Les Moonves is out at CBS. He stands to receive a cool $120,000,000 if not terminated for cause. Much more below which is sure to make you sick to your stomach knowing he could walk away with that kind of money despite doing what he allegedly did. "If Moonves is cleared in the investigation, he would receive the severance package and serve as an advisor for one year after his resignation, to ensure a smooth transition. He’ll also receive an office and security for up to two years. The total amount of the severance package is $140 million. CBS has already deducted $20 million for contributions he and the media company will make to charitable organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. Moonves resigned yesterday, ending his 24-year run at the company as one of media’s most imposing chief executives. The end had been predicted for days, but negotiations took on a new urgency and intensity after The New Yorker published a follow-on report by Ronan Farrow detailing new allegations by six women spanning the 1980s to the 2000s [the entire article is below]. These fresh accounts of sexual misconduct include claims that Moonves forced women to perform oral sex on him and that he exposed himself to them without their consent."
GMA Day premieres today at 1pm. Contain your excitement please.
NBC announced Friday that it has added five more Brooklyn Nine-Nine episodes to its initial order of 13, bringing the total for season six of the Fox-turned-NBC comedy to 18.
John Legend has joined the EGOT club (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).
A review of Tom Arnold’s The Hunt for the Trump Tapes. "The greatest dirt that’s dished in the series’s early going is former Celebrity Apprentice contestant Penn Jillette saying that, on set, he got 'that hot feeling you get of your face flushing when someone has done something tremendously inappropriate.' Jillette cites “homophobic, racist, misogynist things,” without giving specifics; but instead of asking a follow-up question, Arnold grins and says, 'Oh my gosh.' Actually finding out what’s inside the notional Trump tapes, or even if they exist, is less important for the show than taking nourishment from an atmosphere of scandal. Other insiders whom Arnold reached for comment ended up backing out before they could be interviewed on tape, something that could mean everything, or nothing. Does it really matter? What any real revelation of years-old prejudiced language would mean for the president who survived the “Access Hollywood” scandal is never dealt with; for Arnold, the mere broaching of potential scandal is enough for a half-hour’s entertainment. The show is fueled, parasitically, by the times in which we live, even as it has little to say about them beyond that they are unbelievable and crazy."
"AMC has released character portraits of the main cast of The Walking Dead ahead of season 9, so we can get an early glimpse at how the characters will look beyond the time jump. Most of the portraits don’t provide us with anything particularly new. We already know, for instance, that Rick’s look will be more clean-cut and trim, while Maggie will be rocking longer hair after she gives birth. Meanwhile, Father Gabriel’s eye will reveal the damage from his illness last season, while Aaron will be sporting a new beard. We also know that Michonne will be wearing a small piece of Carl’s plaid shirt in her dreads this season to honor his memory, and that Jadis is now Anne, and her look will reflect that. However, the biggest and most upsetting change (for some The Walking Deadviewers, anyway) is what has happened to Eugene. Notice what’s missing from the photo? The mullet is gone! The party in the back has been tied up and tamed. The El-Camino, the Kentucky waterfall, the Achy-breaky-bad-mistakey is no more. The late-career Elvis hairstyle has left the building. And you know what they say about the mullet? It’s not a hairstyle. It’s a lifestyle. I just hope this doesn’t mean that 'and I quote, a fun guy' hasn’t also left behind, along with the greatest hairstyle in the history of television. This is the most upsetting hair change since Felicity cut off her hair and ruined everything. I hope that we don’t find out that the secret to the success of The Walking Dead was Eugene’s mullet, all along."
"Anthony Bourdain was awarded posthumous Emmys Sunday night as the late chef’s work on Parts Unknown won Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program and Outstanding Informational Series or Special. Parts Unknown also took home awards for its editing, sound editing, sound mixing and its online series, but it was the Outstanding Writing Emmy that was especially meaningful for the series’ crew, as that was the award Bourdain coveted most prior to his June 8th suicide. 'Tony was nominated for this Emmy many times,' producer Lydia Tenaglia said in her Outstanding Writing acceptance speech on Bourdain’s behalf."
A new season of Flipping Out premieres tomorrow night, but things are not peachy in Jeff Lewis' world. "Jeff Lewis has been known to fire an employee or two on Flipping Out. But the latest shakeup might be the saddest for fans of the Bravo show.
"People has learned that Lewis is no longer working with longtime collaborator and friend Jenni Pulos.
"According to multiple sources, Pulos parted ways with Jeff Lewis Design — the house flipper’s company — a few months ago. The emotional moment is said to have been filmed for the upcoming eleventh season of Flipping Out, which premieres September 11.
"Since then, the two haven’t spoken at all. 'It’s sad,' one source says. 'They used to be inseparable but their differences just got too big to overcome.'
“'They found fame together so there was always this thought that nothing could tear them apart, but that hasn’t been the case,' the source adds. 'They’ll never come back from this. It’s over.'
