Investigative reporter Ronan Farrow reported the stories of Illeana Douglas, Janet Jones, Dinah Kirgo, Christine Peters, a former child actress named Kimberly, and an anonymous actress from a long-running CBS police drama, all of whom say they were harassed, assaulted, and intimidated by Moonves.
In a statement, Moonves denied the accusations: “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
Farrow talked to a long list of people who work behind the scenes of Moonves’s network and several people known to audiences who disagree.
Here’s a recap of the more recognizable names that pop up in Farrow’s weighty piece — and one that doesn’t:
Chen, the host of The Talk, is not mentioned in Farrow’s piece, but she’s definitely part of the executive’s saga, because she married him in 2004. Hours after the story broke, Chen gave a statement of support for Moonves.
The actress told Ronan Farrow that she met Moonves in 1996, as she sought a TV deal for writing or performing. He eventually cast her in a pilot. After summoning her to go over something about the show, he assaulted her, Douglas said. “What it feels like to have someone hold you down — you can’t breathe, you can’t move,” she told Farrow. “The physicality of it was horrendous.” She said he demanded that she stay quiet about what had happened and then fired her for being upset. Moonves denies “any characterization of ‘sexual assault,’ intimidation, or retaliatory action, including berating [Douglas] on set and personally firing her.”
Douglas issued a statement of her own after Farrow’s story was published: “Real change will occur when victims of sexual assaults are not stigmatized as whistle blowers, or people with some kind of agenda for coming forward. Speaking for myself, real change will occur when I can walk through the front doors of CBS and resume the creative and working relationship that was so tragically cut short in 1997.”
Penelope Ann Miller
The Riverdale actress was Douglas’s co-star on the pilot from which she was fired. Miller vouched for Douglas’s account of being upset after the alleged Moonves assault. “There was obviously something going on with her emotionally,” Miller said. “When she came in to test, everything was on. And then, after, on set, it was like she wasn’t there.”
When Moonves met Douglas, he told her he was a fan of her work in the award-winning director’s movies Cape Fear and Goodfellas, and that’s why he wanted her to work for CBS. Scorsese was also Douglas’s longtime love interest, from 1989 to 1997, and she turned to him for advice after the alleged assault. According to the New Yorker story, Scorsese “urged her to be cautious about taking legal action against such a powerful person, but agreed to refer her to his law firm.” He told Farrow, “I believed Illeana. What happened to her was reprehensible.”
The Fast Times at Ridgemont High actor, who was a co-star when Douglas was fired, sent an email in support of her for the New Yorker piece: “Illeana was hilariously unique in her comedy and fun to work with. We were all surprised and disappointed that she left.”
Unnamed CBS actress
A woman described as “a prominent actress who played a police officer on a long-running CBS program” said that, in the late ’80s, Moonves asked her to a lunch meeting. He told her that he’d had a crush on her, but that he’d stayed away in the past because she was dating a mutual friend. The anonymous woman turned him down. When Moonves was named president of CBS in 1995, she congratulated him, and he jokingly — at least she thought so — said, “You should have f***ed me when I asked you to.” Shortly after, she was told her deal with CBS was ending. She said that when she confronted Moonves, he forcibly kissed her. “He had approached me to go to bed with him twice, but he did it politely,” the woman said. “But this time he just stuck his tongue down my throat.” (CBS said Moonves does not recall making unwanted advances to the actress.)
Former child star identified as Kimberly
The unnamed actress was introduced to Moonves, who she was told could help her find TV work, by a woman on his staff. Kimberly said that, at a dinner meeting, when the two had a moment alone, Moonves said, “Let’s go. Let’s just get a hotel room. Let’s just do this.” Kimberly declined. “The power differential was so great,” she said. “I was really scared, because I thought I was burning some sort of a bridge that was going to be great for me.” Again, CBS said Moonves doesn’t remember any such meeting.
Part of the New Yorker story focuses on the culture at Moonves’s company, specifically at CBS News. Former CBS anchor and 60 Minutes contributor Couric was one former employee who spoke up. It “felt like a boys’ club, where a number of talented women seemed to be marginalized and undervalued,” Couric said.
The longtime 60 Minutes correspondent commented on Jeff Fager, currently the show’s executive producer, who had earlier been appointed chairman of CBS News by Moonves. Farrow talked to six of Fager’s former employees who said he touched them inappropriately while inebriated at company social events. “I work there part time,” Cooper said, “but in all the years I’ve been there I’ve never seen Jeff engage in any inappropriate behavior.”
The former CBS This Morning anchor, who was fired over sexual harassment allegations in November, was used as an example of how Moonves’s alleged behavior trickled down through the network. (It should be noted Rose has denied the allegations against him, issued an apology, and now plans a TV series featuring men taken down by sexual harassment allegations.)
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