Julie Chen appeared on Big Brother on Thursday night, marking the host’s first television appearance since her husband, Les Moonves, resigned as chairman and CEO of CBS amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him. Moonves has denied the allegations.
Chen did not address the controversy at the top of the episode, and instead got down to business introducing the show and catching viewers up as the live episode began
However, she appeared to show support for her husband at the end of the show when she, for the first time, used her full, married name when signing off: “I’m Julie Chen Moonves. Goodnight.”
Additionally, Chen took to Twitter to promote Thursday’s live episode with a close-up snapshot of her hands holding a Big Brother interview card. Her wedding band appeared prominently in the uncaptioned photo.
Prior to her Big Brother appearance, 48-year-old Chen told ET in a statement that she was taking time off from her co-hosting duties on CBS’ The Talk.
“I am taking a few days off from The Talk to be with my family,” the statement read. “I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother.”
Moonves resigned on Sunday after six women accused the 68-year-old television executive of sexual misconduct in an article published by The New Yorker — which is in addition to six other women who went public with their allegations in a previous New Yorker report published in July. The allegations — which go as far back as the 1980s — include forced kissing, forced oral sex, unwanted advances and physical abuse. Some claimed their careers suffered after they refused Moonves’ advances.
In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves acknowledged three of the encounters in their most recent report but said they were consensual.
“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” the statement read. “What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. 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.”
CBS Corporation announced Moonves’ exit on Sunday. A $120 million financial exit package for Moonves will be withheld pending the results of the board’s independent investigation. CBS said it will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
Chen has been married to Moonves since 2004. After the initial New Yorker report in July, she sent out a statement in support of her husband of 14 years.
“Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader,” she tweeted. “He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being. I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement.”
Chen also addressed the scandal on The Talk in July.
“Some of you may be aware of what’s been going on in my life the past few days,” she said, addressing the camera. “I issued the one and only statement I will ever make on this topic on Twitter. And I will stand by this statement today, tomorrow, forever.”
On Monday, Chen’s The Talk co-hosts — Sharon Osbourne, Eve, Sara Gilbert and Sheryl Underwood — didn’t shy away from discussing Moonves’ exit in Chen’s absence.
“As you all know, Julie’s husband is in the news and she’s taking time off to be with her family,” Osbourne said. “Whatever times I’ve had of hardship over the last eight years, Julie has always been there for me. She’s been a friend. She’s been somebody I admire and respect greatly and it’s very embarrassing and upsetting to have to talk about her husband, but we do. We feel it’s right and I personally know Les Moonves in a superficial way. It was, ‘Hello, how are you?’ Nothing more. I know nothing about the man other than he’s Julie’s husband and he was the head of the biggest network in the world and the most powerful man in TV.”
The women also made it clear that despite their close friendship with Chen, they were also supporting the women who spoke up with allegations.
“Julie is our friend,” Gilbert noted. “This is our ninth season and we’ve been together since the beginning. I love her. I support her always. However, this is an important time in our culture, and just because this hits close to home, it doesn’t change the story. All women’s stories matter and these women’s stories matter. This is very serious and the appropriate actions need to take place and so I am happy women are heard because for a long time they haven’t been.”
Underwood echoed, “I think this is a blessing from God to be unburdened from secrets and unchained from lies and now is the time for everyone to look inside themselves and become better people and treat people the way they should be treated. And women should not feel they have to carry secrets and burdens. … Today we say enough is enough, and today we say we believe you, we hear you, go on with your life.”
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