“He said, ‘Look I don’t want to come back — I don’t think it’s the right thing for me to do,’” Mr. Moonves said in a telephone interview. “It was all handled with great care and great respect, and I was very sympathetic. You’re 45 years old, take care of yourself.”
The network said it was in discussions with Mr. Geller about a potential production deal with CBS Studios.
Mr. Geller declined to comment.
Mr. Geller’s medical leave occurred during the busiest stretch of the year for a network executive, a time when decisions are made on what pilots are picked up and the fall schedule is made final and presented to advertisers at the annual upfront presentations.
In a memo to the staff in March announcing his leave, Mr. Geller said: “The good news is the doctors have given me an excellent report card and say I’m on track for a full recovery. The bad news is that pilot season and the upfront isn’t the best environment to achieve that recovery. After consulting with my doctors, my husband and my family, I plan to take off a few more weeks and return at the end of May.”
During his medical leave, Mr. Geller did not have much contact with CBS executives and did not offer opinions on the final schedule that the network set.
Mr. Geller took over the job in September 2015 after CBS’s longtime entertainment head, Nina Tassler, retired. CBS finished this season as the most-viewed network for the 14th time in 15 years and gained some momentum from its new drama “Bull.”
But the network also fell to third…