Before the devastating allegations of sexual misconduct hit, Rose was a legendary man-about-town. Now, the former CBS and PBS star, one of TV’s most feted journalists, is hiding out on Long Island with occasional, mostly disastrous forays into Manhattan: "He’s focusing on trying to understand"
On the night of April 2, Charlie Rose walked into Gabriel's Bar & Restaurant, a Lincoln Center eatery that's popular among New York's media elite. Al Pacino had just left, while the state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who recently filed a civil lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Co., entered only minutes before the arrival of the 76-year-old ex-anchor of CBS This Morning.
Rose, a legendary man-about-town in addition to one of the most iconic broadcast journalists, once exuded an "old-school New York socialite vibe," notes one media executive who has known him for a decade, adding, "When Charlie goes to Michael's, it takes him 10 minutes to get to his table because people come up to him and he always says hello. He's fearless: He'll talk to anybody and he knows everybody."
On this Monday night, however, four months after The Washington Post published devastating allegations of sexual misconduct against Rose, the normally dynamic fixture was in full-on head-down mode. Dressed in a dark suit, Rose projected dishevelment: his hair messy, his notebook's pages askew, his gait shuffling. He headed to his table by himself and completed his dinner alone in under an hour. Previously one to take his time and glad-hand, Rose beat a hasty retreat. Perhaps out of a desire to give a struggling man his space — or worse, as a sign of indifference — no one in the restaurant approached Rose nor seemed to notice him.
Since November — when eight women who worked for (or aspired to work for) the Charlie Rose show accused Rose of sexual harassment — the former PBS and CBS anchor has been at loose ends. After a string of appearances in the gossip pages while attempting to patronize his regular Manhattan watering holes, Rose decamped to his four-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot Long Island home in Bellport, from January through much of March.
THR spoke with more than a dozen of Rose's friends, neighbors and former associates, as well as proprietors of his current hangouts, to piece together what life is like for a media star deposed by harassment claims. Those familiar with Rose's daily schedule believe it now begins as it always did, with a hefty media diet of 10 newspapers delivered to his door and regular exercise. "[Charlie] plays tennis most mornings, which I think keeps him in shape and together," says Daily Beast co-founder and author Tina Brown, who says she has reached out to Rose in recent months.
Bellport, 60 miles from the city and known for its low-key vibe, has become Rose's sanctuary. It has been described as the "un-Hamptons," with Calvin Klein women's creative director Francisco Costa, Princess Alexandra of Greece and Isabella Rossellini — who lives around the corner from Rose and is an occasional dining companion — all owning residences there.
A past Bellport inhabitant who has been a guest describes Rose's $4 million to $6 million property on Great South Bay as enjoying "panoramic views of the water and Fire Island in the distance." He describes Rose's "Grady-White fishing boat … bobbing in the waves in the foreground. I think Amanda [Burden] helped him decorate [the house]."
Burden, Rose's on-and-off-again girlfriend of more than 25 years, is Bloomberg Associates' principal of urban planning and stepdaughter to late CBS founder William Paley. She owns a home nearby, which she purchased in 2012 for $6 million. While a current Bellport resident insists that they're not currently a pair, Rose and Burden attended Sesame Workshop executive Sherrie Westin's Chinese New Year's party in Bronxville in mid-February together.
Despite the safe harbor that Bellport offers (in a Nov. 22 article, editor-publisher Larry Sribnick proclaimed that local online paper Bellport.com "is not going to follow this story. We're going to let Bellport residents have their privacy. We're going to leave them alone"), locals and restaurant workers have been noting Rose's increasingly infrequent public appearances in town. Cafe Castello server Katie McGeehin says he typically comes in alone, either for take-out or to dine solo at his favorite table near the counter.
But since November, he "doesn't come in as much," she says. "He has his housekeeper pick up food now." A regular at The Bellport restaurant for the buttermilk fried chicken with a vodka martini to start, Rose has been in at least once over the past several months with a "load of paperwork, including magazines and newspapers," according to one local who spotted him in March. Across the street and down the block, Victoria Baxter, who works at Bellport Village Bistro, maintains, "[Charlie] is around, he pops up." She last saw him, on his own, in February.
Associates and friends describe Rose's frame of mind with characterizations that range from scorn to concern. "I don't think he thinks he's done anything wrong," says the media executive friend. "He's in complete denial; he thinks he will be back on television." Yet among those who spoke with THR, many believe otherwise. (Rose did not respond to requests for an interview.) "My sense is that Charlie has put [book writing and planning his return to TV] aside for now," says another friend who asked to remain anonymous. "I think he is focusing on trying to understand, [both] events and other people's perception of them."
