CBS Executive Vinnie Favale Placed On Leave Amid Allegations Of Sexual, Homophobic Language


A CBS executive who develops comedic talent for the Late Show With Stephen Colbert has been placed on administrative leave as the media company investigates allegations of him using sexually explicit and homophobic language in the workplace and retaliating against those who complained.

Nine current and former CBS employees who spoke to CNN described Vinnie Favale’s use of ribald and offensive language, including one who said he talked about how he got “four erections” while watching Jennifer Hudson rehearse for a show.

Two sources recounted details of a 2015 department meeting that was interrupted by the sound of construction — prompting Favale to compare the drill to “a big black dick.” One female employee who complained to her supervisor about the drill remark found herself subsequently excluded from meetings, according to CNN’s report.

Favale would encourage the Late Show producers to book “hotter” female guests, CNN reported. Others described his use of the derogatory term “homos” to disparage the show’s guests and co-workers, and even Colbert, according to those who spoke with CNN.

CBS issued a statement saying Favale has been placed on leave.

“The comments reported in this story are offensive and not consistent with the standards we expect from our executives or the culture we want at CBS,” the company said in a statement. “The network investigated a complaint for inappropriate language that was received in January 2016, and corrective action was taken. However, since concerned voices are speaking up nearly three years later, additional review is warranted.”

The media company has been grappling with allegations of misconduct since its former CEO, Les Moonves, resigned last month.  Earlier this week it fired the NCIS: New Orleans showrunner Brad Kern, who had been investigated for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination against women.

Favale worked for years alongside former Late Show host, David Letterman, and served as executive in charge of that show form 1996 through the end of its run in 2015. He initially worked with Colbert on the launch of the new show, but is no longer involved in its day-to-day operations.

Before Late Night, he was in charge of The Howard Stern Show, which was syndicated on CBS TV stations from 1998-2001, and appeared as a “semi regular” on Stern’s radio show over the past 20 years. He’s also credited as one of the founders of Comedy Central.

Those who worked with Favale said this brand of coarse humor that’s common in some comedy circles followed him to CBS Television Studios, where he held the title of senior vice president of late night and talent development.

Favale issued a statement to CNN calling charges of retaliation “100% false,” and said his use of transgressive humor has been mischaracterized.

“I have spent my entire career working at comedy shows, where there has always been a wide latitude to make transgressive jokes while preparing the program,” Favale said in the statement. “While we make a lot of jokes, these jokes attributed to me, whether said in rehearsals or production meetings, are being taken out of context and were not said in the way being presented here.”
Omri Ben-Ari, chair of the labor and employment practice of West Coast Trial Lawyers in Los Angeles, said people are often surprised to learn that remarks can constitute a form of sexual harassment. 
“Not only does harassment include unwanted physical conduct, but it also encompasses verbal epithets, derogatory comments, slurs, sexual comments and jokes, repeated romantic overtures or requests for sexual favors, lewd gestures, leering, or even unjustly prying into another’s personal affairs,” said Ben-Ari. “The legal protections are much broader than most think.”

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