Time’s Up to spend CBS donation on a new diversity initiative

Les Moonves, the former CBS CEO who has been credibly accused by many women of sexual violence and coercion along with the systematic destruction and obstruction of female talent and women-centric shows at his network, is still angling for the exit package of his dreams. Though originally owed $120 million, Moonves may be left holding nothing at all if the network can demonstrate he’s being fired for cause — in this case, by failing to cooperate with the investigation into his alleged misconduct.

In the meantime, CBS has donated a total of $20 million to 18 different advocacy groups as part of Moonves’ departure. Recipients are “organizations dedicated to fostering safe and equitable work environments and eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace,” including RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the National Women’s Law Center, and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

On Friday, Time’s Up announced how it will spend its $500,000 share: The group is starting an initiative in the entertainment industry aimed at diversifying the producer and executive pool in Hollywood. Called “Who’s in the Room,” its goal is to “increase the number of people of color and people from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds among producers and execs,” according to The Hollywood Reporter:

The program will select mentees currently in entry-level positions and assistant positions that could lead to junior-exec promotions and provide mentors, instruction and financial aid if needed. The first class of mentees, comprising 10 individuals, will be mentored for nine months; the second class will have 50 mentees supported for two years each.

The program will have a financial aid component (up to $10,000 per candidate) for everything from more exciting professional opportunities, like film festival attendance, to emergencies or basic needs. Who’s in the Room will also have “accountability measures” built in, with regular check-ins and events for mentees.

An intuitive truth: The more diverse a creative, behind-the-camera team is, the better the representation will be on-screen as well. One recent study to this point found that when a television show has at least one female creator, more women are hired for behind the scenes and on-camera roles.

Meanwhile, it seems every day brings a new report about something sordid, if not outright unlawful, from Moonves’ tenure at CBS.

On Thursday, the New York Times revealed that the network paid actress Eliza Dushku $9.5 million to keep her quiet about sexual harassment she endured on the set of Bull from Michael Weatherly, a regular CBS star for a decade and a half. She confronted Weatherly about his harassment, the Times reports, and was subsequently fired; believing her termination was retaliation for speaking up about Weatherly, she went through mediation with CBS and wound up with $9.5 million, approximately what she would have earned if she’d stayed on the show for four seasons.

In the investigation report which contained the details about Dushku’s experience, lawyers said CBS’s handling of Dushku’s complaints “was not only misguided, but emblematic of larger problems at CBS. When faced with instances of wrongdoing, the company had a tendency to protect itself, at the expense of victims.”

This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on December 15, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Jessica M. Goldstein is the Culture Editor for ThinkProgress.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.