Two weeks after Julie Chen, wife of ousted CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves, announced on-air she was exiting The Talk “to spend more time at home with my husband and our young son,” one of Moonves’s accusers told her story for the first time on TV to The Talk competitor The View.
Illeana Douglas said that, in 1996, she struck a TV production deal at CBS after being “courted by all the studios” following the success of the movie Grace of My Heart. The workplace comedy she developed for CBS did not make it to air and she got asked to instead co-star in a new comedy series.
Her account of what happened mirrored that she had given to Ronan Farrow in New Yorker magazine.
After auditioning for the role, she recounted on The View, she was told Moonves wanted to meet with her to discuss his concern about her “attitude” since she had not developed the project. Meeting with Moonves in his office, she said he began asking her a lot of personal questions, over which she stumbled “and that led to him jumping on top of me and putting his tongue down my throat and pinning me down on the couch.”
“I heard about the casting couch experience…but I came from the artistic bubble of doing low budget indie films,” she told The View panelists. “I respected [Moonves], I thought of him as a father figure” she said, and therefore had had no concern at meeting with him in his office.
“Once he saw I wasn’t participating, he stopped,” she described, alleging Moonves told her “we’re going to keep this between you and me, right?”
“I just wanted to get the heck out of there,” Douglas said.
Shortly thereafter, Douglas said on The View, she got a phone call from her manager asking how the meeting had gone, “because Les just called…He said you guys had a lot of fun.”
Days later, Douglas said, she was replaced on the sitcom; her deal was canceled citing “poor performance.” Douglas said Moonves called personally to fire her.
The View‘s Sonny Hostin told viewers that, in an email to ABC News, a spokesperson for Moonves said he had no new statement to issue. In his statement to New Yorker, which had been first to report Douglas’ allegations, CBS had said Moonves acknowledges trying to kiss Douglas “but denies any characterization of sexual assault, intimidation, or retaliatory action,” Hostin said.
Douglas said she fully plans to cooperate “with the investigation of CBS.”