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Richard Parsons Steps Down From CBS Board, Role As Interim Chair

Richard Parsons has resigned from the CBS Corp board of directors, including his role as interim chairman which he undertook following the departure of Les Moonves. Parsons in a press release issued Sunday cited health reasons related to his fight with multiple myeloma. The CBS board met this evening and tapped Strauss Zelnick to assume the interim chairman post, a decision the board said was unanimous.

“The reason for my departure relates to the state of my health,” Parsons said in the release announcing the decision. “As some of you know, when I agreed to join the board and serve as the interim chair, I was already dealing with a serious health challenge – multiple myeloma – but I felt that the situation was manageable. Unfortunately, unanticipated complications have created additional new challenges, and my doctors have advised that cutting back on my current commitments is essential to my overall recovery.

“I trust CBS’ distinguished Board, now led by Strauss Zelnick, as well as CBS’ strong management team led by Joe Ianniello, will continue to successfully guide this Company into its very bright future.”

Zelnick assumes the role immediately. The industry veteran has had leadership roles at 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and BMG Entertainment, and is currently CEO and chairman of  Take-Two Interactive Software.

Parsons, the Time Warner CEO from 2002-2007, was unanimously appointed to interim CBS chairman in September following Moonves’ resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct over the years. Parsons had been an advisor to controlling shareholder Shari Redstone as she and her National Amusements holding company navigated a bruising battle with Moonves over control of CBS Corp.

The Brooklyn-bred lawyer Parsons, who also had career stints working for the Rockefeller family and turning around New York’s Dime Savings Bank, is known for his affability and diplomatic skills. After Time Warner he was chairman of Citigroup in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and was interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers after controversy forced the team’s longtime owner Donald Sterling to resign and sell the team.

CBS Corp, meanwhile, has been fortifying its executive ranks under Ianniello, who was chosen by a revamped board as interim CEO after Moonves’ exit. His recent moves have included promoting Showtime’s David Nevins to a broad chief creative officer role. He then made Showtime’s Christina Spade CFO, Laurie Rosenfield chief people officer, and tapped Dana McClintock to become communications boss after the retirement of veteran Gil Schwartz.

Wall Street could get some insight into CBS’ next steps November 1, when it reports third-quarter earnings and conducts a conference call with analysts. After that its twice-delayed annual shareholder meeting is December 11.


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