Joss Whedon Report Offers Insight Into Carpenter, Trachtenberg Claims

Though Joss Whedon has yet to address Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Charisma Carpenter's public accusations of abuse and unprofessional behavior during the production of both series, others are. On Friday, Variety posted an exclusive report based on conversations with 11 individuals who either worked directly on one or both series or were familiar with the shows' production runs. Speaking on condition of anonymity so they could speak freely or out of concern for their careers, those interviewed offer a view of Whedon as "a talented, collaborative writer-producer with a pattern of inappropriate, imperious and disparaging behavior toward those who worked for him," creating a "cult of personality" around him. The media/entertainment news site reached out to 40 actors, writers, producers, and directors from both Buffy and Angel, but all declined to comment for the report.

(Image: WarnerMedia)

While the entire report is definitely worth your time and adds much more context and backstory to what's been alleged, here are just a few of the main points that stuck out:

1) A number of "high-placed sources" claim that complaints against Whedon never made it to the top studio levels or became a human resources matter. Sources also had no knowledge "of any payouts or settlements regarding Whedon's alleged behavior while 'Buffy' was in production.

2) Carpenter's story was corroborated by one source who worked with the actor, claiming that Carpenter would "often" discuss her mistreatment, referring to it as "very, very bad," "mean-spirited," and "verbal abuse." One producer went on record saying that the Buffy writers enjoyed writing for Cordelia, but that hostility towards the actor increased after the move to Angel before her character was eventually written off.

3) Reportedly, Whedon was not in favor of hiring Carpenter but was urged by the network to bring her aboard the cast. This would apparently lead to Whedon "frequently" picking on her and create an environment where others would be "openly dismissive" of her acting skills. Two sources reportedly "in high positions" claimed Carpenter's tardiness on the set created "a general sense of ill-feeling for the actor" that Whedon "weaponized" against the actor.

4) With regards to the claim Michelle Trachtenberg made about there being a rule on set that Whedon wasn't allowed to be alone with the young actor, "several high-placed sources" said they weren't aware of any rule. But another source with direct knowledge of the show's production claimed that there was a concerted effort to keep the two from being together "due to an improper verbal exchange between Whedon and Trachtenberg."

5) Whedon apparently also had issues early on with Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar, who two production sources claim had a "severed relationship" with Whedon. Reportedly, the split between the two was severe enough that "she did not want his name spoken around her."

After living with the experience for "nearly two decades" before speaking up last week, Carpenter claimed in social media posts earlier this month that, "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working on the sets of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Angel.' While he found his conduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively." You can read Carpenter's entire statement below, where the actress goes on to offer examples of her allegations as well as revealing that she took part in WarnerMedia's investigation into Justice League star Ray Fisher's claims against Whedon.

Image: C. Carpenter
Joss Whedon Report Offers Insight Into Carpenter, Trachtenberg Claims
Image: C. Carpenter

Here's a look at the Buffy and Angel star's original tweets from last Wednesday:

On July 1, 2020, Fisher aka Cyborg took to Twitter to accuse Whedon of being abusive on the 2017 set not long after Whedon took over from Zack Snyder (who left the production due to a family tragedy), and that two other executives helped enable Whedon's alleged actions. WarnerMedia opened an investigation into Fisher's allegations, but in early September the company claimed that Fished wasn't cooperating with third-party investigators Fisher denied those claims, while friends co-stars such as Jason Mamoa began publically supporting Fisher and demanding WarnerMedia take action.

Then on November 24, word came down from Whedon that he was stepping away from his upcoming HBO series The Nevers. Whedon cited "the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic" as being a major factor in his decision. HBO confirmed in a brief statement that it had parted ways with the show's creator, writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner. "We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere," wrote the cable network in a statement. Along with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers), Amber Benson (Tara Maclay), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Anthony Head (Rupert Giles), Eliza Dushku (Faith), James Marsters (Spike), J. August Richards (Charles Gunn), David Boreanaz (Angel), Amy Acker (Fred), and Nicholas Brendon (Xander) as well as writers Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) and Jose Molina (Firefly), have taken to social media to offer Carpenter support.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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