On Nov. 2, 2022, New York Lawyer Normal Letitia James introduced that she’d secured a $30.5 million settlement from CBS and its former president and CEO Leslie Moonves for deceptive the corporate’s traders about his misconduct, concealing sexual assault allegations in opposition to him and associated insider buying and selling by one other high CBS govt. Her workplace additionally launched a 37-page report detailing how members of Moonves’ C-suite and others unsuccessfully sought to neutralize the disaster earlier than it knocked off the highest boss, tanked the share value and gummed up a then-nascent merger with Viacom. It’s a damning case research in company complicity, management and cover-up.
The report facilities on a yearlong sequence of occasions starting in late 2017. Then-81-year-old Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, who died in July 2022, filed a confidential police report with the Los Angeles Police Division. Golden-Gottlieb alleged that Moonves had attacked her on a number of events within the Eighties, after they have been each executives at Lorimar-Telepictures. The statute of limitations had long term out on any attainable prison or civil prices associated to her accusations, but she’d been spurred by the scores of youthful girls who’d gone public within the press in opposition to Harvey Weinstein and different outstanding males in what had lately change into generally known as the #MeToo motion.
By September 2018, after Moonves had been publicly accused of misconduct by a gaggle of ladies together with Golden-Gottlieb, he resigned. (Whereas not essentially the most well-known man to be felled by #MeToo claims, he was arguably essentially the most highly effective.) A number of senior executives from his regime left in his wake. However a number of different figures concerned within the concealment efforts outlined in James’ transient, together with a deputy who obtained the police report from an LAPD captain, in addition to a safety head who ran a counterintelligence probe focusing on Golden-Gottlieb’s household, have remained on the firm.
For the reason that settlement and accompanying legal professional common report, media consideration has centered on the compromised LAPD captain, who’s now the topic of a departmental misconduct probe. In the meantime, the company brass’ makes an attempt to undermine Golden-Gottlieb have been largely neglected.
CBS hasn’t publicly addressed its dealing with of the matter, which James has referred to California’s Workplace of the Lawyer Normal. (The latter tells THR that it might probably’t touch upon a possible or ongoing investigation.) CBS’ mother or father, Paramount World, supplied a short assertion, noting that the settlement obtained by the New York legal professional common was not an admission of legal responsibility or wrongdoing and that the Golden-Gottlieb episode “doesn’t relate in any method to the present firm.”
Paramount declined to reply THR‘s detailed questions concerning the actions of present and former CBS executives and whether or not they violated firm insurance policies. Direct inquiries to these concerned have been met with silence.
“When folks lack confidence within the processes for ending sexual harassment, the issue continues,” says Anita Hill, a professor of regulation and girls’s research at Brandeis College, who famously levied sexual misconduct claims in opposition to Clarence Thomas throughout his 1991 Supreme Courtroom affirmation hearings. She’s now chair of the Hollywood Fee, which collects details about the business’s labor pressure towards ending office abuses. (Moonves himself was a commissioner with the group till the misconduct allegations grew to become public.) “The AG report reveals a lot of faults suggesting a transparent abuse of energy within the method that CBS took to claims in opposition to Les Moonves,” provides Hill. “What it comes all the way down to is whether or not these companies who’ve the authority and assets to demand reforms and maintain corporations accountable for mishandling claims are doing so.”
By the account of Golden-Gottlieb’s personal unfinished memoir, supplied to THR by her son, Jim Gottlieb, her pioneering profession as a TV govt was solid on the forefront of an earlier period of feminism, backlash and realpolitik.
Golden-Gottlieb, a local of suburban Boston and mom of two, entered the enterprise after a community govt noticed her seem on an L.A. morning present anchored by Regis Philbin, explaining California poll measures on behalf of the board of the League of Ladies Voters. Quickly, she was producing public-affairs programming for L.A. broadcast station KTTV, together with a proto-The View known as Advert Lib, that includes a Hispanic co-host who at one level nursed her child on digicam — “modestly lined,” based on Golden-Gottlieb’s manuscript, “however in all probability a primary.”
