AceShowbiz - CBS CEO Leslie Moonves is the latest man of power in Hollywood who has been accused of sexual misconduct. The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow conducted the investigation and has exposed the allegations in an upcoming issue of the magazine which has been made available online.
In the report, Moonves is accused of sexual harassment by six women "who had professional dealings with him...between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts." One of them was actress and writer Illeana Douglas, who claimed that the 68-year-old forcibly kissed her during a business meeting. "What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating," she told the magazine.
Writer Janet Jones, who said that she had to shove Moonves off her after he "threw himself on top" of her and began kissing her when they met to talk about a screenplay, said, "He has gotten away with it for decades. And it's just not O.K."
Two other women, including producer Christine Peters, claimed Moonves forcibly touched or kissed them during business meetings. Peters remembered Moonves "put a hand up my skirt" during a meeting to discuss female audiences.
The New Yorker also cited "a prominent actress who played a police officer on a long-running CBS program" as an alleged victim of Moonves. The actress said that her series deal with the network was terminated, years after she turned down his advance. When she called to express shock, he requested a lunch meeting in his private dining room at the office. Over the meal, he once again expressed his attraction for the actress.
When she got up to leave and give the executive a peck on the cheek, Moonves allegedly grabbed her and forcibly kissed her. "He shoved his tongue down my throat. I mean shoved," the actress recalled. "He had approached me to go to bed with him twice, but he did it politely. But this time he just stuck his tongue down my throat."
Two other women claimed their career opportunities evaporated after rejecting Moonves' unwanted advances. They are Emmy-winning writer Dinah Kirgo and a former child star whom The New Yorker identifies only by her first name, Kimberly.
Farrow also interviewed thirty current and former employees of CBS who acknowledged that "such behavior extended from Moonves to important parts of the corporation, including CBS News and '60 Minutes'." One veteran producer said, "It's top down, this culture of older men who have all this power and you are nothing. The company is shielding lots of bad behavior."
Through CBS, Moonves has denied all of those accusations, saying he either had no recollection of the encounters or nothing offensive happened during those meetings. CBS' independent directors said in a statement before the article was released, "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."
Moonves himself has released 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," he said.
He added, "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."
The network later released another statement after the article was published, "CBS is very mindful of all workplace issues and takes each report of misconduct very seriously. We do not believe, however, that the picture of our Company created in The New Yorker represents a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect. We are seeing vigorous discourse in our country about equality, inclusion and safety in the workplace, and CBS is committed to being part of the solution to those important issues."
Meanwhile, Moonves' wife and "Big Brother" host Julie Chen reacted to the allegations with a statement posted on Twitter. "I fully support my husband," she wrote. "I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late '90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years. Leslie is a good man and a 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."
Having worked for Mr. Moonves I respect his statement which is straightforward & honest - which is how he leads. @JulieChen your description of Leslie perfectly captures who he is. I love the way he lights up when you enter a room, and you are voicing your support. Stay strong. https://t.co/tWtl7Xrfcl— Brad Bessey (@BradBessey) July 27, 2018
Former "The Talk" and "Entertainment Tonight" executive producer Brad Bessey also supported Moonves. "Having worked for Mr. Moonves I respect his statement which is straightforward & honest - which is how he leads. @JulieChen your description of Leslie perfectly captures who he is. I love the way he lights up when you enter a room, and you are voicing your support. Stay strong," he tweeted.