Richard Parsons Resigns From CBS Board of Directors, Citing Health Reasons

Richard Parsons-Getty Image-H-2018
Shahar Azran/WireImage

Strauss Zelnick will assume Parsons' position as interim chairman of the board, effective immediately.

Richard Parsons has resigned from the CBS Corp. Board of Directors, including his position as interim chairman of the board, the company said Sunday.

Strauss Zelnick will assume Parsons’ position as interim chairman of the board, effective immediately.

Parsons said he is stepping down due to complications with his health; the exec was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer, several years ago.

"The reason for my departure relates to the state of my health," Parsons said in a statement. "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."

Parsons had been named chairman of the CBS board on an interim basis less than a month ago, replacing Leslie Moonves, who stepped aside Sept. 9 after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which the former CEO has denied.

Parsons, the former CEO of AOL Time Warner who orchestrated the unraveling of the ill-fated merger of Time Warner and AOL, was added to the CBS board of directors in April.

According to The New York Times, Parsons played a key role in negotiating Moonves' exit and advised on the appointment of acting CEO Joe Ianniello, who is considered a strong contender to take on the job permanently.

Meanwhile, Zelnick's appointment was decided by a unanimous decision of the board Sunday night.

In its announcement, CBS touted that Zelnick has held management roles in all areas of entertainment, from music to film to TV, including serving as president and CEO of BMG Entertainment, president and chief operating officer at 20th Century Fox and vp international television sales at Columbia Pictures.

In 2001, he founded the media-focused private equity firm ZMC (Zelnick Media Capital), where he is "responsible for originating, structuring and monitoring investments," according to his bio, and he currently serves as CEO and chairman of the board of directors of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

Zelnick also has served as chairman and CEO of Columbia Music Entertainment; chairman of ITN Networks; chairman of Direct Holdings Worldwide and OTX; president and CEO of Crystal Dynamics, a producer and distributor of interactive entertainment software; and president and COO of Vestron Inc.

The news of Parsons' decision to step down comes three days after Ianniello announced that Showtime CEO David Nevins had been elevated to chief creative officer of CBS Corp. The new position made Nevins the highest-ranking creative executive at the media giant.

Ianniello on Thursday also announced the appointment of longtime Showtime finance head Chris Spade as executive vp and CFO for CBS Corp.