Norman Lear, whom she’d befriended, helped land her an govt position at NBC. The late Brandon Tartikoff, then the wunderkind president of the community, was her boss. Golden-Gottlieb recalled of his relationship along with his feminine subordinates that he “made out with most, slept with many.”
Golden-Gottlieb ultimately switched sides to improvement, specializing in comedy, first for Disney, then MGM and at last Lorimar-Telepictures. By this time, she was talking on the identical girls’s occasions as Concern of Flying writer Erica Jong and located herself on the sorts of intimate A-list festivities — like Woody Allen’s 1979 New Yr’s Eve get together, alongside David Geffen, Norman Mailer, Lauren Bacall and Mick Jagger — the place, she writes, “I grew to become totally conscious that I used to be the one one there I didn’t know.”
At Lorimar-Telepictures, she was operating comedy improvement when, in 1986, she alleges that Moonves, then head of flicks and miniseries, first assaulted her. Golden-Gottlieb informed the Los Angeles Instances in September 2018 that whereas driving them to what she’d presumed was a enterprise lunch, he grabbed her head and thrusted it towards his uncovered crotch: “He pushed his penis in my mouth and he got here in a short time. Then he mentioned, ‘Don’t you need me to do that to you?’ and I mentioned, ‘Take me again.’ ” Whereas she later shared the story with intimates, she didn’t report it to the corporate’s human assets division, terrified of retaliation.
Two years later, Moonves had been promoted to a extra senior position, and Golden-Gottlieb was invited to his workplace, the place she says he once more uncovered himself to her, and he or she in flip fled the room. The following day, he discovered her in her personal workplace, berated her about what she described as a minor workflow concern after which bodily attacked her. “He turned crimson, and he reached over and pulled me up and threw me in opposition to the wall,” she informed the Instances. “I imply actually onerous. I used to be on the ground, crying.”
From there, Golden-Gottlieb claimed that Moonves exacted additional revenge, shifting her into ever tinier workplaces in more and more remoted areas. After she left Lorimar-Telepictures, she was unable to safe additional govt work in Hollywood. (Golden-Gottlieb then turned to substitute instructing in L.A.-area public faculties.) “He completely ruined my profession,” she informed The New Yorker of Moonves.
Later, in a deposition considered by New York Instances journalists James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams, authors of the brand new e-book Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Household Legacy, Moonves disputed Golden-Gottlieb’s account and denied he’d ever retaliated. “We have been mates,” he defined. “She was flirty. I knew her in earlier jobs. One might have claimed she was chasing me greater than I used to be chasing her. Possibly. It was 32 years in the past.”
Jim Gottlieb says the legal professional common’s workplace requested an interview along with his mom throughout its inquiry. Nevertheless, she was unable to take part as a result of she was affected by dementia earlier than her loss of life.
Ian Metrose, CBS’ longtime senior vp expertise relations and particular occasions, was centrally concerned within the firm’s response as soon as it realized of Golden-Gottlieb’s police grievance, based on the current legal professional common report. Inside hours of the doc’s submitting at LAPD’s Hollywood Division on Nov. 10, 2017, he was tipped off by a division captain, Cory Palka. Metrose had employed and paid him to be Moonves’ safety aide from 2008 to 2014 on the Grammy Awards, which have aired on the community for half a century. (The LAPD is now investigating the officer, who’s since retired.)
For the following eight months, Metrose allegedly schemed with high executives, and acted because the middleman with Palka, to beat back a disaster they understood may simply be their CEO’s undoing if the general public have been to study it. Whilst Metrose was working behind the scenes to quash the accusations in opposition to his boss, Moonves loudly proclaimed his solidarity with the #MeToo motion that was toppling different highly effective males in media and leisure. Charlie Rose was fired from anchoring CBS This Morning on Nov. 21, 2017, the day after eight girls informed The Washington Publish he’d sexually harassed them; Moonves later mentioned, “We didn’t spend 10 seconds” on the choice. After Matt Lauer’s dismissal from NBC Information on the finish of November following allegations of sexual misconduct, Moonves introduced at Selection’s Innovate Summit that “it’s essential that an organization’s tradition is not going to permit for this.”