"Reps for Lewis, 48, and Pulos, 45, as well as Bravo did not respond to People’s request for comment, but tensions between the pair — who have been friends for over 20 years — had been mounting for months, a second insider explains.
“'It was a combination of things,' the second source explains. 'They both had different priorities pushing them in opposite directions. … It was only a matter of time before it eventually exploded.'
"Pulos had gone on maternity leave from Jeff Lewis Design after the birth of her second child Georgia Grace, 1, and had returned to find many of the responsibilities of her position redistributed, the source says. While Lewis promoted Pulos to a new position, she felt like she wasn’t being given the opportunities to advance that she wanted. 'She felt entitled to more than Lewis could give her,' the source says.
"At the same time, Lewis’ patience with Pulos had been running thin, the insider explained. 'Jenni was Jeff’s longest employee,' the source says. 'He thought of her as his No. 2, but she wasn’t invested in the same way he was.'
"While many different things factored in to their feud, there was one blowup that led to the end of their friendship, a third source tells People.
“'It was a horrible fight that was uncomfortable for everyone around them to watch,' the source says. 'There were too many hurt feelings there and they both just unleashed on one another.'
"With Lewis and Pulos at odds, the future of her appearances on additional seasons of Bravo’s Flipping Out remains to be seen.
"Though the show follows Lewis and his employees, Pulos as played an integral role since it debuted in July 2007. Like Lewis, she’s also an executive producer on the series.
“'They’ll never film together again,' the third insider says. 'Jeff has cut people out of his life before who wronged him, and that’s where Jenni sits now. This feels like a goodbye, at least for her.'”
From The New Yorker: "Three hours after the publication of this story, CNN reported that Moonves will step down from his position at CBS. A person familiar with the discussions said that Moonves will no longer receive any of his exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations, and that a portion of the amount he would have received will be donated to organizations focussed on sexual harassment and assault.
"Members of the board of the CBS Corporation are negotiating with the company’s chairman and C.E.O., Leslie Moonves, about his departure. Sources familiar with the board’s activities said the discussions about Moonves stepping down began several weeks ago, after an article published in the TheNew Yorker detailed allegations by six women that the media executive had sexually harassed them, and revealed complaints by dozens of others that the culture in some parts of the company tolerated sexual misconduct. Since then, the board has selected outside counsel to lead an investigation into the claims.
"As the negotiations continue and shareholders and advocacy groups accuse the board of failing to hold Moonves accountable, new allegations are emerging. Six additional women are now accusing Moonves of sexual harassment or assault in incidents that took place between the nineteen-eighties and the early aughts. They include claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex on him, that he exposed himself to them without their consent, and that he used physical violence and intimidation against them. A number of the women also said that Moonves retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers. Similar frustrations about perceived inaction have prompted another woman to raise a claim of misconduct against Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” who previously reported to Moonves as the chairman of CBS News.
"One of the women with allegations against Moonves, a veteran television executive named Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, told me that she filed a criminal complaint late last year with the Los Angeles Police Department, accusing Moonves of physically restraining her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and of exposing himself to her and violently throwing her against a wall in later incidents. The two worked together in the late nineteen-eighties. Law-enforcement sources told me that they found Golden-Gottlieb’s allegations credible and consistent but prosecutors declined to pursue charges because the statutes of limitations for the crimes had expired. Early this year, Moonves informed a portion of the CBS board about the criminal investigation.
"The terms of Moonves’s potential departure have yet to be settled. Last week, news reports had circulated that he might leave with an exit package of nearly a hundred million dollars. Several of the women expressed outrage that Moonves might be enriched by his departure from the company. Jessica Pallingston, a writer, alleges that Moonves coerced her into performing oral sex on him when she worked as his temporary assistant, in the nineties, and that, after she repelled subsequent sexual advances, he became hostile, at one point calling her a 'cunt.' 'It’s completely disgusting,' she said of the reports of Moonves’s potential exit package. 'He should take all that money and give it to an organization that helps survivors of sexual abuse.'
"In a statement, Moonves acknowledged three of the encounters, but said that they were consensual: 'The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.' Moonves declined to specify which three encounters he considered consensual.
"In separate statements, the CBS board of directors said that it 'is committed to a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations, and that investigation is actively underway,' and the CBS Corporation said it 'takes these allegations very seriously,' and called the board’s investigation 'thorough' and 'ongoing.'
