Entertainment

Can CBS Be on Right Side of #MeToo Movement After Its Association with the Accused?

Network is debuting five reboots this fall — and at least one will dedicate an entire episode to sexual harassment

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CBS has five rebooted television shows that are debuting this fall — and one in particular is going to dedicate an entire episode to the #MeToo movement.

“Murphy Brown” — which initially aired from 1988 to 1998 — is back for a 13-episode season on September 27.

Despite the network’s not-so-great reputation with women, the new season will feature an episode called “#MurphyToo,” which will focus on how different generations handle the issue of sexual harassment.

The episode will contrast the situation between investigative journalist Murphy’s generation — and that of her son’s (Jake McDorman).

The show’s screenwriter, Diane English, explained to The Hollywood Reporter the significance of being able to do such an episode.

“I was surprised by certain revelations and cover-ups,” English said of the #MeToo movement. “We know what goes on, but I was a little blinded to the extent of it — because it was never my experience. It’s been a bit of wake-up call, which was another motivation for doing this.”

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CBS, however, has a dubious record when it comes to the issue of sexual harassment.

Earlier in the month, the company’s chairman, Les Moonves, resigned after a slew of women accused him of both sexual harassment and intimidation.

In July, he was placed under investigation by the CBS board, following a Ronan Farrow report that accused him of misconduct.

In addition to stepping down from his post, Moonves agreed to donate $20 million of his $140 million contract payout to the #MeToo movement.

Moonves has stayed with the channel as an unpaid adviser.

Although he’s no longer a major part of the network, his wife, Julie Chen, is showing support for him in light of such allegations.

Recently closing out CBS’ reality series “Big Brother,” a show she has hosted for the past 17 years, she referred to herself as “Julie Chen-Moonves.”

Speaking Friday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo pointed out that Chen had never before referred to herself using her husband’s last name on the show.

That said, he believes she did so to show support for her husband during a time that many women have made allegations against him.

“I thought Les was gonna pop out that door,” host Laura Ingraham joked. “That would’ve been more fun.”

One major issue with current shows of support toward Moonves is not only the number of women accusing him of misconduct — but also that one prominent Hollywood figure wrote an account of one of his alleged misdeeds.

“Designing Women” creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason wrote of one experience she heard of from a prominent actress in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.

“Coming off the cancellation of her iconic detective show, the star began pitching a new one,” she wrote. “He informed her that she was too old to be on his network. She began to cry and stood up to go. He stood up, too, taking her by the shoulders and telling her, ‘I can’t let you leave like this.’ She reacted, suddenly touched. Then he shoved his tongue down her throat. I know this happened because the star is the person who told me.”

Given its long association with Moonves, CBS’ ability to be on the side of righteousness in the #MeToo movement may be more difficult than perhaps it thought.

Arroyo told Ingraham he believed Bloodworth-Thomason was referring to Angela Lansbury — the star of “Murder, She Wrote,” which aired on CBS from 1984 to 1996.

Given its long association with Moonves, CBS’ ability to be on the side of righteousness in the #MeToo movement may be more difficult than perhaps it thought.

Besides “Murphy Brown,” CBS’ other reboots this fall include “Magnum P.I.,” “S.W.A.T.,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “MacGyver.”

Check out the full segment from “The Ingraham Angle” below:

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.

Tom Joyce
meet the author

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

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