Lengthy earlier than his fall, Moonves was identified for his imperious management. He cultivated an insular community of trusted lieutenants, their allegiance bolstered by means of bonusing. Intrigue was a relentless, as he and his deputies sought to outlive and advance by means of the sensational company and familial succession turmoil of billionaire proprietor Sumner Redstone’s closing years and daughter Shari Redstone’s consolidation of energy. “You might have this excessive concern and excessive loyalty,” explains an business govt who usually interacted with this group. “It was a form of Mafia tradition.” (In textual content messages revealed throughout an unrelated 2018 civil litigation in opposition to CBS’ then-parent firm, the Shari Redstone-led Nationwide Amusements, Moonves wrote to his then-COO Joseph Ianniello, “Mattresses tomorrow a.m.,” a reference to Sonny Corleone’s description of going to warfare with a clan in The Godfather.)
Some within the media enterprise who’ve been in Metrose’s sneakers suppose his actions have been past the pale. Others are extra sympathetic, emphasizing the fog-of-war of responding to crises in actual time. One such exec with troubleshooting experience notes that they’d doubtless have adopted an identical plan of action and accepted the police report: “An excellent comms particular person is an intel gatherer, at first.”
There’s little within the legal professional common report to point that Metrose first sought the enter of CBS’ counsel. If certainly he didn’t, explains one other seasoned in-house fixer, that might’ve been a vital mistake. “You don’t attempt to be a hero,” this particular person says. “The chief govt’s pursuits are usually not the one ones you’re there to guard.” Metrose didn’t converse to THR for this text.
CBS’ longtime chief communications officer Gil Schwartz, who was Metrose’s boss, was additionally a spotlight of the AG report. Identified in and past the media sector for his decades-spanning writing profession below the nom de plume Stanley Bing, Schwartz penned a number of best-selling books about company technique, together with What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness and Solar Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Associates and Wage the Actual Artwork of Struggle. In accordance with the report, Schwartz, who died in Might 2020, informed Metrose to request a replica of the police report from the LAPD captain. Schwartz quickly took the lead in getting ready for the fallout of Golden-Gottlieb’s declare — if it have been to change into public — by alerting members of his communications group to face by, drafting a number of variations of a press assertion and consulting with an outdoor public relations agency. His successor as CBS PR head, Chris Ender, who labored for Schwartz on the time and was and nonetheless is Metrose’s superior, didn’t reply to inquiries.
Schwartz unloaded $8.8 million in CBS inventory within the weeks earlier than Ronan Farrow printed his New Yorker investigation into Moonves’ historical past of misconduct, together with with Golden-Gottlieb, that might outcome within the CEO’s departure. (CBS’ share value dropped 10.9 p.c from the day earlier than the story broke to the day after.) This insider buying and selling, a violation of New York’s investor safety legal guidelines, was an element within the $30.5 million settlement, nearly all of which the AG’s workplace says might be returned to CBS shareholders.
In accordance with the AG report, two different high CBS executives used the unredacted police report to analyze Golden-Gottlieb’s “private circumstances and that of her household, together with her youngsters, her brother and her former partner.” They have been an unnamed chief safety officer, whom a number of skilled directories establish as seasoned former NYPD detective Thomas Cruthers, in addition to chief administrative officer Anthony Ambrosio, who beforehand had been listed as among the many highest-paid personnel bosses within the U.S., based on an HR commerce outlet. At one level, Ambrosio despatched Cruthers a textual content message, circulating a information search of Golden-Gottlieb’s son, Jim, which included his tackle. “Have to analysis if neighborhood offers clues to want for $,” he wrote.
Ambrosio left CBS in October 2018, two months after Moonves stepped down. Per an SEC submitting, he maintained a consulting contract with the corporate that, for 2019, was outlined at $100,000 a month with a possible $1.2 million in bonuses. Quickly after, as CBS and Viacom mixed, then modified its title to Paramount World, Cruthers ascended to his present put up because the conglomerate’s chief world safety officer. Neither Ambrosio nor Cruthers responded to THR‘s inquiries.
