CBS President and Chief Advertising Revenue Officer Jo Ann Ross has expressed support for CBS CEO Les Moonves, after six women accused him of harassment in an article written by Ronan Farrow for the New Yorker.
“I fully support Leslie Moonves and the statement he made,” Ross wrote on Twitter. “My experience with him on a professional and personal basis has never had any hint of the behavior this story refers to.
Farrow’s story detailed graphic accusations of sexual misconduct against Moonves, including by writer-actress Illeana Douglas, who said that during a business meeting with Moonves in 1997, she was pinned down with her arms over her head while Moonves “violently” kissed her.
Douglas said she met Moonves in 1996, as she was shopping for an overall network deal after an award-nominated turn on HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” Moonves offered her a $300,000 fee to write a TV pilot and appear in numerous CBS shows, she said, adding that the arrangement quickly dissolved. She said she lost both her representatives after she rejected his advances.
In rapid succession, Douglas said, her agent Patrick Whitesell (the WME Co-CEO was employed by Creative Artists Agency at the time) dropped her from his roster and effectively fired her. Whitesell had no immediate comment on the matter. Talent manager Melissa Prophet dropped Douglas as a client, as well. When reached by TheWrap, Prophet said, “The reason I fired her was because of her behavior on set, screaming at me.”
Prophet said a pattern of hostility led to the end of their relationship, though she could not speak to whether this so-called hostility was inspired by events with Moonves. A rep for Douglas declined to comment on Prophet’s statement about the end of their working relationship.
Ross, who has worked for CBS since 1993, described Moonves as “an advocate and mentor” who showed her “the deepest respect at all times.” She also said that she has “never felt at risk of being treated differently than a male executive would be treated.”
“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,” Moonves said in a statement provided to TheWrap, first published in the New Yorker story.
“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. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
See Ross’ full statement below:
— Jo Ann Ross (@JoAnnRossCBS) July 28, 2018