Julie Chen Finally Explains Why She Took Husband Les Moonves' Name Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

It was one word, but it echoed throughout the #MeToo movement in September 2018 when Julie Chen, longtime host of “Big Brother” on CBS, signed off with an additional moniker, referring to herself as Julie Chen Moonves for the first time.

It was a notable statement from the longtime broadcaster as it came down shortly after her husband Les Moonves had stepped down from his position as CBS CEO after having been with the company since 1995.

The couple wed in 2004, but Chen had never professionally used his name, either on “Big Brother” or CBS’s daytime show, “The Talk.” Since 2018, though, she has continued to use his last name in addition to her own.

Chen told Deadline on Wednesday that she initially rejected the idea of taking Moonves’ name because it could be seen as “an unfair advantage.” He was, after all, the CEO of the very corporation she worked for.

In all the years since Moonves stepped down amid a series of sexual harassment allegations that he has denied, Chen never explained why she started to publicly use his name, until now.

“When his name was getting dragged through the mud, I thought this is the time to make my stand and to let the world know who I am,” she told Deadline. “And it was a sign of support for my husband. I know him. And he is a good man.”

Just as it shocked the nation in its clear statement of solidarity and support during a sensitive era of reckoning in Hollywood, Chen revealed that it shocked everyone involved with the show, too.

“I made the change on the fly on a live show in the spur of the moment,” she explained. “I didn’t tell anybody. I was, like, toying with it, and I remember my heart racing while I thought, ‘Am I gonna do it?’ It just became a moment.”

She said that it even shocked her husband. “I think he was just like, ‘What happened?'” Chen recalled.

Julie Chen will continue signing off with the additional Moonves as “Big Brother” kicked off its 24th season on Wednesday night. Starting this weekend, new episodes will air Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET,  and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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