Tortorici quits as CBS plans to hire over him

June 08, 1995|By Bill Carter | Bill Carter,New York Times News Service

CBS Entertainment president Peter Tortorici resigned yesterday in anticipation of the network's naming Leslie Moonves to a new position in charge of the CBS entertainment division.

Mr. Moonves is president of Warner Brothers Television and his contract extends until the end of this year. But executives at CBS and at Warner said the deal for Mr. Moonves to move to CBS should be completed in the next day or two.

Mr. Tortorici said yesterday that he had been asked to stay on at CBS in a position under Mr. Moonves, but had declined. "They wanted me to stay on in my present position, to be part of a two-person team," Mr. Tortorici said. "I chose not to."

He said he had no immediate career plans but intends to stay in the television business in some capacity. "I'm going to take some time off and relax, probably take some trips," he said. "When I get back, I expect the phone will be ringing and something will come up."

His decision to resign did not reflect a reluctance to work with Mr. Moonves, he said. "It was just time for me to be a little selfish, to think about my family first instead of the job first. Fortunately, I protected myself very well financially."

Mr. Tortorici had a four-year contract with CBS and he said the network's settlement terms were generous.

The change comes at an unusual moment. CBS has just completed meetings with both advertisers and the managers of its affiliated stations at which it displayed the new prime-time schedule of programs put together by Mr. Tortorici.

The schedule was well received and CBS will spend the next several months citing those programs as the foundation for a comeback from the ratings disaster it had this year.

CBS had been in first place in the prime-time competition only a year ago before it plunged this season to a distant third. Mr. fTC Tortorici said that a flawed strategy, which called for CBS to make short-term, stop-gap moves to stay in first place, had led to this year's ratings collapse.

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