Actress Illeana Douglas shared graphic accusations of sexual misconduct against CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves on Friday in a New Yorker story by Ronan Farrow, in which six women accused him of harassment.
Douglas said that during a business meeting with Moonves in 1997 surrounding the CBS series “Queens,” she was pinned down with her arms over her head while Moonves “violently” kissed her.
Moonves admitted in a statement to making advances against numerous unnamed women “decades ago,” but said he’s never misused his power to hinder careers.
“In a millisecond, he’s got one arm over me, pinning me,” Douglas told Farrow, who added that Moonves held her down on his office couch.
“What it feels like to have someone hold you down — you can’t breathe, you can’t move,” she said. “The physicality of it was horrendous.”
While addressing script concerns at the meeting, Douglas said, Moonves changed the subject to her relationship status (Douglas had just ended a 10-year relationship with director Martin Scorsese, the New Yorker reported).
At one point Moonves asked to kiss Douglas, she said, telling her, “it’ll just be between you and me. Come on, you’re not some nubile virgin.”
After refusing him, Douglas tried to preserve Moonves’ dignity by flattering him over his kissing style, she said. As she went to exit his office, Douglas said Moonves backed her into a wall and pressed against her.
“He says, ‘We’re going to keep this between you and me, right?'” she said. She agreed.
“It was so invasive,” Douglas added. “It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”
Douglas said she met Moonves in 1996, as she was shopping for an overall network deal after an award-nominated turn on HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” Moonves offered her a $300,000 fee to write a TV pilot and appear in numerous CBS shows, she said, adding that the arrangement quickly dissolved. She said she lost both her representatives after she rejected the powerful executive.
Following the meeting where the accused harassment took place, Douglas’ life at CBS changed dramatically, she said. Moonves visited the set of “Queens” the following week, the New Yorker reported, and began to complain about her performance. It culminated in a personal call from Moonves to Douglas, the actress said, where she says he told her, “You make me f—ing sick. You are not funny.”
In rapid succession, Douglas said, her agent Patrick Whitesell (the WME co-CEO was employed by Creative Artists Agency at the time) dropped her from his roster. Whitesell had no immediate comment on the matter. Talent manager Melissa Prophet dropped Douglas as a client, as well.
The actress told the New Yorker she was fired by her manager for having burned bridges at CBS. When reached by TheWrap, Prophet said, “The reason I fired her was because of her behavior on set, screaming at me.”
Prophet said a pattern of hostility led to the end of their relationship, though she could not speak to whether this so-called hostility was inspired by events with Moonves. A rep for Douglas declined to comment on Prophet’s statement about the end of their working relationship.
Read Douglas’ full accusations against Moonves at The New Yorker.