CBS must work to put its former CEO, Leslie Moonves, in the past. To do so, it has hired a new slate of directors who have a fair amount of expertise in peering into the future.
CBS’ new directors include an attorney who specializes in mergers and acquisitions; a former top Wall Street investment banker; the CEO of a toy company that has worked to expand into entertainment; an expert in corporate transformation; a veteran entertainment-industry executive; and the former CEO of Time Warner. They take new roles as the company – the owner of what is one of the nation’s best known TV networks – attempts to move forward after Moonves left in the wake of multiple women levying serious allegations of sexual harassment against him and as the company grapples with a new world in which digital giants are outmaneuvering many of the entertainment’s traditional bellwethers.
Candace Beinecke is an attorney who specializes in corporate governance and M&A. Barbara Byrne is a former vice chairman of Barclays who helped Altria spin off Kraft, among other deals. As CEO, Brian Goldner has steered toymaker Hasbro into the media world, setting up a joint-venture cable network with Discovery Communications and turning properties like “My Little Pony” into kiddie-TV favorites; Susan Schuman has helped companies – including Viacom and Oprah Winfrey Network – chart new transformation strategies. Strauss Zelnick is a veteran movie-and-music industry executive who has extended his expertise into videogames. Richard Parsons stabilized Time Warner after its disastrous merger with AOL and then went on to become chairman of Citigroup Inc.
With the new group, CBS has 11 independent directors and two affiliated with its controlling shareholder, National Amusements Inc. Previously, NAI was represented by three directors.
The sextet could inject the board with new thinking. Hasbro’s Goldner, for example, once made a play in 2014 to purchase DreamWorks Animation, which eventually wound up with NBCUniversal.
“Today’s resolution will benefit all shareholders, allowing us to focus on the business of running CBS – and transforming it for the future,” said Shari Redstone, the executive who oversees National Amusements, in a statement Sunday night.
Some of the former board members had strong affiliations with Moonves. Two board members who are leaving are Arnold Kopelson, the veteran producer behind films like “Fugitive” and “Seven,” and Leonard Goldberg, the veteran movie and TV producer who currently is executive producer of CBS’ police drama “Blue Bloods.” Both were also seen as Moonves loyalists. Another departing board member, the former Bank of America chairman Charles Gifford, had clashed with Shari Redstone.
Redstone also sacrificed in creating the new board. Another departing member is David Andelman, a longtime legal advisor to the Redstone family. But one of the new directors, Susan Beinecke, has worked with the Redstones in the past. She represented Viacom in 1987 when Sumner Redstone bought the company – and managed to stay under new management.
CBS’ board had been slowly transforming, most notably with the naming of Martha Minow, the former dean of Harvard Law School, to the group in 2017. Parsons had been slated to be named to the board at the company’s next shareholders’ meeting, which has been postponed a few times in recent weeks with CBS in the midst of investigating Moonves and squaring off in a court battle with National Amusements.