The AG report didn’t specify whether or not CBS’ high in-house lawyer was concerned within the episode — or stored out of the loop. Lawrence Tu, the chief authorized officer on the time per an SEC submitting, who’d lengthy served in related capacities at corporations like Goldman Sachs, NBC and Dell Applied sciences, left in Might 2019. CBS coverage was for the chief authorized officer, on this case Tu, to pre-clear Schwartz’s buying and selling of company inventory. He didn’t make himself accessible for remark.
Shari Redstone — then the bulk shareholder of CBS and member of its board — realized in December 2017 that CBS was in jeopardy for an unspecified sexual misconduct concern. Different board members later organized for his or her mergers-and-acquisitions legal professional to steer an inner investigation into the claims in opposition to Moonves.
But the AG report revealed that the probe consisted of a single 20-minute name with Moonves and a request for his human assets file. Moreover, the legal professional “interviewed no different individuals, collected no further paperwork and reviewed none of Moonves’ digital communications. Even Moonves, in pleadings and through testimony, referred to the investigation with quotes, suggesting the investigation was not real.” Though Moonves did disclose that he was the topic of Golden-Gottlieb’s police grievance and that there was additionally one other lady from his previous who may come ahead with a sexual assault allegation, he acknowledged all such incidents have been consensual.
The legal professional didn’t search to independently confirm the claims and informed the board there was no additional want to look at its CEO. “If it’s as described, essentially the most beneficiant description you can give to that investigation could be ‘superficial,’ ” says Lawrence Hamermesh, govt director of the Institute for Regulation & Economics on the College of Pennsylvania’s Carey Regulation Faculty. Whereas the AG report doesn’t establish the M&A legal professional, The New York Instances reported in September 2018 that Michael J. Aiello, chair of the company regulation division at Weil Gotshal & Manges, was the lawyer concerned and that colleagues at his agency listened in on his name with Moonves. In accordance with Stewart and Abrams, the authors of Unscripted, Moonves’ adversary Shari Redstone was doubtful of Aiello’s work, asking a board member who’d been briefed on the probe: “Are you telling me a denial from Les is ample investigation?” Aiello and his agency didn’t reply to questions for this story.
Gonzalo Freixes, affiliate dean on the UCLA Anderson Faculty of Administration whose areas of experience embrace enterprise ethics, brings up the Entrance Web page Take a look at, a basic executives’ analytical device for figuring out a person or establishment’s plan of action in a tough scenario: How may it look if it have been later reported on within the media? “What will get folks in hassle, principally, is just not the dangerous conduct itself,” Freixes counsels. “It’s the cover-up.”
In January, at a press convention on the Los Angeles regulation workplace of Gloria Allred, who represented Golden-Gottlieb within the Moonves matter when she was alive, Golden-Gottlieb’s daughter, Cathy Weiss, mirrored on studying, after her mom’s loss of life final yr, concerning the efforts to discredit her. She famous she’d been proud when her mom informed her she was going to file the police report and in contrast the revelations from the AG’s report back to a gangster film. “I assumed, ‘I’m glad she wasn’t right here to see this,’ ” she mentioned.
Cathy noticed that her mom’s choice to finally go public to the media was consistent with her trailblazing life. “She was a robust lady,” she defined. “Even now, it’s so onerous to be a robust lady in Hollywood. She fought as onerous as she may, on so many alternative points. Besides when it got here to the actually private — after which she did.”
Katie Kilkenny contributed to this report.
Illustration Photograph Credit: Ambrosio: Michael Buckner/Selection/Penske Media by way of Getty Pictures. Schwartz, Metrose: Courtesy of CBS. Cruthers: Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan by way of Getty Pictures. Moonves: Antoine Antoniol/Getty Pictures.
This story first appeared within the Feb. 15 concern of Latest Hollywood News journal. Click on right here to subscribe.