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Paramount Parent Gets New Boss, Too

Sumner Redstone’s removal from decision-making jobs at both Viacom and CBS is now complete

Just a couple of days ago, CBS Corp. tried to correct months of bad publicity surrounding its chairman by replacing Sumner Redstone with longtime CBS chief Les Moonves.

The transition was nowhere as contentious as some business observers had feared, believing Sumner’s daughter, Shari Redstone, might vie for the spot. Instead, she not only declined the job but made the nomination for Moonves’ ascension herself.

The same can’t be said with the other company that holds the rights to Star Trek, however: Paramount Pictures parent Viacom. While Shari Redstone once again declined the top spot, she was against the man who would eventually be named the new chairman: Philippe Dauman.

Dauman made a name for himself as a lawyer who helped advise Sumner Redstone’s hostile takeover of Viacom in 1987, which reportedly earned him a seat on the new board and a chance to rise up the ranks of a company worth $17.9 billion.

Shari Redstone, however, opposed Dauman’s ascension to chairman to replace her ailing father because, according to Variety, of his close connection to the Redstone family trust. With the elder Redstone at 92, and certainly with far fewer days ahead than he has behind, Shari Redstone has expressed concern about Viacom and personal family finances becoming unnecessarily entangled.

“It is my firm belief that whomever may succeed my father as chair at each company should be someone who is not a trustee of my father’s trust, or otherwise intertwined in Redstone family matters,” Shari Redstone said. “But rather, a leader with an independent voice.”

Shari Redstone stood alone, however, when the final vote was cast, being the lone dissenter.

“Philippe has been instrumental with Sumner in every aspect of Viacom’s success for nearly 30 years, and most recently as CEO, has taken on the tough task of navigating our future in a time of unprecedented innovation and disruption,” Viacom board member William Schwartz said, according to Deadline. “He has laid out a strategic long-term vision for the company that we fully endorse. We have complete confidence that his dedication to Viacom, his global experience and his determination to further our culture of creativity and innovation will continue to serve the interests of all shareholders and build long-term value.”

This has been a busy week for both CBS and Viacom, which essentially split the rights to Star Trek (CBS on the television and licensing side, Viacom on the film side through its Paramount subsidiary). It all essentially started last November when a former girlfriend filed suit against Sumner Redstone saying she was improperly removed by Redstone in having authority over his health decisions. Manuela Herzer said in court documents that Redstone was not mentally competent to make such a decision, an accusation that later raised questions by investors on whether Redstone should be in such a high position with CBS and Viacom.

Despite the executive moves, Sumner Redstone maintains a controlling interest in both CBS and Viacom through National Amusements Inc. in Massachusetts, which owns more than 1,500 movie screens around the world. Viacom split in 2006, spinning off its television interests in the form of CBS Corp., although Redstone retained controlling ownership of both entities.

Paramount is set to release its latest Star Trek film, “Star Trek: Beyond,” in July.

Source: TVWeek


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