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Richard Parsons steps down from CBS board, and Strauss Zelnick is elected chairman

Richard Parsons steps down from CBS board, and Strauss Zelnick is elected chairman
Richard Parsons, shown in 2009, stepped down Sunday night as interim chairman of CBS Corp. related to health complications. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)

In yet another changing of the guard at CBS Corp., the company announced late Sunday that Richard Parsons has stepped down from the board — a month after joining it — due to health complications.

Strauss Zelnick, who also has served on the CBS board for about a month, assumed Parsons’ position as interim chairman. CBS board members unanimously approved Zelnick’s appointment in a Sunday evening meeting, the company said in a statement.

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“The reason for my departure relates to the state of my health,” Parsons, 70, said in the statement. “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 is well respected in the industry. He ran Time Warner Inc. during a turbulent time after the company’s disastrous merger with AOL, and he was brought in to stabilize Citigroup Inc. during the Great Recession. He also became interim chief of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team in 2014, after the NBA issued a lifetime ban to team owner Donald Sterling over racist remarks.

Parsons’ appointment to the CBS board last month was designed to ensure stability as the company was reeling from the abrupt ouster of its longtime chief executive and chairman, Leslie Moonves, amid a widening sexual harassment scandal.

“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,” Parsons said in Sunday’s statement. “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.”

Shari Redstone, CBS’ controlling shareholder, recruited Parsons last spring for a position on the board. He helped her put together a slate of new board members to replace several long-serving board members, including Moonves, David Andelman, Leonard Goldberg and Arnold Kopelson.

Zelnick, 61, held high-level positions at BMG Entertainment and at the 20th Century Fox film and television studio, as well as in television distribution at Columbia Pictures. In 2001 he formed a media-centric private equity firm called ZMC (Zelnick Media Capital). He is also chairman and chief executive of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., an interactive entertainment company.

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