USC reeval­u­ates ties to Moonves

Film school sus­pends CBS chief from its board. Stu­dent news cen­ter re­moves his name, at his re­quest.

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Meg James meg.james @la­ Twit­ter: @MegJamesLA­T

USC School of Cin­e­matic Arts on Wed­nes­day sus­pended em­bat­tled CBS Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Les­lie Moonves from the school’s board shortly af­ter the univer­sity’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions school said it was tem­po­rar­ily re­mov­ing Moonves’ name from its cut­ting-edge stu­dent news­room.

“The school takes the re­cent al­le­ga­tions very se­ri­ously and will dis­cuss fur­ther ac­tion when the board con­venes in October,” USC School of Cin­e­matic Arts said in a state­ment.

The USC An­nen­berg School for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Jour­nal­ism’s high-tech news lab has been called the Julie Chen/Les­lie Moonves CBS Me­dia Cen­ter since it opened in 2015. USC An­nen­berg said that Moonves, who is fac­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions, and his wife, Chen, who is the host of the pop­u­lar CBS day­time show “The Talk,” had re­quested the move. Chen is an alumna of the jour­nal­ism school.

“In recog­ni­tion of the sen­si­tiv­i­ties sur­round­ing re­cent al­le­ga­tions against Mr. Moonves, he and Ms. Chen have re­quested that USC An­nen­berg tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend use of the me­dia cen­ter’s name un­til the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cludes,” USC An­nen­berg said in a state­ment.

Other scan­dals have forced USC to dis­en­tan­gle it­self from re­la­tion­ships with Hol­ly­wood fig­ures in the wake of the #MeToo move­ment. In October, the School of Cin­e­matic Arts re­jected a $5-mil­lion pledge from dis­graced mogul Har­vey We­in­stein, who has faced ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual as­sault by dozens of women. We­in­stein has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

In De­cem­ber, the school re­moved Bryan Singer’s name from a cam­pus build­ing af­ter the “X-Men” di­rec­tor and USC alum­nus was ac­cused in a law­suit of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a 17-year-old boy at a party more than a decade ago. Singer has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Los An­ge­les County pros­e­cu­tors on Tues­day said they had de­clined to press charges against Moonves af­ter a woman came for­ward late last year and ac­cused the tele­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tive of forc­ing her to par­tic­i­pate in sex acts in 1986 and 1988. The statute of lim­i­ta­tions had ex­pired, so the case was dropped.

On Fri­day, the New Yorker pub­lished a re­port al­leg­ing that Moonves sex­u­ally ha­rassed six women dat­ing back more than a decade. The most high-pro­file was ac­tress Il­leana Dou­glas, 53, who has ap­peared in HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and such films as “Good­fel­las.” She al­leged that Moonves pinned her on a couch and be­gan “vi­o­lently kiss­ing her” dur­ing a meet­ing in his of­fice in 1997 when she was cast in a net­work pi­lot. She lost her job on the pi­lot, which was never picked up. She said Moonves was so in­fu­ri­ated at her that he told her she would “never work at this net­work again.” Dou­glas later had other roles on CBS shows.

CBS said that Moonves said he tried to kiss the ac­tress but de­nied as­sault­ing her.

Moonves has ac­knowl­edged mis­takes, say­ing that he “may have made some women un­com­fort­able by mak­ing ad­vances.” But he added, “I have never mis­used my po­si­tion to harm or hin­der any­one’s ca­reer.”

On Mon­day, CBS’ board of di­rec­tors said it would hire an out­side law firm to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the New Yorker re­port.

CBS has been try­ing to con­tain fall­out from the al­le­ga­tions, which threaten the ten­ure of Moonves, who has run CBS Corp. since 2006 and has led the broad­cast net­work since 1995. CBS’ stock on Wed­nes­day fell 12 cents, or less than a per­cent, to $52.55.

USC has been em­broiled in scan­dals of its own. Last year, The Times re­ported that the univer­sity kept a hard-par­ty­ing doc­tor in charge of its med­i­cal school, and op­er­at­ing on pa­tients, de­spite his per­sonal issues. The univer­sity ul­ti­mately sev­ered ties with Dr. Car­men Pu­li­afito, who has since lost his med­i­cal li­cense.

Dur­ing the med­i­cal li­cense hear­ing in July, Pu­li­afito and his at­tor­ney said the doc­tor suf­fered from bipo­lar dis­or­der and a “hy­po­manic” state that poi­soned his judg­ment.

Then, in May, The Times re­ported that a gy­ne­col­o­gist who had been treat­ing USC pa­tients for three decades was ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing scores of women. The univer­sity paid a set­tle­ment to the gy­ne­col­o­gist, Dr. Ge­orge Tyn­dall, to get him to leave the univer­sity. Fe­male pa­tients were not in­formed of the al­leged mis­con­duct sur­round­ing that doc­tor, which in­cluded claims that he pho­tographed pa­tients’ gen­i­tals and touched women in­ap­pro­pri­ately dur­ing pelvic ex­ams.

Tyn­dall has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

The most re­cent con­tro­versy sparked wide­spread out­rage on cam­pus and among donors, and there were de­mands that the univer­sity pres­i­dent, Max Nikias, must go. The em­bat­tled pres­i­dent said in May that he would step down.

Other groups also have dis­tanced them­selves from Moonves. Bucknell Univer­sity has re­moved some ref­er­ences on its web­site to alum­nus Moonves in the wake of the al­le­ga­tions. The Com­mis­sion on Elim­i­nat­ing Sex­ual Ha­rass­ment and Ad­vanc­ing Equal­ity in the Work­place also said that Moonves had re­cused him­self as one of its com­mis­sion­ers, ac­cord­ing to Dead­line.

Katie Falken­berg Los An­ge­les Times

USC’S SCHOOL of Cin­e­matic Arts has been forced to dis­en­tan­gle it­self from Hol­ly­wood fig­ures in the wake of the #MeToo move­ment.

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