In the CBS sitcom “Designing Women,” the characters were known for speaking their minds on virtually any hot topic of the late ’80s and early ’90s, including politics, sexism and the AIDS crisis. Now the creator and executive producer of that series, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, has stepped forward to speak her mind about former CBS chairman and chief executive Les Moonves, and she’s not pulling any punches either.
Under the headline “‘Designing Women’ Creator Goes Public With Les Moonves War: Not All Harassment Is Sexual,” Bloodworth-Thomason wrote in The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that Moonves ruined her career.
“I was never sexually harassed or attacked by Les Moonves,” Bloodworth-Thomason explained. “My encounters were much more subtle, engendering a different kind of destruction. In 1992, I was given the largest writing and producing contract in the history of CBS. It was for $50 million, involving five new series with hefty penalties for each pilot not picked up.”
But after Moonves became president of CBS Entertainment in 1995, the network didn’t pick up any of her pilots, she said.
“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,” she said. “It always seemed that he enjoyed telling me this.”
Before Moonves arrived at CBS, the network had launched a number of groundbreaking feminist TV shows, including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Maude” and “Murphy Brown.” As Bloodworth-Thomason pointed out, Moonves ushered in the “CSI” era, with a number of crime shows led by men often investigating crimes in which women were victimized.
Why did the iconic women who had once shone on CBS disappear?
“I don’t know why and I didn’t ask,” Bloodworth-Thomason wrote. “I just know that the likes of them have rarely been seen on that network again. Thanks to Les Moonves, I can only guess they all became vaginal swabs in crime labs on CSI Amarillo.”
When she left CBS, Bloodworth-Thomason said Moonves agreed to pay only a fraction of the penalties due for failing to pick up her pilots. When her agent asked the executive what he should tell his client, she said Moonves replied, “Tell her to go fuck herself!”
“The truth is, Les Moonves may never be punished in the way that he deserves,” Bloodworth-Thomason said.
She added: “Perhaps the best we can do is thank Ronan Farrow and all the brave women who came forward to make sure a man like this is finally gone, while putting all the other sexual predators who are still in our business on notice. We are not going to stop until every last one of you is gone. We don’t care anymore if you go to jail or go to hell. Just know at some point that you are leaving.”
CBS did not respond to a request for comment.