Les Moonves Net Worth
Les Moonves has an estimated net worth of $400 Million. He is an American media executive who was the chairman and CEO of CBS Corp. In July 2018, a New Yorker article shared allegations from six women about Moonves subjecting them to sexual harassment. He earned the majority of his income from CBS Corp.
Les Moonves is a former television executive who served as the chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., where he oversaw the CBS broadcast network, the cable network Showtime, the publisher Simon & Schuster, and other businesses. Moonves joined CBS in 1995 after a successful career at the production companies Lorimar (home of popular shows such as Dallas and Full House) and Warner Brothers Television (where he developed hits such as Friends and E.R.). He aided the network’s rapid rise to first place by greenlighting shows such as Survivor, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Big Brother, and Everybody Loves Raymond. When NFL football returned to CBS in 1998, ratings skyrocketed. The New Yorker published a story in July 2018 about six women who claimed Moonves sexually harassed them from the 1980s to the 2000s.
To calculate the net worth of Les Moonves, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as loans and personal debt, are included in total liabilities.
Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:
|Net Worth:||$400 Million|
|Monthly Salary:||$2 Million+|
|Annual Income:||$30 Million+|
|Source of Wealth:||Businessperson, Actor|
Early Life and Education
Moonves was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 6, 1949. Moonves was a year old when his family relocated to Valley Stream, Long Island. Trips to the city with his mother to see Broadway shows as a child sparked his interest in the arts.
Moonves’ father, Herman, owned gas stations, and his mother, Josephine, was a stay-at-home mother who later attended nursing school. Moonves’ grandfather’s sister married David Ben-Gurion, making Moonves Israel’s first prime minister’s great-nephew.
Moonves went to public school before attending Bucknell University. He considered becoming a doctor, but by the time he graduated in 1971, he was more interested in acting.
Moonves attended the Neighborhood Playhouse’s acting school in New York after graduating from college. Sanford Meisner, an esteemed instructor who taught students such as Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, and Joanne Woodward, coached him there.
Moonves, who had some success as an actor, moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and appeared in shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man and Cannon. But his acting career didn’t take off, and Moonves eventually decided he’d rather be an executive making decisions than chasing roles.
In 1981, Moonves began working with Saul Ilson, the producer of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He worked at Fox before becoming a vice president at Lorimar Television, the production company behind Dallas, Perfect Strangers, and Full House, in 1985. He was president of Lorimar by 1989.
Following a merger with Lorimar, Moonves became president of Warner Brothers Television in 1993. There, he created and sold hit shows such as Friends and E.R., which helped him land a job at CBS.
When Moonves took over as president of CBS Entertainment in 1995, the network was in last place, and its aging demographics were unappealing to advertisers. He oversaw the network’s fortunes turning around, with ratings rising thanks to reality shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Popular shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and The Big Bang Theory joined them.
Moonves took over as CEO of CBS Television in 1998. Moonves rose through the corporate ranks after Sumner Redstone’s Viacom purchased CBS in 1999, eventually becoming chairman and CEO of CBS in April 2003. In 2004, he was named Viacom’s co-president and co-chief operating officer. To combat a drop in stock price, Redstone split up Viacom and CBS in 2006. Moonves was named president and CEO of CBS Corp., where he oversaw CBS as well as subsidiaries such as Simon & Schuster and cable network Showtime. Moonves was appointed chairman of the CBS board of directors in 2016.
CBS thrived during Moonves’ tenure as CEO. CBS All Access, a streaming subscription service, was created under his supervision. He encouraged CBS to produce more of its own programming rather than licensing shows from other production companies. He also witnessed CBS successfully levy programming fees on cable and satellite operators.
Among Moonves’ mistakes at CBS was hiring Katie Couric to anchor the evening news for $15 million per year, despite the fact that ratings success did not follow. Moonves was CEO when CBS News aired a 60 Minutes Wednesday segment with improperly vetted documents (an incident dubbed “Memogate”), and when Charlie Rose left CBS This Morning following allegations of sexual misconduct.
CBS and Donald Trump
“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” Moonves said at a press conference in February 2016, as Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric drew more attention to the 2016 presidential primaries.
