Actress Illeana Douglas was among the first women to speak out publicly against CBS CEO Les Moonves. Now, after she and others told their stories about how he sexually harassed and assaulted them, he has been ousted from his perch as one of the most powerful men in media.
On Tuesday, Douglas made her first television appearance since Moonves’ downfall—notably choosing to sit down with ABC’s The View as opposed to the CBS knockoff The Talk, which, until very recently, was moderated by Moonves’ wife Julie Chen.
Douglas, perhaps best known for her roles in films like Goodfellas and Cape Fear, retold her story about Moonves to The View co-hosts, from the way Moonves told her she and her sitcom co-star were going to be “the next Laverne and Shirley” to the call she received saying he wanted to see her in his office to talk to her about her “attitude.”
“He started to ask me a lot of personal questions and I was stumbling and fumbling and not really knowing what to say,” she said, “and that of course led to him jumping on top of me and putting his tongue down my throat and pinning me down on the couch.” Douglas said that when it started to happen, she went on “autopilot” and had let her guard down because she “respected” Moonves and “thought of him as a father figure.”
One reason why she believes she initially “didn’t tell anyone” what happened, Douglas explained, is that when she got to her car in the parking lot and “broke down crying,” she got a call from her manager to say that Moonves had just called her to say how much “fun” they had had during their meeting. His rush to characterize the meeting one way made her fear her version would not be believed.
“That’s his idea of fun,” Joy Behar remarked.
Just a few days later, Douglas was fired from the sitcom due to her “poor performance.” She said, “I think what he’s referring to was my ‘poor performance’ when we were alone together in his office.”
Douglas did tell one friend who was staying with her at the time what happened, and he has since corroborated her story, but she said they decided not to tell anyone else because they were “new to Hollywood” they thought, “Well, I guess this is what happens in Hollywood.”