CBS Corporation CEO Leslie Moonves has been named executive chairman of the CBS Board of Directors, following longtime chief Sumner Redstone’s resignation.
“I am honored to accept the chairmanship of this great Company,” Moonves said in a statement. “I want to thank Sumner for his guidance and strong support over all these years. It has meant the world to me.”
Redstone is now chairman emeritus, the company said in the statement.
Starting with a mere chain of movie theaters, Redstone built a massive international entertainment and media conglomerate, NPR’s David Folkenflik reports.
“He never had the public profile or political influence of his billionaire counterparts Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch or Mike Bloomberg. But he had the drive to expand to take over CBS and to build Viacom,” David says. His dual empire of CBS and Viacom were split into separate companies in 2006.
Under Redstone’s leadership, CBS acquired properties including MTV, Comedy Central and Showtime. Paramount Pictures is also part of Viacom and the Simon & Schuster publishing house is part of CBS Corp.
While his acumen grew the business, David says Redstone could be petty and obsessive in his dealings, fighting with family members, including his own children.
“Viacom CEO Tom Freston was forced out for a series of perceived failings, most notably his inability to acquire MySpace for Redstone, who coveted it,” David said. He added that when News Corp, which ended up buying MySapce, went on to lose nearly its entire $580 million investment in the social platform, many competitors thought Redstone had been fortunate to sidestep a huge financial headache.
Viacom, where Redstone apparently still holds the post of executive chairman of the board, has not yet responded to NPR’s request for comment.
Redstone has been the subject of a series of legal actions involving a former girlfriend. The Los Angeles Times reports that his former companion, Manuela Herzer, 51, is seeking to have Redstone declared mentally incompetent after she was removed from “her position of authority overseeing the billionaire’s household affairs.” Herzer was also replaced by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman as the person in charge of making medical decisions for Redstone should he become incapacitated.