"Golden-Gottlieb worked with Moonves at the television production company Lorimar-Telepictures in the nineteen-eighties. She was already an industry veteran who had held senior positions at NBC, MGM, and Disney. Golden-Gottlieb, who is now in her early eighties and retired, told me that the first incident in which Moonves assaulted her occurred in 1986, when he was in charge of movies and miniseries at Lorimar and she was the head of comedy development there. Moonves, she recalled, came into her office in the middle of a workday and suggested the two of them go out for lunch. Instead of taking her to a nearby restaurant, she said, Moonves drove her to a secluded area. When Golden-Gottlieb began to ask if he was having trouble finding a parking space, she said that Moonves 'grabbed my head and he took it all the way down onto his penis, and pushed his penis into my mouth.' She said he held her head in place forcibly. 'He came very quickly,” she recalled. “You sort of just go numb. You don’t know what to do.' Distraught, Golden-Gottlieb demanded that Moonves take her back to the office. When she got there, she said, she vomited. “It was just sick,” she told me. She didn’t report the incident at the time because she was a single mother supporting two children and feared for her career. 'I realized he was the new golden boy,' she told me. 'I just kept quiet.' But the incident, she said, 'never left me.'
"Golden-Gottlieb continued to work with Moonves, who was later promoted to more senior positions within Lorimar. She said that she had avoided being alone with Moonves whenever possible in the period after the first assault. In early 1988, she told me, she entered Moonves’s office to discuss a work matter, and he said that he was going to get a glass of wine. He left briefly and, when he returned, she said, he was not wearing pants, and was aroused. She turned away, embarrassed, and ran out of the room. The following day, Moonves approached her in her office and berated her for not sending a memo to another executive. When she told Moonves that she didn’t typically share her memos with that executive, he became enraged, she recalled. 'He reaches over and pulls me up and throws me, I mean hard, against the wall,' she told me. Afterward, she said, she collapsed and 'couldn’t get up.' She recalled 'lying on the floor, just crying.'
"After she rebuffed Moonves, Golden-Gottlieb said that Moonves retaliated against her professionally, moving her into ever smaller offices. 'Every two days, he’d find a darker space, or a place downstairs, or something,' she recalled. She told me that her career in the entertainment industry suffered, which she attributed to his influence at Lorimar and, later, CBS. 'He absolutely ruined my career,” she said. “He was the head of CBS. No one was going to take me.'
"Golden-Gottlieb told several acquaintances about the incidents with Moonves. One, a veteran showrunner, recalled feeling stunned when Golden-Gottlieb, in a social setting about a decade ago, recounted her claim that Moonves had exposed himself to her. “This is the head of a network,” he said. Golden-Gottlieb struck him as 'a professional person. She didn’t seem like the type of person to make things up.' Golden-Gottlieb said that, even years later, she is still frightened of Moonves. But she said that her determination to pursue criminal charges was galvanized by the women speaking about sexual harassment and assault as part of the #MeToo movement. 'They gave me courage,' she said. 'I saw everyone coming out; I had to.'
"Sources familiar with the CBS board’s activities said that Moonves was informed of Golden-Gottlieb’s complaint to the Los Angeles police in the fall. He did not disclose the existence of the criminal investigation to a number of CBS board members until several months later. The full board was not informed, and Moonves was allowed to continue running the company. 'They don’t care about me. I can’t do anything for them,' Golden-Gottlieb told me. 'The whole world is only about money, nothing else.'
"Jessica Pallingston had worked for several years as an assistant to various Warner Bros. executives, first employed directly by the company and then through an outside contractor, when she was assigned to assist Moonves for several days, in the spring of 1994. A description of the assignment noted that Moonves, then the president of Warner Bros. Television, would work out of his hotel room. Pallingston, who was thirty-four at the time, had studied writing at Oberlin College and hoped to break into the industry. She considered working for Moonves a significant opportunity, so she accepted the assignment.
"On her first day of work, Pallingston arrived at Moonves’s suite at the Regency Hotel about ten minutes before her appointed start time of 10 A.M. Moonves, she recalled, came to the door in a bathrobe and then departed and returned fully clothed. He sat in a large chair at one end of the suite’s living room while she took another opposite him. Moonves began asking about her career ambitions, and she told him about her writing. 'He was very charming,' she recalled. Moonves began asking personal questions, including questions about whether she was single and her sexual orientation. He offered her wine, which Pallingston accepted, and poured himself a glass, which he drank quickly. 'I was at work, and I didn’t want to be drunk,' she recalled, 'but at the same time I wanted to behave and do what was expected of me.' Then Moonves asked her for a massage. Pallingston crossed the room, and Moonves placed her hands on his neck and shoulders, briefly instructing her on how to do it before telling her to sit back down. 'I guess I was terrible, because he said, "Never mind,"' she recalled. 'He was really frustrated. He said, "Haven’t you ever given a massage to your boyfriends?”' Moonves, appearing irritated, began asking more sexual questions. She recalled him asking if she was afraid of men, and then if she liked powerful men. Frightened and beginning to shake, she said that she did, and Moonves told her to come to him. Pallingston told me that 'it was uncomfortable, but I was trying to act like I was tough and cool, like I could handle it all.' She remembers Moonves saying, 'I could help you with your writing. I could help you, and if you do something nice for me I could do something nice for you.'
