The decision came after six women on the crew united to take action, just as Savage was gearing up to direct his ninth episode of the new comedy. At the time, the group sent a complaint to Disney and spoke to an HR rep about the director’s alleged conduct toward women on set.
When speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, one of the six in the group shares, “To their credit, I was contacted within hours. An investigation started immediately and he was barred from set.” After that, Savage was fired from the production for “allegations of inappropriate conduct,” per a spokesperson for Disney’s 20th Television.
Following his removal from the production, Savage claimed he was doing a lot of self-reflecting and cited support from his friends and colleagues from the series. Now, several of the women who initally reported Savage are speaking out with THR, because, according to one of the accusers, “I and the other women feel that people need to know what the wrongdoing was.”
It is pointed out that Savage has withstood allegations in the past, including a sexual harassment complaint from a costumer on the original Wonder Years as well as a complaint from a female crewmember on Fox‘s The Grinder, who claimed that Savage would speak rudely to women on set, yelled at, and struck her. Investigations into those claims found no evidence of wrongdoing at the time, and Savage’s career as an actor and director on titles like from Boy Meets World, Black-ish, Friends From College, The Conners, and Modern Family to 2 Broke Girls continued.
The women who worked with Savage on The Wonder Years reboot tell THR that there are two very different sides to the TV mainstay. They claim that Savage would present as a supportive colleague, but he could flip at the drop of a hat, taking on a much darker “alter ego” and “his eyes would go dead.”
Another individual clarified that Savage never showed this darker side of himself in front of actors or executives, charging that, “they all see his absolute perfect, best face,” and that the different side was reserved for “below-the-line employees who don’t have power.”
In a statement to THR, Savage said, “Since I was 6 years old, I have worked on hundreds of sets with thousands of people, and have always strived to contribute to an inclusive, safe and supportive work environment. It is devastating to learn that there are co-workers who feel I have fallen short of these goals. While there are some incidents being reported that absolutely did not and could not have happened, any one person who feels hurt or offended by my actions is one person too many. I will work to address and change any behavior that has negatively affected anyone, as nothing in this world is more important to me than being a supportive co-worker, friend, husband, father and person.”
The outlet also spoke with a crewmember who didn’t join the group complaint against Savage. She recalled a positive impression of the director and actor, stating, “Fred is very social. He would invite crew to a bar or to a little house he was renting.” But even she had some reservations, noting there was a “strangeness” to one of Savage’s relationships with a much younger woman on the crew. The 46-year-old is married and a father of three.
Other sources shared their concern that this younger crew member had allegedly moved into Savage’s home in Atlanta, where they were filming. She had reportedly also been talking about the star buying her gifts and discussing plans for what they’d do together in the future. This anonymous woman has declined to speak out, but some sources say she shared her fear of the director at times when he’d get angry.
An associate told THR that Savage was “extremely controlling of her daily behaviors” and that he was “manipulative and erratic.” Another crewmember said she’d try to shield younger women from Savage, adding, “he proceeded to verbally harass me and belittle me.”
The employees ultimately decided to report Savage after they allegely witnessed this relationship between him and the younger crewmember unfold. According to the complainants, the young woman’s personality was no longer the bubbly one they once knew and Savage’s “blatant favoritism” spurred them to take action against him with Disney HR.
A second woman came forward to claim that, while she and Savage were close, it was “very platonic” until she went through a breakup and, at the same time, was fired without warning from The Wonder Years. She was then allegedly invited by Savage to join the crew for drinks at a nearby bar, where she claims he followed her into a restroom and forced himself on her. “I said, ‘Please, don’t do this.’ I meant ruining the friendship. I was pleading, not from fear so much, but this was no going back.” Her hesitancy, she says, was brushed aside as “he put his mouth on mine very forcefully. He went for the top of my pants. I brushed him away. Then he put his mouth on mine again, grabbed my hand and pulled it on his groin area. I was pulling back. He stopped very angrily. I shoulder-checked him so I could get out.”
From that point forward, she avoided contact with Savage out of fear. She claims that he later left her a voicemail that included an apology, but she never responded.
This story is developing…