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Behind-the-Scenes Feuds & Drama: TV’s Most Dysfunctional Sets


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The recent (unsurprising) stories about Lea Michele’s bullying and racist microaggressions on the set of Glee made me think: which TV series have had the most dysfunctional sets? Glee certainly seemed like anarchy BTS, and the downward spirals and deaths of Cory Montieth and Mark Salling just underscored that.


The recently ended Criminal Minds has revealed itself to be a cesspool of abuse and toxicity over the years. In the ‘80s, we had a constant barrage of stories about Bea Arthur vs. Betty White on The Golden Girls and Bruce Willis vs Cybill Shepherd on Moonlighting.

 

What are some feuds or stories about BTS dysfunction that you recall? Which set seemed like the worst of all?

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I've always read that there was a lot of behind the scenes drama and antics on the set of Beverly Hills, 90210. There seemed to be lots of tension in particular with the female cast members. I know Shannen had her issues with everyone which isn't a surprise and Jennie Garth had some issue with Tiffani. There was also lots of rumors of hookups and drug use, but I think when you have a particularly young cast those things were the norm.

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image.jpeg
 

I still want to know what exactly happened here. We know details about Nicollette’s issues with Marc Cherry, but I’ve never quite understood why they hate Teri Hatcher so much and who was in the wrong there. 

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4 minutes ago, GLATWT88 said:

I've always read that there was a lot of behind the scenes drama and antics on the set of Beverly Hills, 90210. There seemed to be lots of tension in particular with the female cast members. I know Shannen had her issues with everyone which isn't a surprise and Jennie Garth had some issue with Tiffani. There was also lots of rumors of hookups and drug use, but I think when you have a particularly young cast those things were the norm.

I read a rumor long ago that Luke Perry would eat food to make his breath bad before having any kissing scenes with Shannen. Not sure if it's true, but jeez.

 

Vivian Vance and William Frawley of I Love Lucy had problems. Vivian disliked playing frumpy, homely Ethel and that she had to be "married" to Frawley, who was old enough to be her father. Bill thought she was full of herself, and so there was friction from the beginning.

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Wait? There was drama on THE GOLDEN GIRLS?

 

That said...The BTS drama on the last few seasons of BUFFY. I think now I would be comfortable knowing. And if there was any BTS with ANGEL...other than Charisma vs Joss Whedon during Season 4 which seems like watch under the bridge now.

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2 minutes ago, All My Shadows said:

I read a rumor long ago that Luke Perry would eat food to make his breath bad before having any kissing scenes with Shannen. Not sure if it's true, but jeez.

 

I watched an interview with Linda Gray and she said that Larry Hagman would purposely eat horrible things to make his breath bad for their kissing scenes on Dallas. 

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Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Janet Hubert's beef with Will Smith and Alfonso Ribiero.

 

What I haven't been able to find out is if anyone from Family Matters had beef with Jaleel White when the show became more focused on Urkel than the Winslows.

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By 1978, Welcome Back, Kotter was a nightmare.

 

People, 11/6/78

By then Kotter had become less a set than a civil war. The cast Softball team had long since hung up its gloves and, more significantly, the feud spread to the Sweathogs, who, willingly or not, are lining up in rival camps. John (“Barbarino”) Travolta and Lawrence-Hilton (“Boom Boom”) Jacobs remain pretty much above the battle. Still close to both, Travolta goes to movies occasionally with Gabe and dines weekly with Strassman; Jacobs continues to hang out with Kaplan but no longer meets Strassman after-hours. Robert (“Epstein”) Hegyes is on the Kaplan side, but he’s stopped seeing him socially (and is also less tight with Travolta these days). Marcia’s main ally, Ron (“Horshack”) Palillo, barely talks to Gabe and sees none of the others outside work. The one vestigial source of Kotter cast unity is that virtually nobody can stand executive producer James Komack.

 

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10 hours ago, Chris B said:

image.jpeg
 

I still want to know what exactly happened here. We know details about Nicollette’s issues with Marc Cherry, but I’ve never quite understood why they hate Teri Hatcher so much and who was in the wrong there. 

It feels like there’s always this narrative with female ensembles, even though it’s probably just as common with male actors (look at Lethal Weapon with Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans). We can add Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall from Sex and the City to the list of feuds.

 

10 hours ago, Taoboi said:

 

Wait? There was drama on THE GOLDEN GIRLS?

 

Betty admitted that Bea wasn’t a fan of hers. The GG enthusiasts on the board may have more info, and certainly the Bea/Betty feud was an OBSESSION when I posted on Datalounge years ago.