"Moonves, she said, then kissed her, shoving his tongue down her throat 'like he was trying to reach my stomach.' Then 'he said, "I want you to suck my cock."' She recalled mumbling 'O.K.,' and Moonves grabbing her head and forcing it onto his penis. 'He kept his clothes on. He had Calvin Klein underpants. He pushed my head down, hard,' she said. 'It was very violent, very aggressive. There was real hostility in it.' Eventually, she said, he told her to lie down on the couch. 'I was really scared and nervous,' she said. 'I started getting a panic attack.' She tried to leave the room, and he told her to sit down. 'I remember sitting in the chair shaking and really messed up,' she said. Moonves began groping her breasts and, she said, 'kept saying, "C’mon, let’s fuck."' Pallingston, who has a history of anxiety and panic attacks, said that her shaking intensified so much that it became clearly visible to Moonves. 'I said, "I can’t do this,"' she told me. "He said, "O.K." He didn’t try to push it.' She collected herself and, after her panic attack subsided, Moonves departed for a meeting. Before leaving, she said, 'He took my hand and shook it and said, "You did a great job."'
Pallingston spent several more days working as Moonves’s assistant, during which, she said, he “was a little gropey, but not much,” occasionally rubbing her shoulders, making her uncomfortable. The following spring, however, after she was assigned to work with Moonves again when he made a similar trip to New York, he immediately offered her wine and began groping her breasts. “His hands were on my neck, and then he started reaching down my bra,” she said. Panicked, Pallingston lied and said that she’d gotten engaged. “I figured it was a way to get him to stop,” she said. Moonves, sounding skeptical, asked whom she was marrying, and she gave a false name. “By this time I was just a little tougher,” she told me. “And that pissed him off.” Moonves grew “cold as ice, hostile, nasty,” she recalled, “because I turned him down.” During the remainder of their time working together, she said, Moonves would bark orders at her, sometimes using obscenities. At one point, he threw a pillow at her to get her attention. On another occasion, he had loud phone sex in front of her. “It was, like, ‘I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna fuck you.’ And I’m just sitting there listening, trying to act like I was all cool.”
The following year, she said, Moonves, then at CBS, was hostile toward Pallingston, when he called the executive she was working for at Warner Bros. As she connected the phone call, she recalled, Moonves ordered her to get the executive on the line, addressing her as “you cunt.” Pallingston told me that her experiences with Moonves worsened a decades-long struggle with anxiety, depression, and controlling her anger. Her career in television “sort of fell apart.” She continued to pursue writing, eventually publishing several books, but abandoned her ambitions of working full-time in television. “It played a number on my head, especially in terms of self-worth, professionally,” she said, of Moonves’s behavior.
"Pallingston said that, for many years, her feelings of shame led her to minimize the story when she recounted it to friends and colleagues. 'I wouldn’t tell people the whole story, or I’d make it sound like we were having an affair,' she told me. 'It was way too embarrassing to be honest about it, because I believed anyone who put themself in that situation was an idiot, or weak.' A former colleague, who worked with Pallingston at Warner Bros. in New York and asked not to be named, said that she remembered being troubled when Pallingston told her, at the time of the first incident, about Moonves’s offer to help her career in exchange for sexual favors. She said that Pallingston stopped short of disclosing whether she complied. Another friend, Deborah Perron, said that shortly after she and Pallingston met, in the fall of 2016, Pallingston told her about Moonves’s proposition over wine and aggressive kissing, but was reluctant to say more. 'It was disturbing,” Perron recalled. “This is within an hour, and he was her boss, and she was scared.' Last year, with the rise of the #MeToo movement, Pallingston recounted the story to Perron in full. 'I said, "Wait a second,"' Pallingston told me. 'I don’t have to be embarrassed.'
"Other women described experiencing various forms of unwanted kissing or touching by Moonves. Deborah Green was a freelance makeup artist regularly working for CBS in the early aughts when she says an encounter with Moonves reduced her work at the network. She was assigned to apply Moonves’s makeup and style his hair ahead of a promotional video shoot. Green had worked with Moonves once before without incident. When she returned with Moonves to his office to remove his makeup, he pointed to his shoulders and asked for a massage. Moonves had complimented a ring on her finger, and she had mentioned that it was a gift from her boyfriend. Green told me that she assumed she had made clear to Moonves that she was not interested in any sort of overture. She was further assured, she said, whenMoonves began asking about her boyfriend.
"Then, catching her off guard, he stood up, turned around, and forcefully grabbed her, kissing her hard. 'He stuck his tongue down my throat,' she told me. 'It was like a forceful hold.' Green recalled shoving Moonves back, shocked. He appeared dismayed and abruptly turned and left, shutting himself in an adjoining bathroom. Shortly afterward, he opened the door and flatly instructed her to 'pack your bags and leave.' Green said she held back tears as she left the building, then cried as she drove from the CBS offices to her home. For several days, Green said, she struggled with whether to report the incident. 'I didn’t want my livelihood to be jeopardized,' she said. Shortly after, she spoke to her father, who confirmed to me that the two discussed the incident and the risks of filing a complaint. Green decided to remain silent. 'Knowing that Les is powerful is why I didn't speak out at the time,' she recalled. 'I was a makeup artist who had no voice.'
