CBS Studios executive Vincent “Vinnie” Favale has been placed on administrative leave after multiple people accused him of using homophobic and sexual language in the workplace, CNN reported Wednesday.
CNN reported that it spoke with nine former and current CBS employees. Those people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described instances in which Favale, senior vice president of talent for CBS Television Studios, “used sexual innuendo, made homophobic comments and allegedly said derogatory remarks about the appearances of female guests” on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Those remarks were reportedly made between 2015 and this year in “Late Show” rehearsals and meetings.
In one case, Favale allegedly made a comment about Jennifer Hudson while watching her rehearse before an appearance on “The Late Show” in 2015.
“I’ll never forget the day he told me he got four erections while watching Jennifer Hudson rehearse,” a female former CBS executive told CNN.
Two people also described events regarding another remark made around that same year. Favale attended a “Late Show” department meeting and construction was taking place outside.
“There was a big drill, and we looked outside and went to the window,” a former CBS employee said, according to CNN. “[Favale] compared the drill to ‘a big black dick’ as it was drilling into the ground.”
“I couldn’t believe he said that,” the former employee said. She said she complained about the remark — and others that she believed were offensive — to her superior. She said Favale then blocked her out of meetings and that she later left her role at CBS by choice, citing Favale as a factor.
In a statement to CNN, Favale said: “Allegations that I have ever retaliated against anyone in any fashion are 100% false. 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. 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.”
CBS said in a statement that the comments reported in the CNN story “are offensive and not consistent with the standards we expect from our executives or the culture we want at CBS.”
“The network investigated a complaint for inappropriate language that was received in January 2016, and corrective action was taken,” the statement said. “However, since concerned voices are speaking up nearly three years later, additional review is warranted. Mr. Favale has been placed on leave while we look into this situation further.”
CNN also reported that Favale made homophobic remarks.
“He would frequently call Stephen [Colbert] gay because of his seeming inability to interview women well,” the former female executive told CNN. “He would say this in rehearsals, the control room. Sometimes the CBS attorney would even be present, which to me is just shocking that nothing was done.”
Two people also told CNN that Favale said, “Who wants to see that ugly man on TV,” referring to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Favale has also allegedly told “Late Night” producers to “book hotter” women.
“When we wanted to book [women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem], he said that instead we should find younger feminists who were hot,” an employee said.
The former executive who spoke to CNN said Favale would also speak about his connection to now-former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who left CBS in September following allegations of sexual assault.
“He would talk about Les and Julie [Chen] all the time … he was just connected all the way up to the top. He would say whatever he wanted to say, even if it was outrageous,” she said.