CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said Sunday “we must respect the voices that come forward” accusing CBS CEO Leslie Moonves of sexual misconduct.
“All allegations need to be and are being taken seriously,” Kahl said during CBS’ portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour that is being held in Beverly Hills.
Kahl said CBS Entertainment, which is responsible for acquiring or developing the entertainment programming presented on CBS, is “committed to a collaborative, inclusive and safe workplace.”
“I’ve had many female colleagues come to me this week who have been saddened by what they’ve read about our company,” Kahl said. “They said it does not represent their experience at CBS.”
“We’re not saying we’re perfect. No large company is. And there’s always room for improvement, but a lot of us have been here a long time precisely because CBS Entertainment is such a fulfilling place to work.”
Kahl said CBS has “over 40 shows in production, and the vast majority of those shows are excellent sets where everybody’s very happy and everybody’s very safe.”
“Any time any allegation comes up on any of our shows, it’s investigated immediately,” Kahl said. “There’s no wiggle room there. Any complaint, we have a procedure we follow.
“It goes to HR and sometimes to outside counsel, if necessary. So while maybe we are not perfect, we take everything seriously. At CBS or any other place, any other workplace, on the set or in the halls, everybody deserves a safe workplace.”
Kahl called Moonves “an excellent boss and a mentor for a long time, and he put me in this job.”
Following a roughly three-hour meeting July 30, the CBS Corp. Board of Directors announced plans to hire “outside counsel to conduct an investigation” into sexual misconduct allegations made by six women against Moonves.
A statement from CBS reporting on actions taken by the board did not mention Moonves by name. It noted that the board took no other action, meaning Moonves remains in his position as CEO in spite of the allegations detailed July 27 in The New Yorker by journalist Ronan Farrow.
Farrow’s report details sexual harassment allegations against Moonves by six women, including actress/writer Illeana Douglas, known for her work on “Six Feet Under” and the films “Cape Fear” and “Goodfellas,” writers Janet Jones and Dinah Kirgo and producer Christine Peters.
Four of the women allege forcible touching or kissing during business meetings and two others say he intimidated them or threatened their careers when they refused his advances.
In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.
“But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career,” he said. “This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how to help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
CBS issued a statement July 27 vowing to investigate the allegations.
“All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” according to the statement. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”
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