"Two weeks later, Green said, she called the CBS employee who usually assigned her work for the company. 'I called and left a message and didn’t get a return call,' she said. She did continue to work for CBS television programs, including its soap operas, but was never hired again by the print-and-publicity department to work with the company’s executives.
"In the late nineteen-eighties, Deborah Morris was a junior executive working at Lorimar. One evening, she told me, Moonves asked her to come to his office to discuss several projects. The two spoke about work matters briefly before Moonves asked, 'What do you want?' Confused, Morris asked what he meant. Moonves, as she recalled the conversation, said, 'You know, where do you live? What kind of stuff do you want?' He mentioned televisions and cars as examples. 'I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t think anybody could be that corrupt,' she said. 'It was something you saw in the movies or on TV. And later I realized this absolutely does exist.'
"Moonves offered her a glass of wine. She declined but he insisted. 'It’s just a little glass of wine. Come on,' she recalled him saying. As Moonves began to drink, Morris, growing nervous, excused herself to get a cigarette from her office. Walking back, she noticed a security guard and thought she could call for help if necessary. 'I went back to his office. What a fool,' she told me. She sat on Moonves’s couch and, 'all of a sudden, he was next to me,' she told me. 'He said, "How about a kiss?" I said no. And he said, "No, come on, how about a kiss? It’s nothing. How about a little kiss?" ” Moonves drew closer to Morris and, she said, 'although he’s not a big person, there was something looming in his actions. He knew how to win people over. And then that would turn very quickly to, if you didn’t give him what he wanted, this threatening feeling from him.' Morris said she then 'bolted.'
"Morris, along with three friends and relatives she confided in at the time, said that Moonves continued his advances over the following months. One night, Morris said, Moonves offered to drive her to her car as they walked out of the office after dark. The two were in his Porsche, with Morris in the passenger seat, when, she said, 'all of a sudden he stops the car and grabs me.' Holding Morris by both shoulders, Moonves pulled her toward him in what she took to be an attempt to force a kiss. 'My left arm swung and hit him across the chest,' she said. 'It was just instinct.' Moonves stopped, appearing momentarily shocked. Morris scrambled out of the car and ran. Immediately after the incident, Morris told her best friend at the time, her sister, and her sister’s husband, what had happened. All three confirmed her account.
"After that encounter, Morris said, Moonves refused to speak to her, and she was frozen out of meetings at Lorimar. 'I was hung out to dry,' she said. 'And that was pretty much the end of my career. I wasn’t going to get a reference.' Morris discussed the possibility of filing a formal complaint against Moonves with acquaintances in the company’s legal and human resources departments without naming her harasser. Both discouraged her. 'Who’s going to believe you? You’re no one,' she recalled her contact in the legal department saying. Morris added, 'And these were both women.' Morris left the entertainment industry and moved to the Bay Area, later taking jobs in technology and health care. Morris said that Moonves’s response to last month’s allegations of sexual abuse, proclaiming his commitment to the principle of 'no means no,' had frustrated her. She had told Moonves no numerous times, but said he continued his advances. 'His statement was incredible. Absolutely incredible. It made me sick,' she told me. 'He’s cunning. He’s calculating. And he’s a predator.'
"In 1990, the writer Linda Silverthorn arrived for a business meeting with Moonves at Warner Bros. at nine in the morning. Silverthorn had recently secured a feature screenwriting credit, for Beverly Hills Brats, a comedy starring Martin Sheen, and was looking for a development deal for further writing projects. Six years earlier, when she was an assistant, and he was a vice-president at Twentieth Century Fox, Moonves had propositioned her, offering to help her career, and the two had consensual sexual encounters in his office over the course of about a month. After he discussed his wife and children during one liaison, Silverthorn said, she stopped the encounters. The two had friendly interactions at industry events in the intervening years, and Silverthorn believed that she could turn to Moonves as a professional contact. She told me that she had made it clear to Moonves that she was inquiring about professional opportunities.
"Silverthorn told me that Moonves shut the door, took several swigs of coffee, grabbed her, and pulled her up from the chair where she was seated. Before making conversation, 'he kissed me while we were standing up. Coffee was on his breath,' she recalled. 'And then he just pulled his penis out' and moved it towards her hand. Silverthorn, who was in a long-term, committed relationship at the time, said she was in shock. She said that she 'manually manipulated him, and just got it over with.' Afterward, she said, Moonves told her the studio didn’t have any opportunities for her. She departed the meeting and never contacted Moonves again. 'It was unwelcome, it was unwanted,' she said. Their encounters, six years earlier, she told me, didn’t 'allow him to just grab me and pull his penis out on me when I’m there for a legitimate business meeting at nine o’clock.'
