Parsons Steps Down as CBS Interim Chairman

Cites health reasons, Zelnick named as replacement
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Former Time Warner chairman and CEO Richard Parsons has resigned as interim chairman of broadcaster CBS Corp., citing health reasons. Take-Two Interactive Software chief and CBS board member Strauss Zelnick will assume the role of interim chairman immediately.

Parsons, who retired from Time Warner in 2008, was named interim chairman of CBS in September, just weeks after a sexual harassment scandal rocked the entertainment giant and resulted in the departure of several executives, including chairman and CEO Les Moonves. Moonves has denied any wrongdoing.

Strauss Zelnick

Strauss Zelnick

Parsons was considered to be a calming influence on the board and has stepped in during sticky situations at other companies – he was named interim CEO of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers after owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team after making a series of racist remarks.

CBS named former chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello as interim CEO and has made other recent management changes, but is still searching for a permanent chief.

Parsons cited his health was the main reason for his decision to step down.

Richard Parsons

Richard Parsons

“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,” Parsons said in a statement. “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.”

Zelnick is a widely respected media industry leader who has held management roles in all forms of entertainment, including recorded music at BMG Entertainment, motion pictures and television programming at 20th Century Fox and international television distribution at Columbia Pictures. In 2001 he founded the media-focused private equity firm ZMC (Zelnick Media Capital), and he currently serves as chairman and CEO of Take-Two Interactive, one of the world’s largest interactive entertainment companies.