Allegations of Sexual Harassment
On July 27, 2018, Ronan Farrow’s article in The New Yorker detailed six women’s accounts of sexual harassment by Moonves. Moonves was accused of forcibly kissing and touching some of the women while demanding sexual favors from others. Illeana Douglas was one of these women, and she claimed Moonves pinned her down on his office couch while “violently kissing” her. The women also claimed Moonves harmed their careers in retaliation for rejecting him. The alleged incidents occurred between the 1980s and the 2000s, with the most recent allegation arising from a meeting in 2006. Furthermore, the article mentioned instances of gender discrimination and harassment among CBS employees.
According to Moonves’ statement to The New Yorker, “Throughout my tenure at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and we have had consistent success in elevating women to top executive positions across our organization. I recognize that I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances decades ago. Those were mistakes, and I deeply regret them. But I’ve always understood, respected, and followed the principle that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I’ve never used my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
CBS’s stock price fell after the article was published. The CBS board of directors promised to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations, but Moonves would remain in his position in the meantime.
On July 31, 2018, NBC News reported that in February 2018, a woman told Los Angeles police that Moonves had sexually abused her in the 1980s. Charges of battery, indecent exposure, and forced oral copulation were reportedly considered, but the district attorney’s office did not pursue the case because the statute of limitations had passed. Farrow tweeted that the complainant did not appear to be one of his New Yorker sources.
Moonves was a member of Anita Hill’s Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, and had spoken out in support of the Me Too movement and its goal of promoting a fair and just workplace for women. Following the publication of the New Yorker article, he resigned from the commission. Female executives and celebrities who have worked with him, including Sharon Osbourne and Lynda Carter, have expressed their support for Moonves.
Moonves resigned as chairman, president, and CEO of CBS Corp on September 9, 2018, after The New Yorker published an article in which six more women accused him of sexual misconduct. Moonves and CBS will contribute $20 million to “one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and workplace equality for women.”
Personal Life and Children
In 1978, Moonves married his first wife, Nancy Wiesenfeld. In 2004, they divorced. Moonves was seeing Julie Chen while still married, despite the fact that he and Wiesenfeld were living apart.
Moonves and Chen married in 2004, just a few weeks after he and his first wife divorced. Moonves and Chen first met when Moonves chose Chen, a newsreader for The Early Show, to host Big Brother. Chen began hosting the daytime talk show The Talk in 2010.
Following the publication of the New Yorker article and its allegations against her husband, Chen issued a statement of support on Twitter, which stated, in part, “Leslie is a good man who is a devoted husband, a loving father, and an inspiring corporate leader. He has always been a good, decent, and moral person. I wholeheartedly support my husband and his statement.”
Moonves has three children from his first marriage — a daughter and two sons — and one son from his marriage to Chen.
Favorite Les Moonves Quotes
I take great pride in all the tremendous success we’ve enjoyed at CBS. And the good news is that I feel even more enthusiastic about what my terrific team and I will accomplish going forward.
I am broadcaster’s biggest cheerleader because I genuinely believe in it. Where else can you get 20 million people a week watching ‘NCIS’ or ‘American Idol?’ Where else can you get 120 million watching the Super Bowl?
Broadcasting for advertisers is still the best game in town, and they know it. Look, I admire a lot of the shows on cable. I think ‘Mad Men’ is wonderful. I think ‘Breaking Bad’ is wonderful. But let’s remember they’re about one-tenth the audience of NCIS.
You won’t see Moonves on Twitter.
The stories about broadcast dying or it being overtaken by cable have stopped. Same goes for the stories about the Internet hurting our business.
We realize that if we live in a world that depends totally on CBS.com, we’d be dead.
We have CBS.com, we have our stuff on iTunes. We feel the wave of the future is getting as much distribution as we can. We feel that we should be nonexclusive and get our content out there.
I read the papers, I surf the Web. At the beginning of the year, I try to see at least two episodes of every show on our network. Am I surfing? All the time. I’m aware of the landscape. I’m a competitor, so I have to know whom I’m competing with.
CBS is the largest out-of-home advertising company in the U.S.
News, by and large, has been the purest of all the television mediums, or at least we’ve tried to keep it that way, and there constantly is the argument about the separation between church and state.
By the same token, I think news has more and more of a pro bono aspect to all the networks. When we do our election coverages throughout this coming year, it’s not a money-maker for us. It is more of a public service situation.
View our larger collection of the best Les Moonves quotes.
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