"Silverthorn said that she had struggled with whether to report the incident in order to protect others from what she thought was a practiced routine. She told several people over the years and discussed with her daughter the possibility of speaking publicly. 'She was disturbed by what went down,' her daughter, Persephanie, a clinical psychologist, told me. 'She was active in screenwriting at the time. It was a completely professional meeting, and that was completely unprofessional behavior.'
"Other new allegations against Moonves relate to women who worked with him as massage therapists. Two former senior members of the staff at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., told me that, in the late nineties and early aughts, massage therapists at its spa repeatedly complained of sexual misconduct by Moonves. 'I just remember he always had to have a female; it always had to be in his suite,' Debra Williams, the spa director at the time, told me. 'And it was quite a few times that those women would come back and say, "I’m never going up there again."' The massage therapists, who worked as contractors, told Williams that Moonves would remove his towel, expose himself, and proposition them. 'They would come to me in my office just kind of shaken,' she recalled. She said that she struggled with what to do, given Moonves’s position and prominence in the entertainment industry. 'I was, like, "Damn, this guy runs CBS. This is a big deal,"' she told me. Eventually, Williams said, she reported Moonves to the hotel’s rooms director at the time, who asked to remain anonymous but confirmed that Moonves had been the subject of the complaints. (His wife also recalled him mentioning the matter at the time.) The rooms director said that he contacted Moonves and warned him that, if the behavior didn’t stop, 'We’re not gonna be able to offer you services anymore.'
"Deborah Kitay, who formerly worked as a massage therapist in Los Angeles, told me that Moonves harassed her when she gave him massages at his office and home in the late nineties. 'Bottom line is, every time I went in there for about a year and a half to two years, he would ask me to work higher up his leg in a way that was clearly sexual,' she told me. On one occasion, she said, as she drew closer to his penis, he asked her to 'touch it.' On another, Moonves threw off the sheet covering him and exposed himself to her. She said she repeatedly told Moonves that she didn’t 'do that kind of work,' and brought up his wife in the hope that it would discourage him. She said that Moonves continued to proposition her, until she told him that she was attracted to women. 'I’m actually bisexual,' she said, 'but I thought if I told him that, he’d leave me alone. And it worked.' She called the experience 'very stressful,' but said that she always stopped short of terminating their sessions, fearing that the fallout from embarrassing Moonves might harm her career. Kitay told her romantic partner at the time, Jael Greenleaf, who remembered Kitay raising the issue repeatedly over the course of several months. 'She was upset by it, and sort of flabbergasted.' Kitay also called her brother David, a film composer, about the situation. Moonves 'did all kinds of things that made her feel very uncomfortable,' David recalled. 'It was offensive and disgusting and sad.'
"Kitay told me that her experience with Moonves caused her to decline further work on male clients, and ultimately contributed to her decision to leave massage therapy. Years later, she was convicted of a count of wire fraud for participating in a deceptive real-estate scheme. Knowing that her criminal history might be publicized, Kitay only stepped forward when she heard about Moonves’s statements regarding consent. 'It was a weekly thing,” she said of Moonves’s alleged sexual advances. “And I said no every time.'
"In the weeks since the disclosure of earlier allegations against Moonves and complaints about a broader culture of harassment at CBS, a tense atmosphere has emerged in parts of the company, employees told me. At CBS News, the situation has been particularly fraught, with employees being asked to speak to law-firm investigators as their superiors, accused of misconduct, continue to work at the company.
"Last month, six former employees said that Jeff Fager, the 60 Minutes executive producer and former CBS News chairman, had touched employees at company parties in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Others said that Fager protected men accused of misconduct, including men who reported to him. CBS announced that Fager would remain in his current position until an investigation by an outside law firm was completed. In a speech to staff last month after returning from vacation, Fager addressed the allegations. In a statement for this story, Fager said, 'I have encouraged everyone at 60 Minutes to speak to the lawyers reviewing our culture with the hope that our entire staff would have a voice, and the truth would come out about our workplace. It was at the center of my talk to the staff when we returned from vacation because I believe that a fair and open investigation will determine 60 Minutes is a good place where talented women and men thrive and produce some of the finest broadcast journalism in America.'
"In a new allegation against Fager, Sarah Johansen, a producer who was an intern at CBS in the late aughts, said that he groped her at a work party. Johansen told me that she felt compelled to speak because she simply 'can’t believe he’s back there.' Johansen told me that, when she was growing up, outside a small town in Denmark, 'I had really idolized 60 Minutes since I was young. I can’t possibly overstate how much it meant to me, even just to be an intern.' She said that, upon arriving at the program, she was thrilled by the work but troubled by the culture. Like several others, she used the term 'boy’s club' to describe the atmosphere. 'I really felt like this was one of the most sexist places I’ve ever worked,' she said.
