Magazine article Variety

Sumner's Tragic Flaws

Magazine article Variety

Sumner's Tragic Flaws

Article excerpt

I've been covering Hollywood for a long time, chronicling the ups and downs, the high drama, and the wackiness of the business. But I've never witnessed anything quite like the bizarre spectacle currently unfolding: the savage turf war over Sumner Redstone's $40 billion media empire.

It's a virtual shitstorm - a Shakespearean tale, both tragic and comedic, with a flawed, ailing protagonist at its center.

Redstone and his 62-year-old daughter, Shari, now joined in their mission to expel Viacom's embattled leader Philippe Dauman from the kingdom, have had their own tempestuous relationship. Only recently have they patched things up, after a ferocious public feud erupted in 2007 when dad attempted to kick his only daughter - the vice chairwoman of Viacom and CBS Corp. - to the curb over disagreements about succession, corporate governance, and other business matters.

I remember meeting with Sumner ll years ago. He urged me to get to know his daughter, who he bragged was the unheralded whiz running National Amusements, the holding company for the family's movie theater circuit and interests in Viacom and CBS. I didn't know much about her except that she had given up a successful career as a litigator to raise her three children, and had no desire to work for the family business until Sumner prevailed upon her to do so in 1994. …

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