October 6, 1949 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bucknell University|
|Occupation||President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation
Director at ZeniMax Media
|Salary||$69.9M in 2011 (includes other compensation)|
|Spouse(s)||Nancy Wiesenfeld (1978-2004)
Julie Chen (2004)
Moonves served as co-president and co-chief operating officer of Viacom, Inc., the predecessor to CBS Corporation, from 2004 until the company split on December 31, 2005. Prior to that he had been in a series of executive positions for CBS since July 1995. Moonves has also been a Director at ZeniMax Media since 1999.
Early life 
Moonves was born to a Jewish family in New York City, the son of Josephine (Schleifer) and Herman Moonves, and grew up in Valley Stream, New York. He attended Valley Stream Central High School and went to Bucknell University, graduating in 1971. In his sophomore year he realized he hated the sciences, so he switched his major to Spanish and acted in a few plays.
Business career 
Moonves had previous upper management experience early in his business career. He was in charge of first-run syndication and pay/cable programming at 20th Century Fox Television. Another position he held at 20th Century Fox Television was Vice President of movies and mini-series. Other previous positions he held include Vice President of development at Saul Ilson Productions (in association with Columbia Pictures Television) and a development executive for Catalina Productions.
Lorimar Television and Warner Brothers Television 
Moonves joined Lorimar Television in 1985 as executive in charge of its movies and mini-series, and in 1988, became head of creative affairs. From 1989 to 1993, he was President at Lorimar. Then in July 1993, he became President/CEO of Warner Bros. Television, when Warner Bros. and Lorimar Television combined operations. While Moonves was president/CEO of Warner Bros. Television, he green-lighted the hit shows Friends and ER, among many others.
He joined CBS in July 1995 as president of CBS Entertainment. From April 1998 until 2003, he was President and Chief Executive Officer at CBS Television, then was promoted to Chairman and CEO of CBS in 2003. He oversees all operations of the company, including the CBS Television Network, The CW (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment), CBS Television Stations, CBS Television Studios, CBS Television Distribution, Showtime, CBS Radio, CBS Records, CBS Outdoor, Simon & Schuster, CBS Interactive, CBS Consumer Products, CBS Home Entertainment, CBS Outernet and CBS Films. During this time (2003), CBS became America's most watched television network, going from last to first.
Among the shows that have given CBS a new lease on life is the CSI franchise and Survivor. CBS had six of the ten most-watched primetime shows in the final quarter of 2005: CSI, Without a Trace, CSI: Miami, Survivor: Guatemala, NCIS, and Cold Case.
In February 2005, Moonves was identified as the executive directly responsible for ordering the cancellation of UPN's Star Trek: Enterprise and the ending of the 18-year Star Trek television franchise.
On February 28, 2006, Moonves led CBS to file a $500 million lawsuit against Howard Stern for allegedly breaching his contract by failing to disclose the details of his deal with Sirius Satellite Radio while still employed by Infinity Broadcasting. Stern vowed to fight the suit, and claimed on his radio program that Moonves and CBS were trying to "bully" him and his agent, Don Buchwald. Stern later appeared on CBS' own Late Show with David Letterman, wearing a shirt mocking Leslie and his wife. On June 7, 2006, Stern announced that the lawsuit had been settled. As part of the settlement, Sirius acquired the exclusive rights to all of the WXRK tapes (over two decades worth of shows) for $2 million.
ZeniMax Media 
Moonves has served on the board of ZeniMax Media since its foundation in 1999, alongside his friend and ZeniMax President Ernest Del. Moonves' investment in the company has been noted, as well as his appearances at several launch parties, most notably for Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Rage.
Acting career 
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
In his early career, Moonves was an actor. He landed a few television roles, playing tough guys on Cannon and The Six Million Dollar Man before deciding on a career change. He also worked as one of casting director Caro Jones' first office assistants early in her career.
On April 7, 2003, Moonves portrayed himself in an episode of The Practice.
From early 2004, Moonves has made regular contributions to Late Show with David Letterman. One of these appearances was provoked by David Letterman himself when he declared outrage that Jay Leno was featured prominently on the CBS website in an ad for CBS' telecast of the People's Choice Awards. On the Late Show, Letterman jokingly warned the "CBS stooge in the control room" to call his buddies "before things turn ugly." Leslie obliged. Later appearances have taken the same format, with Letterman discussing current events and the CBS network with the company's CEO.
Personal life 
In 1978, Moonves married Nancy Wiesenfeld (m. Dec 17, 1978, div. 2004) with whom he has three children. In April 2003, Nancy Moonves filed for divorce in L.A. Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. Nancy and Les Moonves were already living apart.
In 2004, although his divorce from Nancy was not yet finalized, Les Moonves began dating CBS' The Early Show reporter Julie Chen. On December 10, 2004, Moonves got a court to grant an early divorce. Tired of waiting, Moonves' motion cited a "desire to return to the status of being single". Moonves foresaw a lengthy trial to settle the property and other issues. He argued that "terminating the marital status will aid in promoting settlement of this matter", and the judge gave his request the stamp of approval—leaving the divorce's alimony, child support and property division details to be determined later—so he could remarry. Just 13 days later in Mexico, he married television and news personality Julie Chen. On September 24, 2009, Chen gave birth to a son, Charlie.
- "Leslie Moonves Interview". "Archive of American Television".
- "CBS’ Les Moonves Lands $69.9M In Compensation For 2011, Up 21%". Deadline.com. 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
- "Biography from CBS Corporation website".
- CNN Money: "Leslie Moonves's Role of a Lifetime. The former actor excels at spotting talent and picking shows. Now he has to sell Wall Street on CBS stock" By Devin Leonard April 10, 2006 |"Moonves joked afterward. "You know, this is my tenth time playing Carnegie Hall. I believe that is a new record for a Jew without an instrument."
- Moonves '71 honored for TV industry contributions from the Bucknell University website
- Leslie Moonves's Role of a Lifetime Money via CNN.com. Retrieved April 10, 2006.
- Bill Carter (journalist) (August 18, 1998). "CBS Fills President's Post At Entertainment Division". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-22. "CBS named Nancy Tellem president of the network's entertainment division yesterday, the position vacated in April by her longtime associate, Leslie Moonves, who is now the chief executive of CBS Television."
- "UPN Cancels 'Star Trek: Enterprise'". Trektoday.com. February 2, 2005. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
- Leslie Moonves at the Internet Movie Database
- Barnes, Mike (2009-09-10). "Casting director Caro Jones dies". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-09-20.[dead link]
- "NY Daily News – Daily Dish – Rush & Molloy: Moonves' marriage may get an airing" from the New York Daily News Archive copy at the Wayback Machine Originally published on April 23, 2003 and Retrieved on June 19, 2008
- Interfaith Family: "Interfaith Celebrities: The Talk's Hosts and David Schwimmers Bride" By Nate Bloom October 26, 2010 |"Moonves, who is Jewish, began an affair with Chen while still married to his first (Jewish) wife, who is the mother of his three older children"
- "Moonves' Marriage May Get An Airing".
- "'Big Brother' host Julie Chen marries CBS president Les Moonves". Realitytvworld.com. December 29, 2004. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
- "It's a Boy for Julie Chen". CBS News. 2009-09-24.
- "Throng Thrills to Thomashefsky's Titillating Tales".
- JSpace: "All in the Family: Les Moonves is Grandnephew of Ben Gurion October 6, 2011
|President of CBS