Leslie Moonves says he's not proud of CBS Films' movies
No use putting lipstick on a stinker.
Variety TV critic and columnist Brian Lowry tried Thursday to delicately question CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves about the dismal showing of CBS Films. The nascent unit has released such box-office bombs as the teen love story "Beastly," the Harrison Ford medical drama "Extraordinary Measures," and the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy "The Back-Up Plan."
Just last month, the president of the 4-year-old film unit, Amy Baer, left the company. CBS Films — which hasn't released a movie since March — is now being run by a management team that features Chief Operating Officer Wolfgang Hammer and marketing consultant Terry Press.
"I think it would be fair to say that CBS Films has had kind of a rocky start," Lowry said during the question-and-answer session of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon in Beverly Hills.
"That's better than fair," cracked Moonves, whose push into the feature film business has been a major disappointment. Moonves had long wanted to get into movie production even when Wall Street considered it a bad idea. But Moonves persisted, rolling out a strategy to release only a small number of moderately budgeted movies a year.
Was it a miscalculation?
"I don't think it was the wrong strategy; it was the wrong films," Moonves said. "Our corporation hasn't missed many. [CBS Films] is in the very early stages. We've only released five films and three of them have broken even. But they aren't movies that I'm proud of. I am proud of the content on CBS and I'm proud of the content on Showtime. I often say this, the TV business is a much better business than the movie business."
Predicated on what?, Lowry asked.
"Predicated on how well our TV divisions are doing, and how bad our movie business is," Moonves said to gales of laughter from the audience. "It's pretty basic. I know there is a way we can do it better."
— Meg James
Photo: "Beastly" a teen angst movie starring Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens / Credit: CBS Films