"Johansen said that she had contact with Fager on only two occasions. The first, she said, was at a work party at a bar near the CBS News offices in Manhattan. She was in a group of co-workers when, 'all of a sudden, I felt a hand on my ass,' she said. 'The hand belonged to an arm which belonged to Jeff Fager.' Another producer told her it was colloquially referred to by women on the team as 'the Fager arm,' which several said they were mindful to avoid at parties. 'I was shocked,' Johansen said. 'His hand should not be anywhere near his intern’s ass.' She said the contact was 'more like a stroke. It wasn’t just a "Hey, what’s up?"’ She didn’t think Fager was propositioning her, and interpreted the move as 'a power trip.' She told me, 'When he grabbed my ass, it was just, like, "Welcome to 60 Minutes. You’re one of us now."' She recalled making eye contact with Fager, laughing and walking away quickly. But she was troubled enough by the incident that, shortly afterward, she told a male producer, who corroborated her story. On the one other occasion when Johansen interacted with Fager directly, she and a fellow-intern invited him to lunch. She was excited that he accepted. 'What does that say about me that he does that and then I still say, Ohh, I want to have lunch with the big boss?' she asked. 'I hate myself for that. But I just wanted to be a producer.' Fager declined to comment on the allegation.
"The initial allegations also included claims by nineteen current and former employees that Fager had tolerated harassment in the division. A number described the environment at 60 Minutes under Fager’s leadership as 'a frat house.' One producer, Habiba Nosheen, said that the program had a Mad Men culture. She and several others said that senior male members of the 60 Minutes team asked about their sex lives and suggested they flirt with sources. One former employee said older male producers at the show greeted her by kissing her on the mouth and touching her rear end, and told me that Fager 'seemed to encourage' the climate.
"The board appointed two law firms, Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton, to investigate the allegations against Moonves. A number of individuals whom the firms have asked to interview said that they were concerned about the independence of the two firms, given the large amount of legal work they do for CBS. 'If you knew how much money these firms were making from the mergers and acquisitions and the business side of CBS, there’s no way you’d think they’re impartial,' one former executive who occupied senior positions on the CBS and Viacom legal teams told me. (Representatives for both law firms declined to comment.)
"The sources familiar with the board’s current discussions said that one point of contention was the portion of Moonves’s exit package that could be 'clawed back' if investigators find that he committed misconduct. They said that, at most, half of Moonves’s pay could be withdrawn. Golden-Gottlieb, one of several women in this story who has volunteered to speak to investigators, said that she had little faith that Moonves would face meaningful consequences. 'He’s going to get away with it,' she told me. 'But I want to be there. I’m not going to be a shadow anymore.'”
An early review of Julia Roberts' new series Homecoming: "At first glance, Homecoming seems to be a cocktail of buzzwords. Take one part transmedia origin story ('based on the popular Gimlet Media podcast…'), add one part movie star trying her hand at television (Julia Roberts), mix well with an established TV auteur (Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail), and serve. In practice, however, those ostensibly disparate elements come together to make sharp slices of truly eerie drama. Even when it gets a little too mesmerized by its own stylistic trickery, it’s hard not to get sucked in by Homecoming’s haunting mission creep.
"The new Amazon series from podcast creators Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz follows the shady practices of a mysterious center that advertises itself as a resource for helping combat veterans assimilate to civilian life. Counselor Heidi Bergman (Roberts) appears to have a genuine interest in helping her patients, most especially amiable newcomer Walter Cruz (Stephan James). But much to her frustration and growing alarm, she constantly has to justify treating them like actual people instead of lab rats to her impatient boss Colin (Bobby Cannavale, cannily weaponizing his signature smirk), who’s convinced he can mine valuable data from the depths of their trauma.
"Structurally, Homecoming follows the audio drama’s lead. Most of the action takes place in or around the Homecoming center, while a parallel mystery unfolds in a future timeline where the program hasn’t just collapsed, but looks to have disappeared altogether. As a suspicious Department of Defense employee (Shea Whigham) digs into its history, he confronts Heidi, who’s now working as a waitress at a diner and insisting she knows nothing. Intrigue ensues.
"The podcast relied on Heidi’s session recordings and phone calls in order to keep the story together, but bringing it to television necessitated giving it a distinct visual language. Esmail and his team, many of whom are alums of Mr. Robot, tackle the challenge with clear enthusiasm and meticulous design. Esmail, who directs every episode, uses his signature long takes and off-center framing shots to disquieting effect, adding Hitchcockian angles and close-ups to emphasize the story’s inching horror.
"As with Mr. Robot, Esmail’s inclination to pull every directing trick out of his hat can become overwhelming. But with each episode limited to a half -hour — a welcome subversion of streaming series’ increasingly bloated run -times — there’s simply less room for superfluous indulgence.
"It helps, too, that the cast is solid enough to keep the show feeling grounded in reality. James is excellent, especially when Walter’s steadfast determination to just go with the flow gets complicated by his old friend Schrier (Jeremy Allen White) insisting that something about Homecoming is seriously off. Dermot Mulroney and Sissy Spacek don’t get quite as much material as Heidi’s clingy boyfriend and skeptical mother, but each makes a meals out of every morsel they get.
