Leslie Moonves

Leslie Moonves

Leslie Moonves
Les Moonves at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Woody Allen's film Whatever Works
Born Leslie Roy Moonves
(1949-10-06) October 6, 1949 [1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Bucknell University (B.A., 1971)
Occupation President and CEO of CBS Corporation
Director at ZeniMax Media
Salary $66.9 Million (2013) (includes other compensation)[2]
Spouse(s) Nancy Wiesenfeld (1978–2004)
Julie Chen (2004–present)

Leslie Roy Moonves (; born October 6, 1949)[1] 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. Moonves has also been a Director at ZeniMax Media since 1999.[3]


  • Early life 1
  • Business career 2
    • Lorimar Television and Warner Brothers Television 2.1
    • CBS 2.2
    • ZeniMax Media 2.3
  • Acting career 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Moonves was born to a [7]

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 include Vice President of Development at Saul Ilson Productions (in association with Columbia Pictures Television) and development executive for Catalina Productions.[3]

Lorimar Television and Warner Brothers Television

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 1990 to 1993, he was President at Lorimar.[8] Then in July 1993, he became President/CEO of Warner Bros. Television, when Warner Bros. and Lorimar Television combined operations. While Moonves was president/CEO of Warner Bros. Television, he green-lighted the hit shows Friends and ER, among many others.[7]


He joined CBS in July 1995 as president of CBS Entertainment.[9] 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 Television Studios, CBS Television Distribution, 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.[7]

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.[10]

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.

He is considered as the second most highly paid director for 2012, he gets $58.8 million.[11]

He is considered as the second most highly paid Executive for 2013, he gets $65.4 million.[12]

In 2013, Leslie Moonves was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[13]

ZeniMax Media

Moonves has served on the board of ZeniMax Media since its foundation in 1999, alongside his friend and ZeniMax President Ernest Del.[14] Moonves' investment[15] in the company has been noted, as well as his appearances at several launch parties, most notably for Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Rage.[16]

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[17] before deciding on a career change.[7] He also worked as one of casting director Caro Jones' first office assistants early in her career.[18]

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

From early 2004, Moonves has made regular contributions to 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' 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." Moonves obliged. Later appearances have taken the same format, with Letterman discussing current events and the CBS network with the company's CEO.

On the March 23, 2015 premiere episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden, Moonves portrayed himself as the head of CBS, who then sends out a golden ticket that will grant whomever finds it a chance to host the Late Late Show, in an homage to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Moonves would also appear on the first episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on September 8, 2015. During this episode, Moonves was repeatedly shown with a giant switch which he could use to switch the network to reruns of The Mentalist (as CBS had aired reruns of scripted dramas in the 11:35 pm time slot over the summer between the final episode of the Late Show with David Letterman and the premiere of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) if he was dissatisfied with Colbert's performance (which he did, briefly, twice during the show).[19]

Personal life

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

In 1978, Moonves married Nancy Wiesenfeld (m. Dec 17, 1978, div. 2004) with whom he has three children.[20][21] In April 2003, Nancy Moonves filed for divorce in L.A. Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. Nancy and Les Moonves were already living apart.[22]

In 2004, although his divorce from Nancy was not yet finalized, Les Moonves began dating CBS' The Early Show reporter Julie Chen.[23] On December 10, 2004, Moonves got a court to grant an early divorce.[24] 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 13 days later in Mexico, he married television and news personality Julie Chen.[23] On September 24, 2009, Chen gave birth to a son, Charlie.[25]

Moonves resides in Beverly Hills, California in a house he bought from Andy Heyward.[26] He also owns residences in New York City and Malibu.[27]

Moonves is a great-nephew of David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel.[28][29]


  1. ^ a b "Leslie Moonves Interview". "Archive of American Television". 
  2. ^ Variety Staff. "CBS Chief Leslie Moonves Received $66.9 Million Pay Package for 2013". Variety. 
  3. ^ a b "Biography from CBS Corporation website". 
  4. ^ CNN Money: "Leslie Moonves's Role of a Lifetime. The former actor excels at spotting talent and picking shows. Now he has to sell Wall Street on CBS stock" By Devin Leonard April 10, 2006 |"Moonves joked afterward. "You know, this is my tenth time playing Carnegie Hall. I believe that is a new record for a Jew without an instrument."
  5. ^ "Biography". scribd.com. 
  6. ^ Moonves '71 honored for TV industry contributions from the Bucknell University website
  7. ^ a b c d Leslie Moonves's Role of a Lifetime Money via CNN.com. Retrieved April 10, 2006.
  8. ^ John Lippman (October 11, 1990). "Moonves Takes Over Helm of Lorimar".  
  9. ^ Bill Carter (August 18, 1998). "CBS Fills President's Post At Entertainment Division".  
  10. ^ "'"UPN Cancels 'Star Trek: Enterprise. Trektoday.com. February 2, 2005. Retrieved November 21, 2007. 
  11. ^ Prisma Media (16 May 2013). "Les grands patrons de mieux en mieux payés aux Etats-Unis". Capital.fr. 
  12. ^ "CEO Compensation Histogram Chart - Business Insider". Business Insider. 28 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List". 
  14. ^ Sterngold, James (September 24, 1998). "Kick-Starting (Kapow!) a TV Series; CBS Broke All the Rules to Fling an Action Show at Young Men". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ "ZeniMax Media raises $9.9 million from some big names - VentureBeat - Deals - by Dean Takahashi". venturebeat.com. 
  16. ^ "Leslie Moonves Pictures - "Rage" Video Game Launch - Zimbio". Zimbio. 
  17. ^ Leslie Moonves at the Internet Movie Database
  18. ^ Barnes, Mike (2009-09-10). "Casting director Caro Jones dies".  
  19. ^ Worland, Justin (September 9, 2015). "Watch Stephen Colbert Joke With CEO of CBS About Canceling His Show".  
  20. ^ "NY Daily News – Daily Dish – Rush & Molloy: Moonves' marriage may get an airing" from the New York Daily News Archive copy at the Wayback Machine Originally published on April 23, 2003 and Retrieved on June 19, 2008
  21. ^ Interfaith Family: "Interfaith Celebrities: The Talk's Hosts and David Schwimmers Bride" By Nate Bloom October 26, 2010 |"Moonves, who is Jewish, began an affair with Chen while still married to his first (Jewish) wife, who is the mother of his three older children"
  22. ^ "Moonves' Marriage May Get An Airing". Daily News (New York). 
  23. ^ a b Big Brother' host Julie Chen marries CBS president Les Moonves"'". Realitytvworld.com. December 29, 2004. Retrieved November 21, 2007. 
  24. ^ """Moonves: "I Want To Get On With My Life. The Smoking Gun. 
  25. ^ "It's a Boy for Julie Chen". CBS News. 2009-09-24. 
  26. ^ "Los Angeles real estate news, data and statistics, home sales and real estate listings - Los Angeles". blockshopper.com. 
  27. ^ Mark David (April 14, 2014). "CBS President Les Moonves Lists Malibu Starter House".  
  28. ^ "Throng Thrills to Thomashefsky's Titillating Tales". 
  29. ^ JSpace: "All in the Family: Les Moonves is Grandnephew of Ben Gurion October 6, 2011

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Peter Tortorici
President of CBS
Succeeded by
Nancy Tellem