 

More here:

https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/a44957/betty-white-and-bea-arthur-feud/

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12 hours ago, Chris B said:

image.jpeg
 

I still want to know what exactly happened here. We know details about Nicollette’s issues with Marc Cherry, but I’ve never quite understood why they hate Teri Hatcher so much and who was in the wrong there. 

 

I remember the Vanity Fair article from which this photo is taken. Nobody wanted Teri Hatcher in the centre of the picture, and Marcia Cross was especially aggrieved about this (she apparently stopped the photoshoot mid-session and screamed at their handler "MOVE HER! DO YOUR [!@#$%^&*] JOB!" So I wondered if Marcia Cross was the one with the problem.

 

That being said, the crew apparently disliked Teri Hatcher also. Unlike the rest of the cast, she did not give them goodbye gifts when the show finally ended.

 

12 hours ago, Taoboi said:

Wait? There was drama on THE GOLDEN GIRLS?

 

That said...The BTS drama on the last few seasons of BUFFY. I think now I would be comfortable knowing. And if there was any BTS with ANGEL...other than Charisma vs Joss Whedon during Season 4 which seems like watch under the bridge now.

 

They say SMG was a rather reserved person onset and that could be taken as standoffsihness. I am speculating, but a part of me feels she was harshly judged because she wasn't super touchy friendly and because she didn't overly kiss Joss Whedon's ass. Wheedon, for example, would host dinners at his family home where cast members he favored would get invited and perform scenes from Shakespeare or play improv games. I think Charisma Carpenter might have been the same -- she was friendly and on good terms with the Angel cast, but was never invited to the Wheedon family home for fun game night.

 

And I suspect that Joss finally got bored with writing for both Buffy and Cordelia. With Cordelia, he was very angry CC got pregnant and basically wrote her character out saying that it had run its course. With Buffy, he couldn't say that because the show was called BTVS! So he soldiered on, but it became clear in the last few seasons that he was not interested in exploring the layers of Buffy as a person. It was around that time that SMG looked like she wanted to move on too, because the show was no longer giving her interesting material.

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I think SMG also had some issues with the show's stunt coordinator. And there were rumors of her falling out with Alyson Hannigan at the time.

 

Buffy for me just wasn't good after season 3, aside from the odd episode, and the concept did not really warrant such a long run. SMG seemed to age out of the role, especially after she had brief film success. She lost all her spark (along with a noticeable amount of weight) - seeing such a brittle presence still having to spit out the same old "clever" Joss Whedon one-liners (that he has been regurgitating for 30 years now) was incredibly sad to watch.

 

I think the ugly and unnecessary Spike/Buffy story also ruined SMG's friendship with James Marsters, from what he's said.

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Let's not forget The WB's Charmed 

 

A lot of BTS upheaval centered around the series for years. 

 

Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano's issues and Shannen's departure 

 

The issues between Constance M. Burge and Brad Kern

 

From Wikipedia 

 

Ahead of the third season, Burge left her former position as executive producer to Kern, after she reportedly became frustrated that storylines for the third season were going to become more focused on the sisters' relationships with their love interests than each other.[19] She had disagreements with Kern over bringing the character Cole Turner (Julian McMahon) into the show as a love interest for Alyssa Milano's character Phoebe, as there was already enough focus on the show's established couple Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause).[20] However, Burge remained on Charmed as a creative consultant until season four.[21] Her departure resulted in changes in the story structure of the show, from a "demon of the week" system to using third or half-season-long story arcs. In addition, more importance was given to the protagonists' personal lives. The serial connection of episodes culminated in the second half of season four. Despite the ratings increasing during season four's final story arc from 4.19 to 4.21, The WB asked Kern to abandon the serial system. This led to the largely episodic structure of season five, and resulted in the two systems being balanced from the sixth season onwards.

 

Budget Cuts 

During the seventh season and for the first time in its history, the show had been in limbo as there was no guaranteed renewal for an eighth season.[32] Charmed was ultimately renewed for a final season, but the budget was cut considerably compared to previous seasons due to expensive special effects and props and highly-paid actresses.[18][33] Executive producer Brad Kern revealed that they had to cut back on special effects and guest stars, and that the entire season was shot only on the Paramount Studios lot as they could not go out on location anymore.[34] These budget cuts also led to cast member Dorian Gregory being written out of the final season and Brian Krause being written out of several episodes as a cost-saving measure.[18][33] Kern revealed that the show could not afford to have Krause in all 22 episodes of the final season, but he was brought back for the final two episodes to help bring closure to the storylines

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Forever8 said:

Let's not forget The WB's Charmed 

 

A lot of BTS upheaval centered around the series for years. 

