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CBS names new interim chairman as investigations continue

Zelnick, CEO of the video game company Take Two Interactive, will be in charge of dealing with legal issues stemming from the departure of former chairman and CEO, Leslie Moonves.
Strauss Zelnick
Strauss Zelnick in Los Angeles in June 2011.Danny Moloshok / Reuters file

CBS has appointed Strauss Zelnick as its new interim chairman, the company confirmed in a statement on Sunday.

Zelnick, CEO of the video game company Take Two Interactive, takes over from Richard Parsons, who said he is stepping down because of his health.

"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," Parsons said in a statement. "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."

Zelnick became CEO of Take-Two in 2007 after stints as chief operating officer of 20th Century Fox and CEO of music company BMG Entertainment. Take-Two owns a variety of different video game production companies including Rockstar, make of the landmark "Grand Theft Auto."

Zelnick will now be in charge of dealing with the legal issues facing CBS in the wake of the departure of former chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves in September.

The board must grapple with legal probes into allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves and whether sexual misconduct was tolerated at the company, which houses the CBS TV network, Showtime, and publisher Simon & Schuster, among other assets.

CBS is also cooperating with other inquiries into misconduct allegations at the company by the New York State attorney general's office and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, as well as a request for information from the Manhattan district attorney's office.

The board will also have to decide whether to give Moonves any severance pay once it receives a report from the two outside law firms that are investigating the company's culture as well as the misconduct allegations against Moonves. Moonves has denied any wrongdoing.

The CBS board is also conducting a search for a new chief executive. Its current interim CEO, Joseph Ianniello, has been aggressive in remaking the CBS management lineup since his promotion from chief operating officer. Ianniello appointed Showtime CEO David Nevins as chief creative officer of CBS and Christina Spade as chief financial officer. CBS also named a new head of human resources, Laurie Rosenfield, and promoted Dana McClintock to chief communications officer.

CBS has also moved to more aggressively look into the complaints. The firm put Vincent Favale, senior vice president of talent relations, on leave and said it was looking into allegations into his behavior.

The company also ended its deal with Brad Kern, a veteran consulting producer on "NCIS: New Orleans," after it received complaints.

The company is set to hold its annual shareholder meeting on Dec. 11.