CBS announced Julie Chen's husband, Leslie Moonves, out at the network on Sunday

By Natalie Stone
September 10, 2018 03:26 PM
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Season 9 of The Talk premiered on Monday, but without one of its regular faces: Julie Chen.

“I am taking a few days off from The Talk to be with my family,” Chen, 48, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother,” continued Chen, who also hosts Big Brother.

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“It’s a bittersweet day for us. … We’re about to talk about something that affects everybody’s lives here at CBS,” co-host Sharon Osbourne said on the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “And I’ve never been nervous in my life, but I’m kind of very nervous right now. As you all know, Julie’s husband is in the news and she’s taking off time to be with her family.”

The co-host’s absence comes one day after CBS announced Sunday that Chen’s husband, CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, was out at the network following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. They have been married since 2004 and share one son together, 8-year-old Charlie.

CBS and Moonves, 68, “will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace,” CBS said, adding that the donation will be made immediately.

“Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits),” the network said, explaining that any future payments are contingent upon investigations into the allegations against Moonves and the board’s approval.

Moonves will be temporarily replaced by chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello, the network said.

“For the past 24 years it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS’s renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company. The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed,” he said in a statement to Variety. “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.”

In a Ronan Farrow piece published hours earlier by The New Yorker, six additional women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault, including forced oral sex, exposing himself without consent, and the use of physical violence and intimidation to keep them quiet. The women said the incidents took place between the 1980s and early 2000s, Farrow reported.

“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS,” Moonves said in a statement to The New Yorker, reportedly declining to indicate which of the encounters he believed were consensual. “And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.”

In Farrow’s first piece on Moonves, published July 27, six women — including actress Illeana Douglas and writer Janet Jones — who professionally dealt with Moonves between the 1980s and late aughts accused him of sexual misconduct.

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In a statement to The New Yorker in July, Moonves admitted to acting inappropriately in the past.

“Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” he said.

“Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution,” he continued.

Chen defended her husband on Twitter following the first round of allegations in July.

“I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late ’90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years. Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader,” she tweeted.