If you ever watched CBS between 1975 and 1995, the name Linda Bloodworth Thomason should be familiar. Best known as the creator of the long-running comedy Designing Women, she also made Evening Shade (starring the late Burt Reynolds) and wrote for network hits like Rhoda and M*A*S*H. However, in the mid-1990s, Bloodworth Thomason’s name vanished from America’s television sets. What happened to the five-time Emmy nominee who’d created six shows for CBS? In a scathing Hollywood Reporter piece, Thomason has finally revealed the answer: “Les Moonves happened to me.”
Moonves, the longtime head of CBS, stepped down Sunday night following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. His exit emboldened Bloodworth Thomason to describe the abuse she endured under his tenure. “I was never sexually harassed or attacked by Les Moonves,” she wrote in her guest column titled “Not All Harassment Is Sexual.” “My encounters were much more subtle, engendering a different kind of destruction.”
Bloodworth Thomason goes on to describe how Moonves shut down her career at every turn beginning in 1995. Though she was working under what she describes as “the largest writing and producing contract in the history of CBS,” reportedly estimated to be $45 million, the network president would not allow a single pilot of hers to be produced for seven years. “When the legendary Bette Midler informed Moonves that she wanted to do a series with me, I’m told he denied her request,” she said. “When the singer Huey Lewis, whom Les had become enamored with, chose me to write a pilot for him, his contract was canceled.”
Bloodworth Thomason doesn’t know a specific reason for Moonves’s vendetta against her, but was told by someone at the network that he “especially hated Designing Women and their loud-mouthed speeches.” When she first met Moonves, she recalled, he gave her such a “menacing look” that she was reminded of the stare she got from Charles Manson as a young reporter covering his trial.
Bloodworth Thomason soon began to hear stories from colleagues about Moonves’ mistreatment of women — including the time he “shoved his tongue” into the mouth of one “iconic” CBS detective-show star after telling her that she was too old to appear on his network. (FYI, CBS was home to both Murder, She Wrote and Cagney & Lacey.) Bloodworth Thomason said Moonves even removed the portraits of historic female television stars (Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Candace Bergen, Bea Arthur) from the walls of the CBS studio, and she believes he deliberately changed the focus of the network to male-dominated shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two-and-a-Half Men.
The writer-producer ends her editorial by channeling Julia Sugarbaker, the fierce Southern feminist played by Dixie Carter in Designing Women, and giving Moonves a profane three-word send-off.
Reaction on social media to the piece has been overwhelming, with many praising Bloodworth Thomason’s zingers.
Thank you, thank you, Linda Bloodworth Thomason. This article is sad but also funny and it breaks my heart that we didn't get more shows created by you, starring hilarious women.
What she said: ”I don’t feel inspired anymore. I just feel angry."https://t.co/LBk5cQ9O9r
— Nell Scovell (@NellSco) September 12, 2018
Among the other incredible aspects of this THR Linda Bloodworth Thomason column, this description of the Les Moonves aesthetic feels definitive: "A virtual genocide of dead naked hotties in morgue drawers." pic.twitter.com/ZffB8OMoiZ
— Darren Franich (@DarrenFranich) September 12, 2018
The Linda Bloodworth-Thomason op-ed on Moonves derailing her brilliant career is enraging because it’s exactly how it happens. Man in charge decides he doesn’t like you, there’s no redeeming you, so he’ll toy with you until he’s done with you.
— Lea Goldman (@lea) September 12, 2018
"I noticed these iconic women were no longer adorning the walls (of CBS)…Thanks to Les Moonves, I can only guess they all became vaginal swabs in crime labs on CSI Amarillo."
'Designing Women' Creator Goes Public With Les Moonves War. https://t.co/10o6vruEr4
— Lisa Gabriele (@lisagabrieletv) September 12, 2018
“Like a lot of women in Hollywood, I am happy to dance on his professional grave. And not just any dance — this will be the Macarena, the rumba, the cha-cha and the Moonwalk.” pic.twitter.com/mzjMPk9yD9
— Gerrick D. Kennedy (@GerrickKennedy) September 12, 2018
If the information in her editorial checks out (and it does align with other accusations against Moonves), there are probably a lot of other women out there who would like to do the same.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
- Stephen Colbert and James Corden speak out following Les Moonves exit
- Kathy Griffin tells off Julie Chen in Twitter tirade: ‘F*** you and your misogynistic husband’
- Exclusive: Les Moonves Was Obsessed With Ruining Janet Jackson’s Career, Sources Say