Gil Schwartz, one of nine members of the CBS corporate executive team and a longtime consiglieri to dethroned chairman and CEO Les Moonves and other corner-office fixtures such as Mel Karmazin and Peter Lund, has announced his retirement.
In a memo to employees, written in his signature puckish style, the senior EVP and Chief Communications Officer said he planned to leave as of November 1.
“As fans of arcane SEC filings have noted, I had the option of stepping away early this past summer, but given the exigencies of corporate life at that juncture, I elected to stay in place for a while,” the memo said. “Now seems like a much more appropriate time to move on. The corporation is establishing a new direction, full of hope and promise. And I still have a lot of writing to do, in an atmosphere of perhaps some greater serenity.”
In his current role, Schwartz has overseen the entire PR, media relations and corporate communications operation. His tenure spanned the entire 24 years that Moonves was at the company.
Schwartz was portrayed by Steve Bartoni in the 2015 film Truth, about the 60 Minutes 2 report by Dan Rather which was later discredited and led to his exit and a black eye for CBS.
At CBS, a media standard-bearer known for its veneration of tradition, Schwartz’s roots are deeper than almost any other employee. Before previous roles at CBS and Viacom during the era when chairman emeritus Sumner Redstone assembled the pieces of both companies, he ran communications for CBS Corp. before it merged with Viacom in 2000. He also spent 14 years at Westinghouse Broadcasting, which merged with CBS in 1995. Prior to the Moonves CEO era, Schwartz reported to top bosses including Karmazin and Peter Lund.
Along the way, Schwartz also managed the unusual feat of writing a regular column for Fortune magazine under the pen name Stanley Bing.
Here is the full memo Schwartz sent to CBS employees:
This note is to let you all know that, effective November 1, I will be retiring from CBS.As fans of arcane SEC filings have noted, I had the option of stepping away early this past summer, but given the exigencies of corporate life at that juncture, I elected to stay in place for a while. Now seems like a much more appropriate time to move on. The corporation is establishing a new direction, full of hope and promise. And I still have a lot of writing to do, in an atmosphere of perhaps some greater serenity.I am also very happy to say that I leave our lean, focused Communications department in wonderful shape. Under the guidance of Dana in New York and Chris in LA, with seasoned pros like Kelli at Corporate, Christa at News, Jen at Sports, Johanna at Showtime, Susan at Interactive, Adam at S&S and Mike at our Television Stations, and with Photo firing on all cylinders under Gail’s steady hand, I know the important messages that make us strong will keep on coming through the crazy, noisy media environment loud and clear.I started at this job back when we all worked on dedicated word processors and the phrase “I’ll get back to you tomorrow” was considered a rapid response. Today, it is not uncommon for reporters to call after they post a story to see if they need to make any corrections. But, as the world has changed, so have we, and I believe this department continues to define excellence in what we do. I’m very proud of that and always will be, and of all of you.So now, after a millennial lifetime at this company, I take my leave, not without a certain heaviness of heart, I do admit, but with a new and not unwelcome lightness in my step as well.Thanks, everyone. Keep up the great work.Gil