The bombshell sexual misconduct allegations against Leslie Moonves may very well lead to his removal as chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., where he’s been in charge for two decades. But will it affect the employment of Julie Chen, who is married to Moonves and gets two checks from CBS as host of “The Talk” and “Big Brother.”
Variety reports that unlike other wives of men whose careers have been wiped out by the #MeToo wave, Chen’s situation – as both Moonves’ wife and employee – is a bit different.
As evidence: she immediately took to Twitter Friday night with a statement. “Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader,” she said. “He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being. I fully support my husband.”
Sources say that Chen’s relationship as both an employee and wife of Moonves could make the coming days awkward for her. She’s scheduled to resume as a co-host on “The Talk” on Monday. Many viewers will be tuning in to see how she reacts, what she has to say and if she continues to stand by her husband, especially if more victims come forward or he is fired by then.
“If Les resigns, what will happen to Julie?” asked one source at a different network, who asked not to be identified speculating about personnel issues. The terms of her contract are not known.
Moonves and Chen have always kept a low profile as a couple, only making appearances together at major industry events like the Golden Globes and the Vanity Fair Oscars party. They often don’t speak about each other in interviews.
They met in the ’90s. At the time, Moonves was the president and chief officer of CBS Television. Chen hosted “CBS This Morning” and “Big Brother,” two programs that he oversaw. They married in 2004, at a private ceremony in Mexico. She was 34, and he was 55, coming off a difficult divorce. The date of their wedding had to be pushed back, because Moonves was still married to his estranged wife, Nancy, during their engagement.
That year, Nancy told the New York Daily News that she didn’t watch CBS. “I don’t want to see [Chen],” she said. “It’s not healthy for me or my kids.” She added: “I felt everybody knew what was going on. And everybody knew. But me.”
Insiders have long whispered that Chen’s relationship with Moonves represented a conflict of interest, since he made decisions about the programming of her shows. In a 2014 cover story with Variety, Barbara Walters made a crack about it as she prepared to leave “The View.”
“I don’t think the success of her show diminishes us, nor do I think the success or failure of ‘The View’ affects them,” Walters said. “The only thing I’ll say is when you’re married to the president of the network, you get more promos.”
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