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Embattled Former CBS Chief Leslie Moonves Launches Moon Rise Unlimited Venture

Leslie Moonves, the former CBS chairman-CEO who was brought down last year by allegations of sexual misconduct, has set up a new business venture that appears to be targeting production, distribution and streaming.

Moonves’ plan to launch Moon Rise Unlimited LLC came to light in a filing to register the Moon Rise name with the California Secretary of State’s office. The filings were made Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 and were first reported Friday by the New York Times.

A representative for Moonves declined to comment. The filings list the initial address for Moon Rise as 2049 Century Park East, one of the high-rise buildings in the Century City area that is home to numerous law firms. There were rumblings in the industry this week that Moonves has taken office space in the West Hollywood area. The Times reported that Moonves has set up shop at the famed 9000 Sunset Boulevard office tower.

The filings also show Moonves registered the name Moon Rise Technologies and Moon Rise Productions. Moon Rise Technologies is listed on the one-page form as focusing on “streaming services and distribution.” Moon Rise Productions is listed as focusing on “film and television production.” Moon Rise Unlimited is described as offering “entertainment services.”

CBS is believed to be footing the bill for Moonves’ office space under the exit-agreement terms of his employment contract with CBS. Moonves was ousted in September amid allegations of sexual misconduct over the years from multiple women.

Moonves is in a legal fight with CBS over a $120 million severance payment. CBS’ internal investigation concluded in December that Moonves was fired for cause and thus is not eligible for the mammoth severance spelled out in his contract. But CBS’ obligation to pay for office space for Moonves for at least a year after his parting with the company, among other services, was also guaranteed as part of his employment contract and may still be enforceable despite his termination.

Moonves and CBS are headed to arbitration to settle the dispute over the $120 million payment. Moonves has acknowledged regrets for past behavior but has steadfastly denied that he forced women into performing sexual acts or used his industry clout to retaliate against women who were rebuffed.

The dark cloud hanging over what had been a storied career will undoubtedly make it hard for Moonves to do business with major industry players, given the heightened corporate sensitivity to employing artists accused of sexual misconduct.

At the same time, it’s understood that Moonves and his wife, Julie Chen Moonves, are determined to make an effort to restore his reputation over the long term. Moon Rise could be the first step toward Moonves resurfacing in the industry where he was once a titan. Moonves ranks as the most powerful entertainment executive to be disgraced by sexual misconduct allegations and forced out of the company he once ruled.

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