Les Moonves out at CBS, National Amusements lawsuit settled

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CBS said Sunday that it takes the allegations very seriously, and that its board of directors is investigating. Moonves acknowledged relations with three of the complainants but claimed it was consensual.

According to a statement from the company, Moonves and CBS will also "donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace".

The Financial Times said imminent boardroom changes meant Mr Moonves would lose support and he was resigning because this would entitle him to a hefty severance package, including stock options.

Co-host Julie Chen, Moonves' wife, was notably absent from the live show on Monday, saying in a statement that she was "taking a few days off" to be with family. Jessica Pallingston, a writer who is among the six women to raise allegations in the latest article, said such an exit package for Moonves was "completely disgusting".

Moonves had opposed efforts by NAI, which is owned by Shari Redstone and her father Sumner Redstone, to merge CBS with Viacom Inc (VIAB.O), another company they own. "The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company".

CBS said in a regulatory filing Monday that it would contribute $120 million to a trust that could pay a massive severance - or none at all - to its departing CEO, Leslie Moonves, depending on the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Many progressives were angered two years ago when, as some Americans feared the potential election of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, Moonves openly celebrated the positive effect Trump's campaign was having on his $2.5 billion network.

Moonves' branch of the Redstone empire, with CBS as its bedrock and Showtime as its prestige jewel, was often seen as more stable compared to Viacom, which relied on fickle basic-cable fees and advertising dollars along with the vagaries of the theatrical box office.

Moonves joined the former CBS Corporation in 1995 as president of CBS Entertainment.

Under Moonves's contract, the 68-year-old could be owed as much as US$180 million in severance - as well as a production deal - but the CEO had been facing challenges on a number of fronts. According to her agent, Moonves had no intention of hiring a woman for that spot; even though he may have interviewed one or two for the job, it was all for show. Of all the "Me Too" cases in the past year, this one stood out for several reasons, including the fact that Moonves is a powerful CEO of a major publicly-traded corporation.

She said they will continue to work with CBS in the interim.

Kathy Griffin has come back with a vengeance - literally - since her bloody-Trump-head picture and its aftermath nearly cost her her career in 2017. Golden-Gottlieb said Moonves forced her to perform oral sex on him, before destroying her career.

However, amid these recent allegations, two sources cited by the Los Angeles Times have claimed that Moonves is reportedly expected to resign from his position at the network, which he's held for 15 years, either late Sunday evening or early Monday morning, September 10.

"As I understand the allegations, and he denies them, but as I understand them, they allege that he used his corporate authority to badger and in some cases to force women to touch his body and in a way that they didn't want to", he said.

Before commenting on Monday, O'Donnell said she conferred with fellow anchor Gayle King who apparently lamented about how CBS was "still the story" 10 months after their colleague Charlie Rose was sacked for his alleged behavior toward women.

But a huge payout to Moonves could stir shareholder ire in light of the disturbing harassment and assault allegations that have piled up against him.