One of Rose's named accusers, Kyle Godfrey-Ryan — who worked for Charlie Rose in 2003 and 2004 — feels both anger at and sympathy for the man. "I believe he is struggling, and it pains me knowing he is in pain," she says. "Charlie's entire life was defined by who he was as a journalist — and he is one of the best we have ever had … [but] Charlie used his power, at times, to assault many women who worked for him. This pattern went on for almost 30 years," continues Godfrey-Ryan, who says she endured Rose's nudity as well as phone calls expressing his fantasies of seeing her naked in his pool. A recent co-founder of Press Forward — a new initiative that works toward halting sexual harassment and assault in newsrooms — Godfrey-Ryan adds, "I do believe that someone as brilliant as Charlie could have sought help and documented the process. He could have dived into research about the male ego and tried to get to the root of why this pattern of abuse is so common with positions of power. He could have used this moment to change the state-of-play in journalism."
Initially, Rose behaved as if nothing had changed. On Nov. 20, when salacious details of his alleged sexual misconduct surfaced, he issued a Twitter apology that admitted errors in judgment but stopped short of a full mea culpa. "I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior," he wrote. He suggested that he thought any amorous feelings he acted upon were mutual, "even though I now realize I was mistaken," and included a caveat that pundits interpret as a partial denial: "I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate." The allegations included groping buttocks at a staff party, initiating unwanted sexual advances, walking around naked in front of colleagues who were required to work at one of his New York homes and, in one case, forcing a woman to watch a sex scene in the S&M-themed movie Secretary. Several other women have come forth with charges since the initial bombshell, bringing the tally to 17 accusers.
Shortly after the story broke, Bloomberg Television, PBS and CBS News all fired Rose. He had two stories in production at 60 Minutes: One, about DNA manipulation, was reshot with Bill Whitaker; the other, about cybersecurity, was spiked.
As CBS News and PBS struggled behind closed doors to fill the gaping hole he left, Rose launched a public campaign of studied nonchalance. Hours after the news hit, the anchor parked himself in "the most visible place possible," says one media watcher — the front table by the bar at Upper East Side power hotspot Le Bilboquet (financier Ron Perelman is a co-owner). Burden joined him in what the observer says looked like a pointed show: "It was as if he was saying, 'If the long-term woman in my life is standing by me and accepts my behavior, it must not be worthy of condemnation."
Other than the apology tweet, Rose put up a business-as-usual front. On Nov. 21, the day after the allegations went wide, a TMZ cameraman intercepted him entering his apartment building — Rose owns a $3 million two-bedroom in the Sherry-Netherland on the corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue — and asked him to comment on "the women who accused him of wrongdoings." He replied, "They're not wrongdoings," and pushed past the doors into safety. In December, there was a flurry of Manhattan sightings at midtown power spots like Michael's, Le Bilboquet (where the New York Post reported Rose was "greeted like a king") and Gabriel's (where he reportedly took selfies with a swarm of women, who turned out to be a family of dog breeders whose puppies have bred with his Labrador, Barclay).
His only concession to his newfound notoriety was that he was spending more time than ever at Harry Cipriani, conveniently located on the ground floor of his building. "I frankly see him mostly [there]," says a good friend. "My sense is, both before and now, that he's there probably more than any other place." Rose has dined at Cipriani with power couple Joel Klein and Nicole Seligman — Klein is ex-chancellor of the New York City public school system and a top executive at insurance company Oscar Health; his wife, Seligman, is the former president of Sony Corporation of America.
Rose also has been spotted accompanied by friend and superlawyer David Boies, the chairman of Boies Schiller Flexner who has represented Harvey Weinstein. (A decade ago, Boies threatened legal action when Radar magazine featured Rose in its "Toxic Bachelors" issue, which cited his dinner-party behavior toward the female half of a New York power couple as "palm[ing] her buttock like a honeydew.") Klein, Seligman, Boies and Burden may be the sum total of Rose's inner circle of loyalists. Says one media insider, "He is open, he talks to anyone — waiters and people on the street — and he has a lot of charisma. But I suspect that he does not have many deep friends."
As Rose adjusted to his new status, colleagues were voicing the kind of disappointment that can only stem from a place of utmost respect. Gayle King, Rose's former CBS This Morning co-anchor, said the day after the Washington Post story ran: "I am not OK … what do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible? I'm really grappling with that." When Charlie Rose staffers lost their jobs in December, Rose made sure to be on hand to personally deliver the news to each one. Three staff members have since been absorbed by Bloomberg TV, which produced the show.
