- The CBS board will reportedly meet Monday to discuss the fate of the company’s CEO and chairman, Les Moonves.
- Six women accused Moonves of sexual misconduct in a New Yorker report on Friday.
- Some female CBS executives and personalities have spoken in support of Moonves, but Hollywood has been largely silent about the story.
CBS’ board of directors will meet Monday to discuss the fate of the company’s CEO and chairman, Les Moonves, according to The New York Times, after six women accused him of sexual misconduct in an extensive New Yorker report published Friday.
The women told the investigative journalist Ronan Farrow – who was also behind the New Yorker report that helped uncover decades of sexual-misconduct allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – that Moonves had forcibly touched or kissed them and, in same cases, negatively influenced their career when they rejected his advances. Moonves denied the allegations.
One of the accusers, the actress and writer Illeana Douglas, accused Moonves of pinning her down and kissing her during a business meeting in 1997. She said that Moonves called her to scold her after she struggled during rehearsals the following week and that she was later fired from the TV show she was working on. In a statement, CBS told The New Yorker that Moonves acknowledged trying to kiss Douglas but “denies any characterization of ‘sexual assault,’ intimidation, or retaliatory action.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, over the weekend members of the CBS board discussed Moonves’ future at the company and whether he should step away during its investigation into the allegations, which will be conducted by a law firm selected by a special committee. The Journal said board members differed in opinion on whether Moonves should step aside.
The board will finalise details of the investigation during its meeting on Monday, according to The Times, including how it should proceed and the scope of the investigation. CNN reported that the meeting would take place at 9 a.m. PT and that the investigation “could take weeks” as it looks into the overall culture at CBS, including allegations against Moonves and the “60 Minutes” executive producer, Jeff Fager.
Many Hollywood heavyweights who have previously been outspoken in support of the #MeToo movement have not commented on the Moonves story. This is markedly different from other #MeToo allegations that have come to light, which have often garnered immediate and vocal support from Hollywood stars.
Since the allegations broke, some female CBS executives and personalities have come to Moonves’ defence, including his wife, Julie Chen, who tweeted Friday: “Leslie is a good man and loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader. He has always been a kind, decent, and moral human being. I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement.”
— Julie Chen Moonves (@JCMoonves) July 27, 2018
The programming executive Angelica McDaniel tweeted her support on Friday, saying her relationship with Moonves had been “one of respect and support, in an environment where talent and hard work rise to the top.” She continued: “Statements about a culture of repression and subjugation of women have never been brought to bear on myself or my department in my eight years as a top executive at CBS.”
CBS’ advertising revenue chief, Jo Ann Ross, also tweeted: “I fully support Leslie Moonves and his statement. My experience with him on a professional and personal basis has never had any hint of the behaviour this story refers to.”
— Jo Ann Ross (@JoAnnRossCBS) July 28, 2018
Sharon Osbourne, who cohosts the CBS talk show “The Talk,” tweeted: “I hope people don’t rush to judgement and let @CBS conduct their investigation. Sending my love and support to my friends @JulieChen and Leslie Moonves.”
Lynda Carter, who starred as the title character on the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show that aired on CBS, tweeted: “Les Moonves is a close friend. I’ve known him for 40 years. He is a kind, decent, and honorable man. I believe him and I believe in him.”
Les Moonves is a close friend. I’ve known him for 40 years. He is a kind, decent and honorable man. I believe him and I believe in him.
— Lynda Carter (@RealLyndaCarter) July 28, 2018
But others have been more measured in their comments.
Chuck Lorre, the creator of CBS sitcoms such as “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” and “Two and a Half Men,” declined to comment directly on the allegations against Moonves during a Television Critics Association panel on Sunday, instead commenting on the importance of a safe work environment.
“I’ve been in some unsafe environments in television, and you can read about them,” he said. “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.”
“As is often the case, this kind of story generates as many questions as answers,” she said. “I do not believe that it is my place to question the accounts put forth by the women, but I do find myself asking that if we are examining the industry as it existed decades before through the lens of 2018, should we also discuss a path to learning, reconciliation, and forgiveness?”
Moonves generally denied the allegations and said in a statement to The New Yorker:
“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 recognise 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.”
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