Dinah Kirgo Says Les Moonves Damaged Her Career After She Rebuffed Him
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We've reported that the longtime chairman and chief executive of CBS Corporation, Leslie Moonves, has been accused by multiple women of making crude and unwanted sexual advances toward them and then retaliating against them professionally when he was rebuffed. Ronan Farrow published this report in The New Yorker on Friday.
Now we're going to hear from one of the women who says she experienced this. Dinah Kirgo is an Emmy Award-winning TV writer. She wrote for "The Tracey Ullman Show" and "Beverly Hills, 90210." She told Farrow she first encountered Moonves in the early 1980s when he was a vice president at a production company partnering with Columbia Pictures Television. Dinah Kirgo is speaking out publicly for the first time since the article came out. And Dinah Kirgo is with us now from Los Angeles.
Dinah, thanks for talking with us.
DINAH KIRGO: Oh, thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: So you and your sister Julie, who's your producing partner, had a meeting with him, and you left that meeting thinking that you had a deal. What happened after that?
KIRGO: Right. Julie and Leslie and I all felt really great after the meeting. You know, it went really well. We had known him - not well, but we were friendly with him - and so Julie and I both felt like, OK, I think this is where we're going to be for a while.
And I got home from the meeting in mid-afternoon. And my phone was ringing, and it was Leslie. And he said, boy, what a great meeting. I said, I know. We're really excited about working with you. And he said, well, I think we should have a dinner. And I said, great. Julie and I would love to have dinner with you. And he said, no - just you and me. And that kind of floored me.
And I'm not actually sure what I said in response, but he said, look, you're really expensive, and I need to know you're worth it. And that really shook me up a bit. And I said something like, Leslie, I don't think your wife would appreciate that kind of dinner. And the conversation ended, and he went from being very friendly to being really cold. And I never heard from him again. Julie never heard from him again. And, obviously, we never worked together.
MARTIN: Now, The New Yorker reported that CBS has responded to this account by saying that Moonves has no recollection of the meeting or the phone call.
MARTIN: And we should also say that Moonves said in a statement about the broader reporting about this conduct that he says - and I quote - "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've never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career." But I understand that you do believe he did retaliate against you. How so?
KIRGO: Well, in just the simple fact that he didn't hire us after he had been rebuffed by me. There was no offer forthcoming. So to say that he's not responsible for damaging anybody's career - if you're not getting employed because you've rebuffed somebody, that's damage.
MARTIN: What has it been like the last couple of days as your story and those of others have come out?
KIRGO: I did not read Ronan Farrow's article until Friday. And I actually was just completely sickened by the stories of the other women. And I sort of felt like, god, like, my story's so minor. And I was lucky in that - and my sister and I were in this meeting together, so nothing happened to me physically with Leslie. But I was just so disturbed. And people think that we're trying to take these guys down, and that is - at least in my case, that is so not true. It's about stopping this behavior.
MARTIN: Over the years, has this incident stayed with you? I mean, how do - what role do you think it plays in your life?
KIRGO: Well, I think that it's never gone away. I mean, it's just like - it was this incident. At the time, I had a strong reaction to it, obviously, but I was able to brush it off because I continued to work.
But the thing is is that sometimes you think it's easier to let things go, and then, one day, it just isn't anymore. And when the whole Harvey Weinstein story broke, it just pushed all the buttons, and I just said, this is the time - finally. You know, there is now a support system. In the Writers Guild of America, they formed a sexual harassment task force within the last year. And if I had had any kind of support back then, I hope I would have been able to take advantage of it. But I just didn't know what to do. I didn't even think there was anything I could do.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, what do you think should happen now?
KIRGO: Well, I'm hoping that it's just not easy anymore. This world is such a rarified world. But I know this happens everywhere. But I think that as much as we can keep this at the center of things - you know, I'm sitting here going, are we in the middle of this? Are we at the beginning of this story? I'm not sure where we are. But, as uncomfortable as it is, I think we need to keep it out there so that if people even think about doing this kind of thing and thinking it's OK, they'll have a second thought about it.
MARTIN: That's Dinah Kirgo. She's an Emmy Award-winning writer, and we spoke to her in Los Angeles.
Dinah Kirgo, thanks so much for talking with us.
KIRGO: Thank you, Michel.
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