Linda Bloodworth Thomason (Designing Women, Evening Shade and so on) is dancing on Les Moonves’ grave, as she put it, in a tough column for Hollywood Reporter on the ouster of the CBS executive after multiple reports of harassment.
She said she was never sexually harassed by Moonves, but he did keep her shows off the air for seven years.
She recounts what happened after a change of leadership to Moonves. Not long before, she’d landed a $50 million contract to produce new series for CBS.
By 1995, Mr. Stringer and Mr. Sagansky were gone and a new, unknown (to me) president named Les Moonves had taken over. By then, I was producing a new pilot, prophetically titled Fully Clothed Non-Dancing Women. I was immediately concerned when I heard that Mr. Moonves was rumored to be a big fan of topless bars. Then, someone delivered the news that he especially hated Designing Women and their loud-mouthed speeches. He showed up at the first table read and took a chair directly across from mine (actress Illeana Douglas, who later accused him of sexual harassment, sat next to me). Having been voted most popular in high school, I felt confident that I would be able to charm him. I was wrong. He sat and stared at me throughout the entire reading with eyes that were stunningly cold, as in, “You are so dead.” I had not experienced such a menacing look since Charles Manson tried to stare me down on a daily basis when I was a young reporter covering that trial. As soon as the pilot was completed, Moonves informed me that it would not be picked up. I was at the pinnacle of my career. I would not work again for seven years.
During that period, because my contract was so valuable, I continued trying to win over Moonves. And he continued turning down every pilot I wrote. Often, if he would catch me in the parking lot, he would make sure to tell me that my script was one of the best he’d read but that he had decided, in the end, not to do it. It always seemed that he enjoyed telling me this. Just enough to keep me in the game. I was told he refused to give my scripts to any of the stars he had under contract. Then, I began to hear from female CBS employees about his mercurial, misogynist behavior, with actresses being ushered in and out of his office. His mantra, I was told, was, “Why would I wanna cast ’em if I don’t wanna fuck ’em?” And he was an angry bully who enjoyed telling people, “I will tear off the top of your head and piss on your brain!
She said she learned of other ways Moonves had stood in the way of her projects. She never knew why and finally left CBS.
For years, Moonves loaded up the network with highly profitable, male-dominated series, always careful to stir in and amply reward an occasional actress, like the fabulous Patti Heaton or the irresistible Kaley Cuoco. But mostly, he presided over a plethora of macho crime shows featuring a virtual genocide of dead naked hotties in morgue drawers, with sadistic female autopsy reports, ratcheted up each week (“Is that a missing breast implant, lieutenant?” “Yes sir, we also found playing cards in her uterus.”) On the day I officially parted company with CBS, the same day Mr. Moonves said he would only pay a tiny fraction of the penalties, my incredulous agent asked what he should tell me. Mr. Moonves replied, “Tell her to go fuck herself!”
I was not surprised when Moonves finally admitted on Sept. 9 that he “may have made some women uncomfortable” and that “those were mistakes.” Let’s be clear. Shoving your tongue or penis down a woman’s throat during an office meet and greet is not a “mistake.” It is an act of terror. It cannot be corrected with a special Hallmark card saying, “Sorreee! My bad!”
She says Moonves may never be punished in the manner he deserves. And she lauds those who’ve come forward and Ronan Farrow for telling their stories. She’s not of a mind to be high-minded, however, in addressing Moonves:
… in spite of the fact that I was raised to be a proper Southern female, and with your acknowledgement that I have never, in my life, spoken a single cross word to you, despite the way you treated me, may I simply say, channeling my finest Julia Sugarbaker delivery: “Go fuck yourself!”
She’s currently working on a memoir. It’s likely to be highly readable.