Chronicle of a Redstone Family Feud, Foretold

In light of Sumner Redstone’s latest – he is now trying to kick daughter Shari out of the business (having already disposed of his son) – it’s worth revisiting the prescient profile penned by Vanity Fair‘s Bryan Burrough late last year. There’s lots of great detail, including Sumner’s love of nudity (he swims laps every day sans swimsuit; he also prefers to shave in the buff while sitting in his outdoor hottub) and courtship of wife Paula (at one point, early in the relationship, he messengered over a packet of his press clippings). Most relevant for this week’s news, though, is this passage at the end of the story:

The real question is Redstone’s future. “He’ll tell you he’s never going to die,” says one studio chief. “What does that mean? Only a guy who is afraid of dying says he’s never going to die. Clearly, he’s afraid to die. I think that’s why he always feels so threatened by people like Freston.” Adds Sue Mengers, “Sumner does not want to let go of that ledge.” Redstone’s daughter, Shari, director of National Amusements, remains his heir apparent, but already there are rumblings of a squabble among those in Redstone’s circle who favour Dauman instead. When I asked Redstone about this, there was a pause.

“Now you’re putting me on the spot,” he begins. “Originally, in my will ” When Paula shoots him a look, Redstone abruptly changes tack. “It will depend on the board,” he says. When it’s pointed out that this is a non-answer, Redstone says, “I’ll be dead. There’s no way I leave this job before I die.” Pressed further, Redstone says Shari’s future “is subject to two points. That she would want to [succeed me]. And the boards of both companies would have to approve her.” Through a spokesman, Shari Redstone declined comment.

The “it’s up to the boards” dodge, by the way, is a Redstone favourite – he used the same non-answer when asked to justify booting Tom Freston a year ago.  Photo: Defamer


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