Moonves Reportedly Offered Roles to Cover Up Harassment

Former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who was forced to resign in part because of allegations that he had harassed and assaulted women over the course of his career, offered a former actress a role in a CBS show in order to keep her story quiet, a new report says.

According to a lengthy story in the New York Times, Moonves in 1995, when he was an executive at Warner Bros., exposed himself to actress Bobbie Phillips and forced her to have oral sex. The experience led her to leave the business shortly thereafter.

Last year, her agent, Marv Dauer, who was aware that something happened between Phillips and Moonves, became involved with Moonves in attempting to get roles for Phillips and another of Dauer’s female clients in shows being produced by CBS in an attempt to keep her quiet, according to the story.

Moonves pushed a CBS casting executive to get jobs for the women because if Phillips talked, “I’m finished,” Moonves said according to Dauer.

CBS has two law firms investigating charges against Moonves. Moonves’ contract with CBS would give him $120 million in severance benefits, but if the company determines that Moonves’ departure was for “cause,” he will get nothing.

The report that Moonves tried to prevent Phillips from talking and deleted texts regarding a possible cover up, could lead to a finding for cause.

In a statement to the New York Times, Mooves said “I strongly believe that the sexual encounter with Ms. Phillips more than 20 years ago was consensual.”

According to the story, Dauer said he’d gotten in touch with Moonves last year when the allegations of harassment began to be reported to warn him that he’d been getting calls from the newspaper regarding the incident.

Dauer said Moonves asked him to convince Phillips not to speak publicly, not to contact him via email and gave him cell phone numbers where he could be reached via text.

Moonves deleted texts between himself and Dauer, according to the story. Moonves asked Dauer to delete the texts as well, but he did not. The story contains some of the texts from late last year and early this year.

In January, Moonves mentioned a potential incident with Phillips to the investigators for CBS, but didn’t say CBS might give the actress a job.

In a follow up interview, Moonves acknowledged seeking a job for Phillips, noting that it was “inappropriate.”

That disclosure led to the CBS board holding an emergency meeting with its lawyers that focused on Moonves’ relationship with Dauer, according to the Times. The lawyers recommended Moonves be put on leave. He stepped down Sept. 9.

The board found out about the deleted text messages more recently.

Phillips has hired a lawyer to pursue possible actions against Moonves. In a mediation proceeding Phillips sought $15 million. Those discussions collapsed, according to the Times. She is now weighing her options, her lawyer told the paper.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.