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A panel for Chuck Lorre’s new Netflix comedy — The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas — was briefly derailed Sunday when a critic asked the producer behind the CBS hits The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon to address sexual misconduct allegations against CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, with whom he has had a decades-long working relationship.
Lorre, during his time onstage at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour — and afterward in a post-panel scrum with select reporters — avoided addressing the allegations against Moonves.
“What’s going on with CBS, let’s talk later. I don’t think this is the venue to discuss what is going on there,” he said. “I do think it’s important to have a safe work environment. I’ve been in some unsafe environments in television and you can read about them [during his time on the original Roseanne]. You can’t do good work in an unsafe environment, and it had to be made safe for everyone. Why would anyone want to go to work in an environment that’s not nurturing? You certainly can’t do comedy if you’re frightened, and you certainly can’t do good work if the environment doesn’t support you and look after your best interests. That should go without saying. I can’t believe we actually have to have that conversation — it should go without saying. It’s common courtesy and decency to take care of each other.”
Lorre is one of CBS’ most valued producers. The showrunner, who is under an overall deal with Warner Bros. Television through June 2020, has delivered CBS hits in The Big Bang Theory and spinoff Young Sheldon, Mom, Two and a Half Men and Mike and Molly. The former three will return in the fall when they will take up three-quarters of CBS’ Thursday lineup. Big Bang Theory finished the 2017-18 broadcast season as TV’s No. 2 comedy, behind only ABC’s since-canceled Roseanne reboot.
In the scrum afterward, Lorre also declined to weigh in on Moonves.
“We’re here to talk about The Kominsky Method,” Lorre told The Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t have anything to add to that story.”
On Friday, Moonves was accused of misconduct by six women, including Illeana Douglas, Janet Jones, Christine Peters and Dinah Kirgo, in Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker exposé. CBS shares closed down 6 percent Friday as Wall Street prepared for the Farrow story to publish.
In a statement given to The New Yorker, Moonves said: “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. 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 have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
Representatives for CBS say the media conglomerate will investigate claims against Moonves. “All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” the network said Friday in a statement. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”
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