MOONVES, LES


MOONVES, LES
MOONVES, LES (1949– ), U.S. entertainment executive. Born in New York, Moonves is a distant relative of David Ben-Gurion through a marriage on his father's side. Although he once planned on becoming a doctor, after graduating Bucknell University in 1971 he decided to become an actor. Moonves lived in Greenwich Village for five years, studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse and working as a bartender at the renowned restaurant Tavern on the Green. In 1976, Moonves moved to Hollywood, where he bartended between minor roles on television shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and Cannon. He abandoned acting for an executive role at Columbia in 1979, and in 1981 he was hired by Twentieth Century Fox to produce made-for-television films. Joining Lorimar Television in 1984, he produced The Two Mrs. Grenvilles and I Know My First Name Is Steven. He was promoted to head of series production in 1986, overseeing shows like Dallas, Knots Landing, and Falcon Crest; head of public affairs in 1988; in 1989 he was made president of Lorimar, which was acquired by Warner in 1991, becoming Warner Bros. Television. Moonves oversaw a variety of hit television shows, and in 1995 he went to third-place CBS to take over as president of its entertainment division. Success came in the form of sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005), the reality-television show Survivor (2000– ) and the drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000– ). In 2002, CBS's parent company Viacom named Moonves to head its floundering network UPN, making him the first executive to run two networks simultaneously. That same year CBS ranked first in total viewership. In 2004, Moonves and MTV chairman Tom Freston were named co-presidents and co-chief operating officers of Viacom, Inc., taking over for Viacom chief executive officer Sumner Redstone. In 2004, Moonves married The Early Show anchor Julie Chen after divorcing actress Nancy Wiesenfeld, his wife of 26 years. (Adam Wills (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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