Brow Beat

The Creator of Designing Women Accuses Les Moonves of Sabotaging Her Career

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.
Writer and creator of Designing Women, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, at the GLAAD Media Awards.
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

In a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the creator of the ‘80s CBS sitcom Designing Women, recounts her personal experiences with the network’s recently ousted chairman and CEO Les Moonves. Unlike the other women leveling allegations against Moonves, however, Bloodworth-Thomason’s column does not accuse Moonves of any unwanted sexual advances toward her. (Moonves has denied many of those accusations and has characterized his relationship with three of his accusers as consensual.) Instead, Bloodworth-Thomason says that Moonves is responsible for a “a different kind of destruction” in her life—that is, the destruction of her professional career.

In the column, Bloodworth-Thomason writes that, in 1992, following the success of Designing Women and Evening Shade, she was given a $50 million contract with CBS to produce five new shows, with substantial penalties for each rejected pilot. Three years later, however, Moonves took over CBS, and from that point on Bloodworth-Thomason was unable to get any of her new shows on the air. She writes that Moonves seemed to have a “personal vendetta” against her, the cause of which was unknown, and she accuses him of refusing to cast any of the stars under CBS contract for her scripts, killing deals as soon as they gained some traction, and even cancelling Huey Lewis’ contract when he asked that she write him a pilot. “When I finally realized he was never going to put a show of mine on the air, I left,” she writes. “People asked me for years, ‘Where have you been? What happened to you?’ Les Moonves happened to me.”

Aside from her unpleasant professional interactions with the man, Bloodworth-Thomason says she also knew of Moonves’ alleged sexual misconduct, claiming that he once invited a famous actress to lunch and, after telling her she was too old to be on CBS, “shoved his tongue down her throat.” She also claims that he was famous for saying of actresses, “Why would I wanna cast ’em if I don’t wanna fuck ’em?” She extended that accusation of misogyny to CBS’ changing lineup under Moonves’ watch, which went from celebrated shows with female leads like Maude and Murphy Brown to “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.”

Bloodworth-Thomason concludes on a grim note, writing that “Les Moonves may never be punished in the way that he deserves” and noting that he has made hundreds of millions of dollars during his time at CBS. (It’s unclear at this time whether he’ll also receive a payout for stepping down.) Yet, she does end on an inspiring note, by saying that, “we are not going to stop until every last one of you is gone,” and adding a personal message for Moonves: “Go fuck yourself!”

Update, Sept. 13, 2018, at 6:25 pm: Linda Bloodworth-Thomason has followed up her searing column about Moonves and CBS by announcing a Designing Women sequel at another network: ABC. She and husband Harry Thomason will co-produce the new multicam comedy, which will follow “the next generation of Sugarbakers with a crop of new, young, female designers at an Atlanta interior design firm,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. “Normally, I’m not a fan of reboots but Designing Women does seem to have the right fengshui for all that is going on right now. We could definitely have some fun,” Bloodworth-Thompson said.