Entertainment industry leaders began Friday night exposing the serious allegations of CBS boss Leslie Moonves in the New Yorker.
The magazine released a story on Friday by reporter Ronan Farrow in which the allegations of six women reported against Moonves were sexual misconduct. The alleged incidents extended over several decades, with the earliest of them reported to have appeared in Fox's early days as a television expert in the early days of Moonves. The revelations come when Moonves is in legal dispute with majority shareholder Shari Redstone over a proposed merger with Viacom.
The future of Moonves is the subject of speculation across the industry.
There's just no way he'll survive that, "said a senior executive in a rival network Variety added the claims in Farrow's story," It just sounds so true.
A CBS executive described the stance within the company as the news of the allegations broke out as "optimistic", linking Farrow's story to the flood of misconduct allegations that have been disgracing the entertainment industry since the publication of past years of sexual assault "It's a tough day," the insider said, "this is simply a culture throughout the industry that has been manifesting in a certain way for a long time, and now things are changing. It is a tectonic shift.
How Moonve's allegations are affecting Redstone's attempts to reform Viacom and CBS, which were previously a company until CBS was spun off as a separate entity more than a decade ago, remains to be seen. Moonves' resistance to the business is partly driven by Redstone's preference to give Viacom CEO Bob Bakish a leadership role in the combined company.
"The big question is whether Shari in the case of a boat quickly merger and then put Bob in as CEO?" An exec at a competitive network told Variety .
Among the claims in New York's story is an indictment by actress and writer Illeana Douglas, who's a meeting with Moonves, in which he held her down on a couch and kissed her without her approval. The story also describes a culture at CBS that allows sexual misconduct, especially in the CBS News Division.
Moonves responded to the allegations in a statement Friday, "" During my time at CBS, we have a culture of promoting respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success in getting women to senior leadership positions in our business. I recognize that decades ago there were times when I could make some women uncomfortable by making progress. These were mistakes and I deeply regret them. But I have always understood and respected – and kept to the principle – that "no" means "no", and I have never abused my position to harm or hinder another's career. This is a time when we are all properly focused on how we can contribute to improving our society, and we at CBS are determined to be part of the solution.
Julie Chen, host of "The Talk" and "Big Brother" CBS, and married to Moonves since 2004, also responded to the New York story on Friday. "I've known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late nineties and I've been married to him for almost 14 years, "Chen wrote in a statement posted on Twitter." Leslie is a good man and a loving father, a devoted husband and an inspiring business leader. He was always a friendly, decent and moral person. I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement. "