×

Richard Parsons Steps Down as CBS Chairman; Strauss Zelnick to Take Role

Media entrepreneur Strauss Zelnick replaced Richard Parsons as the chairman of the CBS Corp. board of directors Sunday, an unexpected switch that takes place as the venerable media company seeks to remake itself after the recent controversial ouster of former CEO Leslie Moonves.

Parsons cited health reasons for his decision to step down. “As some of you know, when I agreed to join the board and serve as the interim chair, I was already dealing with a serious health challenge – multiple myeloma – but I felt that the situation was manageable. Unfortunately, unanticipated complications have created additional new challenges, and my doctors have advised that cutting back on my current commitments is essential to my overall recovery,” Parsons said in a statement Sunday night. “I trust CBS’ distinguished Board, now led by Strauss Zelnick, as well as CBS’ strong management team led by Joe Ianniello, will continue to successfully guide this Company into its very bright future.”

CBS said its board of directors made a “unanimous decision” Sunday to appoint Zelnick as interim chairman.

CBS has been charting a new course for itself since Moonves was forced out in September in the wake of revelations in two New Yorker articles that several women alleged he made unwanted sexual advances to them over the course of several years. Moonves has disputed some of the accusations. But his departure has resulted in a reworked board of directors and an interim CEO, CBS President Joe Ianniello, who has in recent weeks moved to put new executives over several important company functions, including human resources and entertainment.

CBS has hired two different law firms to probe the Moonves allegations as well as its the company’s internal culture. Its next annual meeting is slated for December 11, and there is some hope the legal inquiries might be resolved by that time.

In Zelnick, CBS has an executive who has worked in many different parts of the media industry through the arc of his career. He is chairman and CEO of videogame company Take-Two Interactive Software and a former CEO of BMG Entertainment. He also served once as chief operating officer of 20th Century Fox.

Parsons’ departure may come as a surprise to investors and company observers. The former Time Warner chief was said to have played an instrumental role in advising Shari Redstone, who leads CBS’ controlling shareholder, National Amusements, on the makeup of a new board of directors, which CBS put into place in September. He was also believed to be involved in working with the board on a search for a new CEO. Ianniello is one of the candidates, but outsiders with ties to Parsons, including former Turner CEO John Martin have been cited as being under possible consideration as well.

 

More TV

  • John Callahan

    John Callahan, 'All My Children' Soap Opera Star, Dies at 66

    John Callahan, a soap opera star on “All My Children,” died on Saturday morning after suffering a stroke at his Palm Springs, Calif., home on Friday. He was 66. “Your bigger than life, gregarious personality will leave a hole in our hearts forever. We are devastated–my great friend, co-parent partner, and loving father to Kaya,” [...]

  • Cardi B Joe Exotic

    Cardi B Pledges to Start a GoFundMe for Joe Exotic From Netflix's 'Tiger King'

    Cardi B, like most people in the world, is hooked on Netflix’s “Tiger King.” Over the past couple of days, Cardi has been tweeting about the new docu-series, which follows the bizarre story of Joe Exotic, a private zoo owner with hundreds of exotic animals who ends up in jail for hiring a hitman to [...]

  • Victorious

    Ariana Grande and the 'Victorious' Cast Celebrate 10 Year Anniversary on Zoom

    Nickelodeon fans’ dreams came true when the cast of “Victorious” reunited to celebrate the show’s debut 10 years ago. Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice and their co-stars were supposed to get together in person to commemorate the anniversary, but due to the shelter-in-place rules around the country, the cast all hopped on a Zoom call. Grande [...]

  • Tiger King

    'Tiger King': Where Everyone in the Series Is Now

    (Warning: Spoilers ahead. Do not watch if you haven’t seen all seven episodes of Netflix’s “Tiger King.”) Like a stealthy tiger padding through the jungle, no one saw Netflix’s “Tiger King” coming until it was too late to un-see the questionable conditions the animals were kept in, and the questionable taste in tattoos of nearly [...]

  • Jameela Jamil attends the NBC and

    Jameela Jamil Admits She Could Have Picked a Better Time to Come Out as Queer

    Jameela Jamil isn’t interested in being perfect.  “Sometimes, I do f— up, but I always apologize when I’ve gotten it wrong,” she told said in a candid interview on “Variety Live,” which streams via Variety’s Instagram account. “I learn, and other people learn with me.”  And she definitely isn’t afraid to back down from a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content