‘Designing Women’ Creator Says Les Moonves Sidelined Her Career for 7 Years: ‘Go F– Yourself’

“People asked me for years, ‘Where have you been? What happened to you?’ Les Moonves happened to me,” Linda Bloodworth-Thomason says

Linda Bloodworth Thomason
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLSEN

“Designing Women” creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason accused ousted CBS chief Les Moonves of sidelining her career for seven years in an guest column published by The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday.

In the piece titled “Designing Women’ Creator Goes Public With Les Moonves War: Not All Harassment Is Sexual,” Bloodworth-Thomason said Moonves — who resigned late Sunday from CBS, following a second wave of sexual misconduct accusations that came out that morning in another New Yorker piece penned by Ronan Farrow — changed her future at the network. She channeled her “finest Julia Sugarbaker” to tell him off.

Bloodworth-Thomason also calls out Moonves for misogynistic behavior and recounts one incident where “a famous actress” was “coming off the cancellation of her iconic detective show” and pitching a new one to Moonves when “he informed her that she was too old to be on his network.”

“She began to cry and stood up to go,” Bloodworth-Thomason writes. “He stood up too, taking her by the shoulders and telling her, ‘I can’t let you leave like this.’ She reacted, suddenly touched. Then he shoved his tongue down her throat. I know this happened because the star is the person who told me.”

The executive producer wrote that CBS chairman Howard Stringer and president Jeff Sagansky were huge fans of her show, but when they left the network and Moonves rose to power, her days were numbered.

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.

Bloodworth-Thomason said she continued to try to “win over Moonves” over the years, but he turned down every pilot she wrote and refused to give her scripts to any of the stars he had under contract.

“It would have been so easy, not to mention honorable, to simply tell me he was never going to put a show of mine on the air,” Bloodworth-Thomason wrote. “That was certainly his right. But instead, he kept me hopping and hoping. When I finally realized he was never going to put a show of mine on the air, I left. It was never really about the money anyway, I just wanted to work. People asked me for years, ‘Where have you been? What happened to you?’ Les Moonves happened to me.”

CBS had no comment when reached by TheWrap, and forwarded the request to representatives for Moonves who did not immediately respond.

The producer said she was “not surprised when Moonves finally admitted on Sept. 9 that he ‘may have made some women uncomfortable’ and that ‘those were mistakes’” and said she thinks he “may never be punished in the way that he deserves” and “will almost certainly never go to jail.”

“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,” she wrote. “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.

“And as for you, Mr. 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 f— yourself!”