs and the reaction to that comment. "There was always something about my appearance that wouldn't please him like when I was in a hospital gown and our producer ... thought it was funny that [Lenkov] said my legs were 'f**king hideous' and we can never show them again," Till wrote, adding that he "found humor" in it.
"But you can imagine if that was a more sensitive spot that he had hit, and often did," he continued. "Just like the time he screamed at [a director] 'Oh, my f**king God! Tuck his shirt in, he looks like a little f**king boy.' Just hire a 35 year old then." In his letter, Till said that he "struggled with maintaining 'man weight' on the show because of the stress, no time to work out, and an unpredictable schedule for proper nourishment."
In that same letter, he also detailed an injury Eaton suffered and her subsequent recovery. "Meredith suffered an injury on set that was not dealt with properly … and had to get a hip replacement surgery and in-home care to recover fast enough to return to work the next season," Till wrote. "Peter would frantically email and call her insisting on knowing when she would be able to walk at a fast pace again." Eaton reportedly was standing for hours during the next season's premiere.
Via his lawyer, Lenkov said that didn't happen and he didn't insist on finding out when she could walk at a fast pace.
"Now is the time to listen and I am listening. It's difficult to hear that the working environment I ran was not the working environment my colleagues deserved, and for that, I am deeply sorry," Lenkov said in a statement when CBS announced his dismissal. "I accept responsibility for what I am hearing and am committed to doing the work that is required to do better and be better."
Executive producer Monica Macer is taking over as showrunner for MacGyver ahead of its fifth season.