Strauss Zelnick Already Has A Job, Says He’s Not Looking To Become CBS’ Next CEO

Alberto E. Tamargo

For weeks now, speculation has swirled in New York media circles that Strauss Zelnick was angling for the CEO’s job at CBS.

The current head of Take-Two Interactive used an appearance at the 2018 Paley International Council Summit in London to tamp down any such speculation. Asked by investment banker Aryeh Bourkoff if he had any interest in becoming the media company’s CEO, Zelnick offered an emphatic “no.”

“To add a couple more words: unequivocally, absolutely no. That’s not the deal,” said Zelnick, a media entrepreneur who was appointed CBS’ interim board chairman to take the place of Richard Parsons, who stepped down in October for health reasons.

There’s been plenty of speculation about who might claim the post Les Moonves vacated, after a dozen women came forward to accuse him of sexual aggression. The media company’s newly constituted board of directors has retained executive search firm Korn Ferry to help potentially fill the CEO slot. The search is expected to take another four months, an insider says.

Interim CEO Joe Ianniello has been working to prove himself worthy of the job, making a series of executive appointments to round out the executive team. The media company’s longtime financial strategist received strong marks from Wall Street after delivering his first quarterly report in the top job.

Some in New York media circles saw Zelnick, who has close ties to CBS’ controlling shareholders, the Redstone family, making a play for the top job. That seems unlikely, in the wake of Friday’s remarks.

“This is an amazing enterprise and I’m really grateful to be on the board and to be of service,” Zelnick said in remarks during at the Paley event. “But the job of a non-executive chairman is obviously to convene and to support the company’s management as they grow and build and create value in the company. That’s it.”

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