After a month-long investigation, CBS has fired CEO Leslie Moonves for cause, meaning he will not receive his $120 million severance package. In July, it was reported that Moonves had been accused of sexual harassment by six different women, triggering an investigation by CBS. A further round of allegations forced Moonves to step down as CEO, a position he held since 2003.
In his capacity as CEO and chairman at CBS, Moonves had a hand in many of the network’s biggest hits, including 60 Minutes and The Big Bang Theory. But this summer Moonves became a target of the #MeToo movement after revelations of sexual harassment against multiple women, including actresses Illeana Douglas and Janet Jones. Later, it was revealed that Moonves was also involved in paying a settlement to actress Eliza Dushku after she made accusations of sexual misconduct while working on the CBS series Bull.
As reported by THR, CBS has concluded its investigation of Moonves after this year’s allegations and determined they have grounds to terminate him for cause. The network cited Moonves’ “willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation” as factors in making their determination. Moonves’ attorneys argued that CBS’s findings were “foreordained and without merit” and accused the network of trying to damage their client’s reputation.
As many as 300 people were reportedly interviewed by CBS as part of its investigation into Moonves. In addition to the accusations leveled against the former executive by Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker piece in July, the New York Times in November revealed further accusations brought by actress Bobbie Phillips, who alleged that Moonves engaged in sexual misconduct while an executive at Warner TV back in the 1990s. Phillips and her agent further alleged that years after the incident, Moonves attempted to buy Phillips’ silence by promising her acting work.
Prior to his downfall, Moonves was one of the biggest and most powerful executives in the entertainment industry, but now like Harvey Weinstein he has become just another disgraced Hollywood power-player whose legacy is forever tarnished and whose career is likely over. Though the pace of the movement appears to have slowed in recent months, allowing some like Louis C.K. to attempt public comebacks, #MeToo continues to keep the pressure on as the once-hidden activities of the rich and powerful in Hollywood increasingly come to light thanks to the efforts of courageous survivors and the journalists who pursue their stories.