This TV Star Says She Felt "Intimidated" Into Silence After On-Set Accident
Why Kristin Chenoweth didn't speak up about being injured on the set of The Good Wife in 2012.
It's been 10 years, but actor Kristin Chenoweth is still feeling the effects—physically and emotionally—from an accident that happened on the set of a hit TV show. While filming a guest role on The Good Wife in 2012, the actor was badly injured and says she has had hundreds of doctors' appointments in the time since. But, aside from the pain left in her body, she has also struggled with other issues following the accident, including the way she says the show's network, CBS, handled the situation and how she responded to that supposed intimidation.
Chenoweth opens up about all of this in an essay for the book My Moment: 106 Women on Fighting for Themselves, which is out May 24. The actor's essay was published by Marie Claire ahead of the book's release. Read on to find out more about the Tony winner's devastating accident and to find out what she has to say about it now.
Chenoweth was hurt by a piece of lighting equipment.
Chenoweth was on two episodes of The Good Wife that aired in 2012. While filming a scene in Brooklyn, New York, a piece of lighting equipment fell on her and knocked her into a curb. She was then rushed to the hospital. "My injuries were severe," she writes in the essay. "My ribs were cracked. My nose and some of my teeth were broken, and I had a skull fracture. And those were just the injuries that actually showed up on X-rays; never mind the nerve, tissue, and muscle damage I'd have to face in the weeks, months, and years that followed."
CBS confirmed the accident in a statement at the time.
After the accident occurred, CBS told Entertainment Weekly in a statement, "This afternoon, while filming a scene for The Good Wife in Brooklyn, a gust of wind blew a lighting silk out of place striking actress Kristin Chenoweth. She received treatment on the scene by the show's medic until a New York Fire Department emergency medical team arrived and transported her to the hospital. All of us at the studio and the show are thinking about Kristin and wishing her a quick recovery."
Chenoweth's guest role on the show then came to an end sooner than expected, as she was set to have a longer arc. She told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, "It is with deep regret to inform everyone that due to my injuries, I am unable to return to The Good Wife at this time. Getting better slowly, and thank you everyone for your concern."
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She was scared to talk about it—and to anger the studio.
In the essay, Chenoweth explains that she tried not to share much about the accident publicly for two reasons. First, she was scared of being seen as "weak and broken," because she thought it could negatively impact her career. Second, she "didn't want to be 'a problem' for CBS."
She writes, "I was advised by a couple of folks on my team and outside of my team too that it would be unwise to attempt to hold CBS accountable for what was clearly their responsibility … I was told that I'd never work again if I sued a major network. And that scared me. I let fear take over and did what so many people do—especially women—in the face of going up against someone or something more powerful than they are. I shrunk."
She also says that when paparazzi photos of her smiling outside of a dentist appointment surfaced, CBS wrote her attorneys and said it looked like she was doing great. "I wasn't doing great, but my sucking-it-up smile for a paparazzi photo was weaponized against me, and again, I felt intimidated," she writes.
Her anger helped her stop feeling afraid.
Chenoweth explains that after spending years dealing with chronic pain and doctors' appointments, "I finally got mad about the whole thing. The injustice of it all finally began to take up more space inside of me than the fear did."
So, she decided to start talking about her experience more and stop caring whether CBS would hire her again. Plus, she says that the executives she was dealing with at the network at the time are no longer there. (Former CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves stepped down in 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Though Chenoweth doesn't name him in her essay, he was in that position at the time of her accident.)
"Unfortunately, the powers that be at CBS at the time did not take responsibility for what happened to me, but there's a new regime at the network and they're just lovely to work with," she writes. "Leadership matters. Full stop."
She hopes that by sharing her experience, she is supporting other who are dealing with the effects of workplace injuries and that she encourages other women and girls "not to operate from a place of fear like I did for so long, but rather, listen to the voice inside of you that knows you are valuable and strong."
Best Life has reached out to CBS for comment but has yet to receive a response.