‘Canceled’

TV writer says she wasn’t harassed by ex-CBS CEO Les Moonves — but he destroyed her career anyway

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for GLSEN)

Five-time Emmy nominated TV writer Linda Bloodworth Thomason has written an article claiming that former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who was recently forced to step down after being accused of sexual misconduct by at least 12 women, deliberately sabotaged her career. Thomason, who created long-running comedies Designing Women and Evening Shade, among others, and wrote for hits such as M*A*S*H and Rhoda, was a mainstay on the CBS lineup between 1975 and 1995. But despite working under what was at the time one of the largest writing and producing contracts in the history of the network, her work abruptly disappeared from the airwaves in 1995. What happened?

“Les Moonves happened,” she wrote in a scathing guest column for The Hollywood Reporter. “When the legendary Bette Midler informed Moonves that she wanted to do a series with me, I’m told he denied her request. When the singer Huey Lewis, whom Les had become enamored with, chose me to write a pilot for him, his contract was canceled.”

Thomason says she never knew the exact motives for Moonves apparent vendetta against her, noting that she wasn’t one of the many women he allegedly harassed and then punished for refusing his advances. But she did hear from an insider at the network that Moonves “especially hated Designing Women and their loud-mouthed speeches.” His other behavior, she said, even besides the rumors of his proclivity for abusing his women employees, indicated a deep-rooted disdain for women’s narratives. Moonves, she claimed, removed portraits of historic television stars such as Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Candace Bergen, and Bea Arthur from the walls of the studio, and worked to shift the network’s content toward more male-dominated programming — most strikingly, “a plethora of macho crime shows featuring a virtual genocide of dead naked hotties in morgue drawers with sadistic female autopsy reports.”

“Like a lot of women in Hollywood, I am happy to dance on his professional grave,” concluded Thomason. “And not just any dance — this will be the Macarena, the rumba, the cha-cha and the Moonwalk.”

The writer’s fiery denunciation of the executive who’s been accused of being a misogynist drew widespread praise on social media, as people inside and outside the television industry expressed appreciation for her thoughts — as well as her numerous and devastating zingers. Read some of the social media responses below.

Read Thomason’s guest column at The Hollywood Reporter and further coverage of the story at Yahoo News.

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