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CBS Studios executive Vinnie Favale has been placed on administrative leave after several current and former employees alleged he regularly used sexual and homophobic language in the workplace.
Favale was placed on leave Wednesday, according to CNN, which details allegations of inappropriate workplace language from nine current and former CBS employees. Favale is currently senior vp talent development at CBS Studios, a role he took on in 2017 after a long stint as the program executive for The Late Show during most of David Letterman’s tenure and through the transition to Stephen Colbert as host.
Favale made several on-air appearances during Letterman’s CBS tenure. He also developed and oversaw The Howard Stern Radio Show, a syndicated TV version of Stern’s daily show that ran from 1998-2001.
The allegations against Favale came to light a few weeks after CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves left the company amid a second wave of allegations of sexual misconduct against him, and a day after CBS Studios terminated an overall deal with former NCIS: New Orleans showrunner Brad Kern over repeated allegations of harassment of female staffers.
CBS also recently fired 60 Minutes executive producer and former news division head Jeff Fager after he sent a threatening text message to a CBS reporter covering sexual misconduct allegations against him. In 2017, the network dropped CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Among the things Favale is purported to have said include telling people on set he “got four erections” watching Jennifer Hudson rehearse a Late Show performance in 2015; referring to some Late Show guests — and even Colbert — as “homos” or “gay”; and asking the show’s booking staff to find “hotter” female guests.
“When we wanted to book [Gloria Steinem]” for a Late Show segment, a current CBS employee told CNN, “he said that instead we should find younger feminists who were hot.”
A former CBS executive told CNN she reported some of Favale’s comments to the network’s human resources department, but afterward she was “shut out of meetings” and had diminished interaction with him despite her job requiring it.
“Allegations that I have ever retaliated against anyone in any fashion are 100 percent false,” Favale said in a statement. “I have spent my entire career working at comedy shows, where there has always been a wide latitude to make transgressive jokes while preparing the program. While we make a lot of jokes, these jokes attributed to me, whether said in rehearsals or production meetings, are being taken out of context and were not said in the way being presented here.”
In its own statement, CBS said, “The comments reported in this story are offensive and not consistent with the standards we expect from our executives or the culture we want at CBS. The network investigated a complaint for inappropriate language that was received in January 2016, and corrective action was taken. However, since concerned voices are speaking up nearly three years later, additional review is warranted. Mr. Favale has been placed on leave while we look into this situation further.”
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