By Max Godnick
The Les Moonves era is over at CBS. Well ー sort of.
The now-former chief's wife Julie Chen remains the host of both network series "Big Brother" and "The Talk." So even after his resignation as CEO on Sunday, Les Moonves still has a presence at CBS, if only in a spousal sense.
While Chen skipped Monday's season nine premiere of "The Talk" to "be with my family," the veteran newswoman will resume her hosting duties on CBS's long-running "Big Brother" on Thursday evening.
"She's really involved in a lot of the shows on CBS," associate editor of Vulture Jackson McHenry said Tuesday in an interview on Cheddar. "She's a recognizable face."
Chen, who married Moonves in 2004, has hosted "Big Brother" since its U.S. debut in 2000; she is longest-tenured host of any of the show's global versions. She has moderated and co-hosted "The Talk" since its premiere in 2010 and helped the show eclipse its rival, ABC's "The View," in the ratings. Before launching the program, Chen anchored and co-hosted the "CBS Morning News," and "CBS This Morning," and "The Early Show."
During Monday's premiere of "The Talk," Chen's co-hosts did address the news of Moonves's departure. Sharon Osbourne said on-air of her former boss: "Obviously the man has a problem." Sheryl Underwood and Sara Gilbert offered their encouragement to Chen during the program, but also urged viewers to take the matter seriously and support Moonves's accusers.
"It feels like they are kind of hedging about how much Julie might know or where her position may fall," McHenry said of Chen's co-hosts.
Did Chen know about her husband's transgressions? McHenry said it's unclear.
"It's very hard to believe that someone as intimately connected both with Les Moonves and with CBS as a company wouldn't hear about this," he said.
Since news broke in July that Moonves and CBS faced sexual harassment and intimidation allegations from six women, Chen has only issued one brief statement about the claims against her husband. She said she supports his statement that he never abused his position to "harm or hinder anyone's career."
The New Yorker on Sunday published a follow-up piece detailing the accusations of another six victims. Hours later, CBS announced Moonves would exit the company. The matter of his severance is still unresolved, but he stands to make up to $120 million, pending results of an investigation.
As the entertainment community adjusts to handling prominent men accused in the #MeToo era, it must also grapple with the fate of their wives. Chen draws close parallels to Georgina Chapman, Harvey Weinstein's estranged wife and the co-founder of high-end fashion label Marchesa. Much like Chen, Chapman's success has been closely tied to her ex-husband. Marchesa established itself as a red carpet mainstay, frequently worn by actresses closely linked to Weinstein and his projects.
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