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Leslie Moonves

Moonves at the premiere of Whatever Works
Born December 23, 1948 (1948-12-23) (age 61)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation
Salary $67.6 million in 2007 (includes other compensation)[1]
Spouse(s) Julie Chen
Children Adam

Leslie Moonves (born December 23, 1948) is President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation.

Moonves served as co-president and co-chief operating officer of Viacom, Inc., the predecessor to CBS Corporation, from 2004 until the company split on December 31, 2005. Prior to that he had been in a series of executive positions for CBS since July 1995.[2]


Business career

Moonves had previous upper management experience early in his business career. He was in charge of first-run syndication and pay/cable programming at 20th Century Fox Television. Another position he held at 20th Century Fox Television was Vice President of movies and mini-series. Other previous positions he held include Vice President of development at Saul Ilson Productions (in association with Columbia Pictures Television) and a development executive for Catalina Productions.[2]

Moonves joined Lorimar Television in 1985 as executive in charge of its movies and mini-series, and in 1988, became head of creative affairs. From 1989 to 1993, he was President at Lorimar. Then in July 1993, he became President of Warner Bros. Television, when Warner Bros. and Lorimar Television combined operations. While Moonves was president of Warner Bros. Television, he green-lit the hit shows Friends and ER, among many others.[3]

He joined CBS in July 1995 as President of CBS Entertainment. From April 1998 until 2003, he was President and Chief Executive Officer at CBS Television, then was promoted to Chairman and CEO of CBS in 2003. He oversees all operations of the company, including the CBS Television Network, The CW (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment), CBS Television Stations, CBS Paramount Network Television, CBS Television Distribution Group, Showtime, CBS Radio, CBS Records, CBS Outdoor, Simon & Schuster, CBS Interactive, CBS Consumer Products, CBS Home Entertainment, CBS Outernet and CBS Films. During this time (2003), CBS became America's most watched television network, going from last to first.

Among the shows that have given CBS a new lease on life is the CSI franchise and Survivor. CBS had six of the ten most-watched primetime shows in the final quarter of 2005--CSI; Without a Trace; CSI: Miami; Survivor: Guatemala; NCIS; and Cold Case.[3]

In February 2005, Moonves was identified as the executive directly responsible for ordering the cancellation of UPN's Star Trek: Enterprise and the ending of the 18-year Star Trek television franchise.[4]

In January 2006, Moonves was instrumental in making the deal that brought together CBS-owned UPN with The WB to form the CW Network.

On February 28, 2006, Moonves led CBS to file a $500 million lawsuit against Howard Stern for allegedly breaching his contract by failing to disclose the details of his deal with Sirius Satellite Radio while still employed by Infinity Broadcasting. Stern vowed to fight the suit, and claimed on his radio program that Moonves, and CBS, were trying to "bully" him and his agent, Don Buchwald. Stern later appeared on CBS' own Late Show with David Letterman, wearing a shirt mocking Leslie and his wife. On June 7, 2006, Stern announced that the lawsuit had been settled. As part of the settlement, Sirius acquired the exclusive rights to all of the WXRK tapes (over two decades worth of shows) for $2 million.

Moonves fired Don Imus on April 12, 2007, eight days after Imus made comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Acting career

In his early career, Moonves was an actor. He landed a few television roles, playing tough guys on Cannon and The Six Million Dollar Man[5] before deciding on a career change.[3] He also worked as one of casting director Caro Jones' first office assistants early in her career.[6]

On April 7, 2003, Moonves portrayed himself in an episode of The Practice.

From early 2004, Moonves has made regular contributions to The Late Show with David Letterman. One of these appearances was provoked by David Letterman himself when he declared outrage that Jay Leno was featured prominently on the CBS website in an ad for CBS's telecast of the People's Choice Awards. On the Late Show, Letterman jokingly warned the "CBS stooge in the control room" to call his buddies "before things turn ugly." Leslie obliged. Later appearances have taken the same format, with Letterman discussing current events and the CBS network with the company's CEO.

Personal life

Moonves with his wife Julie Chen at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

Moonves was born in New York City and grew up in Valley Stream, New York. He attended Valley Stream Central High School and went to Bucknell University, graduating in 1971.[7] In his sophomore year he realized he hated the sciences, so he switched his major to Spanish and acted in a few plays.[3]

Moonves is the great-nephew of David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel.[8]

Moonves resides in the hills above Brentwood, California.

With his first wife of 26 years,Nancy Wiesenfeld Moonves (m. 17-Dec-1978, div. 2004) he has three children: Adam, Michael and Sara.[9]

In 2000, despite being married, Moonves began dating CBS's The Early Show reporter Julie Chen.[10] On December 10, 2004 Moonves got a court to grant an early divorce[11][12] Tired of waiting, Moonves' motion cited a "desire to return to the status of being single". Moonves foresaw a lengthy trial to settle the property and other issues. He argued that "terminating the marital status will aid in promoting settlement of this matter," and the judge gave his request the stamp of approval --leaving the divorce's alimony, child support and property division details to be determined later – so he could remarry. Just thirteen days later in Mexico (on Moonves' 56th birthday, December 23, 2004) he married television and news personality Julie Chen.[10] Chen is 22 years younger.

On April 21, 2009, on The Early Show, Julie announced that Les and she are expecting their first child, and that the expected due date is October 4, 2009. On September 24, 2009, Chen gave birth to a boy named Charlie.[13]


  1. ^ "List of highest-paid CEOs in 2007". Associated Press. 2008-06. Retrieved 2008-06-18. "The total pay figures are rounded, and are based on the AP's compensation formula, which adds up salary, perks, bonuses, above-market interest on pay set aside for later, and company estimates for the value of stock options and stock awards on the day they were granted last year."  
  2. ^ a b c "Biography from CBS Corporation website".  
  3. ^ a b c d Leslie Moonves's Role of a Lifetime Money via Retrieved April 10, 2006.
  4. ^ "UPN Cancels 'Star Trek: Enterprise'". February 2, 2005. Retrieved November 21, 2007.  
  5. ^ Leslie Moonves at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Barnes, Mike (2009-09-10). "Casting director Caro Jones dies". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-09-20.  
  7. ^ Moonves '71 honored for TV industry contributions from the Bucknell University website
  8. ^ "Throng Thrills to Thomashefsky’s Titillating Tales".  
  9. ^ "NY Daily News - Daily Dish - Rush & Molloy: Moonves' marriage may get an airing" from the New York Daily News Archive copy at the Internet Archive Originally published on April 23, 2003 and Retrieved on June 19, 2008
  10. ^ a b "'Big Brother' host Julie Chen marries CBS president Les Moonves". December 29, 2004. Retrieved November 21, 2007.  
  11. ^ http://www.associated Moonves Gets Judge to Grant Quickie Divorce
  12. ^
  13. ^ "It's a Boy for Julie Chen". CBS News. 2009-09-24.  


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