 

Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano's issues and Shannen's departure 

 

The issues between Constance M. Burge and Brad Kern

 

From Wikipedia 

 

Ahead of the third season, Burge left her former position as executive producer to Kern, after she reportedly became frustrated that storylines for the third season were going to become more focused on the sisters' relationships with their love interests than each other.[19] She had disagreements with Kern over bringing the character Cole Turner (Julian McMahon) into the show as a love interest for Alyssa Milano's character Phoebe, as there was already enough focus on the show's established couple Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause).[20] However, Burge remained on Charmed as a creative consultant until season four.[21] Her departure resulted in changes in the story structure of the show, from a "demon of the week" system to using third or half-season-long story arcs. In addition, more importance was given to the protagonists' personal lives. The serial connection of episodes culminated in the second half of season four. Despite the ratings increasing during season four's final story arc from 4.19 to 4.21, The WB asked Kern to abandon the serial system. This led to the largely episodic structure of season five, and resulted in the two systems being balanced from the sixth season onwards.

 

Budget Cuts 

During the seventh season and for the first time in its history, the show had been in limbo as there was no guaranteed renewal for an eighth season.[32] Charmed was ultimately renewed for a final season, but the budget was cut considerably compared to previous seasons due to expensive special effects and props and highly-paid actresses.[18][33] Executive producer Brad Kern revealed that they had to cut back on special effects and guest stars, and that the entire season was shot only on the Paramount Studios lot as they could not go out on location anymore.[34] These budget cuts also led to cast member Dorian Gregory being written out of the final season and Brian Krause being written out of several episodes as a cost-saving measure.[18][33] Kern revealed that the show could not afford to have Krause in all 22 episodes of the final season, but he was brought back for the final two episodes to help bring closure to the storylines

 

 

See? I didn't know ANY of that!! re:Burge vs Kern.  And while I agree with Burges, I am glad we got Cole. I also liked the arcs and hated when the WB told them to do standalones. Burges had standalones with a slow build on arcs if I remember correct with character development and she had a balance then. 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Forever8 said:

Let's not forget The WB's Charmed 

 

A lot of BTS upheaval centered around the series for years. 

 

Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano's issues and Shannen's departure 

 

The issues between Constance M. Burge and Brad Kern

 

From Wikipedia 

 

Ahead of the third season, Burge left her former position as executive producer to Kern, after she reportedly became frustrated that storylines for the third season were going to become more focused on the sisters' relationships with their love interests than each other.[19] She had disagreements with Kern over bringing the character Cole Turner (Julian McMahon) into the show as a love interest for Alyssa Milano's character Phoebe, as there was already enough focus on the show's established couple Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause).[20] However, Burge remained on Charmed as a creative consultant until season four.[21] Her departure resulted in changes in the story structure of the show, from a "demon of the week" system to using third or half-season-long story arcs. In addition, more importance was given to the protagonists' personal lives. The serial connection of episodes culminated in the second half of season four. Despite the ratings increasing during season four's final story arc from 4.19 to 4.21, The WB asked Kern to abandon the serial system. This led to the largely episodic structure of season five, and resulted in the two systems being balanced from the sixth season onwards.

 

Budget Cuts 

During the seventh season and for the first time in its history, the show had been in limbo as there was no guaranteed renewal for an eighth season.[32] Charmed was ultimately renewed for a final season, but the budget was cut considerably compared to previous seasons due to expensive special effects and props and highly-paid actresses.[18][33] Executive producer Brad Kern revealed that they had to cut back on special effects and guest stars, and that the entire season was shot only on the Paramount Studios lot as they could not go out on location anymore.[34] These budget cuts also led to cast member Dorian Gregory being written out of the final season and Brian Krause being written out of several episodes as a cost-saving measure.[18][33] Kern revealed that the show could not afford to have Krause in all 22 episodes of the final season, but he was brought back for the final two episodes to help bring closure to the storylines

 

 

 

 

17 minutes ago, Taoboi said:

See? I didn't know ANY of that!! re:Burge vs Kern.  And while I agree with Burges, I am glad we got Cole. I also liked the arcs and hated when the WB told them to do standalones. Burges had standalones with a slow build on arcs if I remember correct with character development and she had a balance then. 

 

 

 

 

Kern was a cancer to the show in the long haul. The minute the show featured that crappy Phoebe mermaid arc I knew the show was sliding downwards. I quite well remember when I think it was TV Guide gave Kern the dubious distinction of "Worst Show Producer of 2004". The last three seasons of the show were a mess. Kerr Smith's character was promising but completely wasted. The final season the audience was tortured by Kaley Cuoco giving the worst performance of her life.  

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