Highlights (and Lowlights) of Gloria Allred’s Career We Desperately Want to See on TV


Given Gloria Allred’s knack for self-promotion, it’s surprising the attorney/crusader/noted power suit wearer hasn’t been up for a scripted TV show before (though let us never forget We the People with Gloria Allred, in which performers reenacted real-life court cases with Allred presiding as “judge”). Now that CBS has announced a script deal for a legal drama executive produced by Allred and Newsroom, Girls, and 90210 alum Deborah Schoeneman, however, we can’t stop thinking about what an Allred legal procedural will look like, besides Scandal with outfits slightly friendlier to red wine. To wit: the highlights of Allred’s four-decade public career we desperately want broadcast in our living rooms.

Her Origin Story

CBS’s announcement makes it sound like the series will follow Allred at the height of her powers, but hopefully a flashback episode (or two, or three) will fill viewers in on her background. Before Allred became an attorney in her 30s, she married, gave birth to daughter Lisa Bloom, and divorced while still in college at Penn; several years later, she was raped at gunpoint while on vacation in Mexico. The illegal abortion from the ensuing pregnancy resulted in an infection that nearly killed her. It’s a personal history that provides perfect motivation for the protagonist of a primetime series; it also happens to be true.

That Time She Took the Whole “End the Boys’ Club” Thing Literally

Allred’s public image has always been a dichotomy between her sincerely feminist goals and what some view as her excessively attention-courting means of achieving them. It’s a reputation she cemented early with antics like her crusade against the previously all-male Friars Club in the late 1980s. At one point, she brought the press with her as she broke into the Beverly Hills outpost’s steam room (to which she’d been denied access, despite being the club’s first female member), wielding a tape measure and singing Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” re: male club members’ genitalia. It’s unclear whether a bunch of naked middle-aged men is a network-appropriate visual, but we sure hope so.

Her Two-Decade Legal Battle with the Catholic Church

Allred’s currently in the spotlight for her representation of more than a dozen of Bill Cosby’s alleged victims, but she’s been an advocate for sexual assault survivors throughout her career. Long before sexual abuse was acknowledged as a systemic issue within the Catholic Church, Allred sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on behalf of Rita Milla in 1984. Milla would eventually be awarded $500,000 in 2007 as part of a $660 million settlement between the Church and hundreds of abuse survivors — 25 years after her daughter was born following her assault by Father Valentine Tugade.

Getting Called a “Slick Butch Lawyeress” (and Winning $20,000 for It)

In 1981, then-California State Senator John Schmitz, a Republican from Newport Beach, held a series of hearings on abortion restrictions. (Shockingly, he was in favor.) Allred, awesomely, presented Schmitz with a chastity belt during said hearings. Schmitz, less awesomely, issued a press release titled “Attack of the Bulldykes” afterward, describing the audience as “hard, Jewish, and (arguably) female” and Allred herself as a “slick, butch lawyeress.” Allred filed a $10 million libel suit, of which she was awarded $20,000, plus the satisfaction of Schmitz publicly declaring she is “not a slick butch lawyeress.”

The O.J. Simpson Trial

In which she played a bit part, representing the family of Nicole Brown Simpson. Worth including, if only for the Ryan Murphy crossover potential. Though there’s no shortage of celebrity adversaries from over the years: Rob Lowe, Roman Polanski, Rush Limbaugh, Aaron Spelling, Michael Jackson, and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman have all been on the wrong side of Allred’s public callouts.

Representing… Tiger Woods’ Kindergarten Teacher?

Part of what makes Allred such compelling source material is her combination of championing the disenfranchised with championing the… not particularly disenfranchised. A three-dimensional portrait of her career would thus have to include the less illustrious side of her client roster, including two of Tiger Woods’ ex-girlfriends and even his kindergarten teacher, requesting a “retraction and an apology” for a passage in his memoir in which he claimed she’d failed to protect him from older students who bullied him with racist slurs. How, exactly, is this on par with some of the more serious wrongs Allred’s sought to right? Good question for a series to answer!