Mr. Moonves, 68, grew up in Valley Stream on Long Island. His father ran a gas station. He began his career in the 1970s on the other side of the camera, playing a heavy on “The Six Million Dollar Man” and a Mexican pearl diver on “Cannon.” But the life of an actor, which depends on the decisions of others, was not for him.
In the 1980s, Mr. Moonves landed a high-ranking job at Lorimar Television. When a sitcom produced by the company, “Full House,” got big ratings on ABC, he was on his way to becoming a Hollywood power player.
But according to Mr. Farrow’s reporting, his early success coincided with instances of sexual misconduct. Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, who was an executive at Lorimar, told The New Yorker that Mr. Moonves had forced her to perform oral sex on him. She filed a criminal complaint with the Los Angeles Police Department last year.
In the mid-1990s, when he was running the Warner Bros. television division, Mr. Moonves had 22 series on the air, including megahits like “ER” and “Friends.” New York magazine put him on the cover,calling him Mr. TV, and Mr. Moonves kept a framed copy in his Manhattan office.
But while he was becoming the public face of the industry, the instances of alleged sexual misconduct continued. Jessica Pallingston, an assistant at Warner Bros. in those years, accused Mr. Moonves of forcing her to perform oral sex on him and essentially destroying her career. (Mr. Moonves called the accusations against him “untrue.”)
He moved into an executive role at CBS and got to work rebuilding the last-place network. “A slow, brick-by-brick process,” he called it. It took five years before things started to click, with the premiere episode of the reality series “Survivor.”
Then came the hit police-procedural show “C.S.I.” and its successful spinoffs. There were also the sitcoms — four-camera productions, with plenty of laugh-track laughs — “Two and a Half Men,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory.” For the last 10 TV seasons, CBS has been the most-watched network.