I have a new favorite person and her name is Linda Bloodworth Thomason. Today, in The Hollywood Reporter, the longtime television writer and Designing Women creator, went after former CBS executive Les Moonves, who stands accused of sexual assault and harassment by a dozen women. She is my new favorite person because in doing so, she delivers some of the finest and most creative burns imaginable.
And then there’s the part where she tells him to go fuck himself.
Thomason doesn’t have a story of alleged sexual abuse or harassment by Moonves, who resigned on Sunday, just over a month after blessed Ronan Farrow broke the news of the accusations against him. Instead, she says, “My encounters were much more subtle, engendering a different kind of destruction.” Most notably to her career.
Her column follows on the heels of Times Up’s letter yesterday calling on CBS to donate $120 million—the amount reserved for Moonves’ severance—to organizations addressing sexual harassment and workplace safety.
In 1992, Thomason was given a $50 million writing and producing contract at CBS. “Designing Women was my flagship CBS show, and Evening Shade had just been lauded as the best new comedy of the season,” she writes. But by 1995, Moonves joined as president of CBS and Thomason says she got the word “that he especially hated Designing Women and their loud-mouthed speeches.”
When he came to the first table read for her new pilot, Fully Clothed Non-Dancing Women, she says he “sat and stared at me throughout the entire reading with eyes that were stunningly cold. Thomason adds, “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.” Moonves soon told her that the pilot would not be picked up. “I was at the pinnacle of my career. I would not work again for seven years.”
As she tells it, Moonves kept turning down her pilots, often giving her just enough encouragement “to keep me in the game.” She continues:
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!”
During that time, she says she nonetheless “took pride in being part of a network that always seemed to be rife with crazy, interesting, brash women, from Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda, to Maude, to Murphy Brown, to the Designing Women.” But then one day, while in the original CBS building, she “noticed that the portraits of all these iconic women were no longer adorning the walls.” And then comes my favorite burn: “Thanks to Les Moonves, I can only guess they all became vaginal swabs in crime labs on CSI Amarillo.” Thomason continues:
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!”
That brings me to her parting words, which live up to the promise delivered at the beginning of her piece when she announces outright: “It’s not going to be wise or inspiring. It’s going to be petty and punishing.” Those final words are, of course, “Go fuck yourself!”