Alyssa Milano on Les Moonves' Return to Work: "We Can't Expect That Not to Happen"

"We can't put all these men on an island and say, 'Eh, they'll figure it out. Let me eat themselves,'" she said Sunday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "They're going to get jobs again."
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Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano has some thoughts about Les Moonves going back to work just weeks after getting fired by CBS over sexual misconduct claims.

"That's going to happen. We can't expect that not to happen," she said Sunday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "I mean, we can't put all these men on an island and say, 'Eh, they'll figure it out. Let me eat themselves.' They're going to get jobs again, so I think it's our responsibility to figure out what that re-entry into the workplace looks like and how women will feel comfortable within that space."

The actress and activist believes that precautions must be in place for those who might work with or for men who have lost their jobs as a result of harassment. "What we can do to set down policy that ensures that it's not going to happen [again], that women and men are going to feel safe working around Les Moonves," added Milano, who was sitting on a panel for Lifetime with other actresses and female directors including Ginnifer Goodwin, Kim Raver, Claire Scanlon, Angela Fairley, Tiffany Hines, Rhonda Baraka, Janice Cooke and Erika Christensen.

"I think a statement has been made that everyone is aware of with the #MeToo movement where we are saying, 'We're not going to take this anymore.' It's holding people accountable for their abuses of power — but I also think that's contractual as well," she explained. "I think if you are funding Les Moonves or planning on working with him, you have to have an iron-clad contract that enables full due process for both scenarios, a human resources department that's maybe external, not internal. There's a lot of things that can go into place."

In addition, Milano now feels more comfortable reporting to unions, which she believes is a crucial change. "I never felt like I could report to the unions," she acknowledged, "so I think that's important as well." Goodwin, who directed Lifetime's I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story, added that having more women in the key decision-making roles on productions has also helped many women feel safer. "We’re going to be harassed a lot less when there are a lot more women around," she said.

Throughout the panel, several of the women recalled times that they had to endure sexism in their work. Monika Mitchell, director of the Lifetime movie Jane Green's To Have and to Hold, remembered a time in 1999 when she produced and director a short film that went to festivals. When her name came up in the credits at one screening, she overheard an executive say, "Monika's a funny name for a guy," which signaled just how few female directors there were at the time.

Milano, for her part, proclaimed onstage that she "won't allow anyone to go back" to the way things were before the #MeToo movement shifted the culture for the better. "I always joke that whenever there's an animal on the set, the Humane Society is everywhere — and yet, women are made to get totally naked with not one protection mechanism anywhere," she said, adding, "I think all of that is definitely going to change."