Les Moonves has resigned from the chairmanship of CBS, effective immediately, in the wake of new charges of sexual misconduct. According to a CBS statement released on Sept 9, the company and Moonves were also to contribute $20 million to charities supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace, although SEC filings showed that the entire sum was to come from CBS.
Moonves, who grew up in Valley Stream and graduated from Central High School in 1967, will stay on in an advisory capacity “in order to provide for a smooth transition of his duties,” according to the release. The company did not specify the exact terms of Moonves’ compensation going forward, but the company will provide him with office services and security for two years.
CBS began an internal investigation into Moonves alleged sexual misconduct after at least a dozen women accused him in two New Yorker articles by Ronan Farrow. CBS will hold $120 million in a grantor trust, pending the outcome of its investigation, which is being conducted by two outside law firms and seeks to determine if charges against Moonves are credible enough to warrant termination for cause.
The first of the New Yorker articles appeared in July containing allegations from six women that Moonves had forced them to perform sex acts and had jeopardized the careers of those who refused his advances. After the articles appeared, Moonves began negotiating his possible departure from CBS. The second article appeared on Sunday, hours before Moonves stepped down.
Moonves has consistently supported the #MeToo movement and has spoken out against sexual violence in the workplace. He denied the charges being made, saying in a statement that “ untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am … I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization.”
CBS also added six new directors in the wake of Moonves’ resignation, including three women, according to Sunday’s statement. CBS has been embroiled in a dispute with its parent company, National Entertainments, and its controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, about a proposed merger of CBS with Viacom, another National Entertainments subsidiary. The settlement delays any merger for at least two years.
Julie Chen, Moonves wife, took a leave of absence from her CBS show “The Talk,” following her husband’s departure. I am taking a few days off for ‘The Talk’ to be with my family,” Chen said in a statement. “I will be back soon.”
Moonves moved with his family to Valley Stream as an infant in 1950. He joined CBS in 1995 as president of the network’s entertainment division after serving in executive positions at 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures. He was president of CBS Television from 1998 to 2003, when he was tapped to take the helm as chairman and chief executive officer. Some of the network’s successes during his tenure include “The Big Bang Theory,” “60 Minutes” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The network moved from last place to first during his chairmanship. He was also responsible for canceling the long-running Star Trek franchise.