John Dickerson, anchor of Face the Nation, took over Rose's position on CBS This Morning in January, while Christiane Amanpour now occupies Rose's interview slot on PBS. A son of North Carolina storekeepers, Rose had been a media force since his eponymous show first aired in 1991, and was now facing spotty prospects at best, having lost his job, his reputation, even his journalistic honors. (Six colleges including Rose's alma mater, Duke University, have rescinded awards.)
Even so, little could have prepared Rose for his run-in March 19, while dining at midtown Italian restaurant Avena with Klein and Seligman. Midway through the meal, Rose got up to make a phone call and peeked his head into a nearby room hosting a private screening of a new YouTube series. As he looked, the screen was filled with a loop of a colorful #MeToo animation — which just happened to depict Weinstein in a bathrobe getting shot into outer space by Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek and Ashley Judd, among others. When Rose's presence was noted, "we were all in shock — everyone was ogling him," Marisa Acocella, who created the animation, tells THR. The New Yorker cartoonist and best-selling author was hosting a party that included the likes of Geraldo Rivera, Judy Licht and feminist author Erica Jong. Acocella's first thought was, "Oh my God, I can't believe he's here." Rose, mortified, returned to his table, the evening another reminder that he is persona non grata in certain corners of a city where he'd been one of the most revered journalists on television.
Today, because of both his age and the allegations, few expect Rose to come back and once again host conversations with hard-to-wrangle CEOs, celebrities, cardinals, comedians and the occasional astrophysicist. These days, as Boies tells THR, Rose has taken on his ultimate assignment: "He's one of the best interviewers in our lifetime, and he is now asking questions of himself."
Though his journalistic accomplishments remain unassailable, Rose must carve out a path in uncharted territory when it comes to earning back his good name, say friends and even one accuser. "Charlie's behavior since the stories were published is the only thing that will be taken into account when the public considers giving him a second chance," says Godfrey-Ryan. "We live in a society that roots for transformation. I do hope Charlie will be one of the victors." A former colleague who wishes to remain unnamed offers a less forgiving assessment: "He's a broken, powerful, old man surrounded by people who love him, but the truth is, he is desperately lonely."
CHARLIE'S HIDEAWAY HOMES
Five private residences — and a soybean farm — fill out his portfolio, as the host reportedly eyes two additional properties.
By: Brian Porreca
BELLPORT, LONG ISLAND
It's a place of "privacy and escape," says Rice Realty agent Kenneth Hirsch of Bellport, where Rose owns a 1-acre, 5,500-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath waterfront with a swimming pool, tennis court and guest house. The entire property is valued at $4 million to $6 million, according to Jessica Shreeve of Eileen A. Green Realty Corp. Also in the neighborhood: Isabella Rossellini, producer and former HBO exec Colin Callender and, during summers, Anne Hathaway. Rose is reportedly eyeing two additional properties in this beach enclave.
NEW YORK CITY
Purchased for $1.8 million (and now worth $3 million), Rose's two-bedroom, high-ceilinged Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park is inside the famous Sherry-Netherland, less than two miles from his former post at CBS This Morning. The building is equipped with a 24-hour concierge and was once the home of David Bowie, Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand. Also inside the Netherland: one of Rose's favorite dining spots, Harry Cipriani.
HENDERSON, NORTH CAROLINA
Rose, a Henderson native, owns a sprawling and secluded 5,500-square-foot estate here. And 15 miles west, Oxford holds another unique Rose property: a small soybean farm that he purchased in the early 1990s and turned into a residence called Grassy Creek Farm, where he retreats with his Labrador, Barclay. The property has two barns, a pond stocked with geese and a basketball court.
D.C. has always been a mainstay for Rose, who has bought and sold two properties over the past three decades. After living in Woodley Park from the late '70s to early '80s, Rose unloaded his former pad, once lived in by anchor Tom Brokaw, to fellow journalist Tim Russert (now deceased). Rose's current property, worth nearly $2 million, is in Georgetown and is decked out with hardwood flooring, a fireplace and a private patio that can be entered through a renovated kitchen featuring French doors. As comfortable a domicile as it is, Rose hasn't been living in the Georgetown residence in recent months — with zero sightings of him walking Barclay on the Capitol Hill streets — and is instead leasing the property out for approximately $6,000 a month.
This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.