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Leslie Moonves' Lingering CBS Perks Spark Backlash

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 9/20/2018 Paul Bond
Leslie Moonves smiling for the camera © Provided by The Hollywood Reporter

Leslie Moonves may have resigned as CEO of CBS Corp. on Sept. 9 following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, but the company is retaining him for up to two more years as an unpaid adviser, supplying him an office and paying for a security detail. Why?

While a departing CEO is often retained — usually with a hefty salary — to help transition the newcomer, the arrangement with Moonves is raising some eyebrows. "Les Moonves is a serial sexual predator," says Shaunna Thomas, executive director of the women's group UltraViolet. "For CBS to keep him on — even as an unpaid adviser — is wholly unacceptable. He is a danger to their employees and should have no relationship with the company going forward." (Moonves has denied the claims.)

CBS had no comment on the arrangement. But people close to the situation tell THR that the office the company is providing Moonves is likely in Los Angeles near his homes in Malibu and Beverly Hills (he also keeps a residence in New York) at property not owned by CBS, so there's no reason employees need to encounter their embattled former leader.

CBS laid out the plan in an SEC filing that doesn't mention how much it will spend on Moonves, but in 2017 it shelled out $640,552 for his security alone. It shouldn't cost that much going forward, though, since Moonves won't be traveling as often as a mere adviser — and won't be using the company plane. Plus, the filing stipulates only "security services at executive's home."

CBS has been investigating the allegations against Moonves, 68, who earned $69 million in 2017, since Aug. 1, and his departure could come with $120 million if third-party investigators determine there's no cause for him to be fired. Whatever the findings, CBS is obligated to maintain an office for Moonves for at least a year, and some are hoping for closure no later than that.

"As a shareholder, I don't like it," says Steven Birenberg, founder of Northlake Capital Management. "I would hope that once the final report from the lawyers is in, should it be damning against Moonves, that this particular provision would be reconsidered."

Related video: Leslie Moonves Accuser Says His Response Is a "Joke"

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