"Roberts, for her part, turns in a much more understated performance than one might expect of her first big TV role. Yet her intrinsic warmth nonetheless imbues Heidi with a palpable protective streak that keeps the character from feeling as obscured by all the mysterious forces surrounding her as she very easily could.
"With a detailed road map in its source material, a deep bench of talent in its cast, and a director making specific choices to heighten the sinister vibe, Homecoming has far more going for it than not. The question becomes whether it can tie together its multiplying mysteries by season’s end without getting too enamored of its own daring."
From Vulture: "Every successful Netflix show doesn’t a merit a follow-up. Take the second season of American Vandal, which attempts to replicate the mix of true-crime satire, low-brow humor, and insight into contemporary teendom that made season one such a critically acclaimed winner. Unfortunately, it can’t quite manage it.
"Season two follows pretty much the same template as the first: The series, co-created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, follows teen documentarians Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) as they attempt to figure out who committed several pranks/crimes at a high school where everyone’s a potential suspect. But while last season’s investigation unfolded at the public Hanover High, the same Southern California school Peter and Sam attend, this season they pursue a special project that takes them to St. Bernardine, a private Catholic school in Bellevue, Washington, where an incident referred to as the 'Brown Out' has recently occurred.
"The Brown Out highlights one of my issues with the second season of American Vandal: the fact that it’s full of shit. I mean, actual, literal shit. The Brown Out is the first in a series of heinous acts committed by an anonymous figure dubbed the Turd Burglar, who pours a heavy-duty laxative into the school cafeteria’s lemonade dispenser and causes a large percentage of the student population to come down with a ferocious and instantaneous case of diarrhea. There aren’t enough toilets in the school to accommodate all those disturbed bowels, so kids are forced to drop their pants and unload into trash cans, lockers, even the middle of the hall. It is a gross scene and, as the catalyst for everything that happens next in the series, one that American Vandal returns to repeatedly. Everything the Turd Burglar does — creating poop-filled piñatas, filling pep rally T-shirt cannons with dry cat turds — involves feces. Those who have an affinity for explicit scatological humor may find all this hilarious. Personally, it made me miss the refined sophistication of season one’s dick jokes.
"As was the case in the first American Vandal, one student is quickly accused of being the culprit, and Peter and Sam just as quickly begin to poke holes in that theory while considering who else might be responsible. This time, Vandal’s wrongly accused man takes the form of Kevin McClain, the know-it-all twist on season one’s unfairly accused no-nothing lunkhead Dylan Maxwell. Kevin is a very specific type of oddball, the kind who’s obsessed with various types of tea, including the proper way to slurp them, and proud to be called the Fruit Ninja because of his willingness to karate-chop at produce that his classmates lob in his face. In short, this kid could have sauntered straight out of a Wes Anderson film and into this show. He’s played by Travis Tope (formerly Joe Harper on Boardwalk Empire) with such a commitment to Kevin’s idiosyncratic obnoxiousness that he emerges as the most interesting character in the season.
"Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much competition in that regard. In terms of personalities and situations, you can sense the writers stretching to repeat what came so naturally to them in season one. That doesn’t mean they never manage to excel at being utterly absurd. Example: the aforementioned poop piñata, which is actually a piñata of Kurt Vonnegut, created annually by English teacher Mrs. Montgomery (Sarah Burns) as part of a day-long celebration of the author’s birthday. The accusation that Kevin is responsible for that, too, sparks this zinger of a line from Kevin’s grandmother: 'He didn’t know how the poop got into the Vonnegut piñata! But they still made him write a confession about how he put the poop in Vonnegut’s shoulder.'
"Later, when Mrs. Montgomery discusses her admiration for the school’s star basketball player and biggest man on campus, DeMarcus Tillman (Melvin Gregg), she cluelessly goes into full white savior mode. 'I think of myself as being Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side,' she says proudly. 'I feel so connected to my students, the same way she was connected to … the black kid in that movie.'
"Tillman gets an increasing amount of attention as the suspicion begins to shift toward him, implying that season two of American Vandal might surprise us with some insight into the coddling of school athletes in the same way season one indicted public school systems for pigeonholing students. For a few minutes, you might even say the series turns into Hoop Dreams — or is it Poop Dreams? It doesn’t quite go that way, though, pivoting again and again as Peter and Sam follow new leads and clues that feel increasingly contrived.
"When the eight episodes finally reach their conclusion, they do so on an almost cheery, didactic note that feels totally out of sync with the show’s sensibility. What made American Vandal so remarkable the first time around was that it took one kid’s immature obsession with dick jokes, treated his punishment as though it were a national tragedy, then made us care so much about the mystery behind his treatment that, by the end, what happened to Dylan Maxwell actually did feel kind of tragic. The second American Vandal, while amusing here and there, isn’t able to do all that. It recycles the same template, but can’t quite convince viewers to invest in everything that transpires at St. Bernardine. To put it another way: American Vandal season two tried its best, but ultimately, I found it hard to give a shit about it."