Redstone in front of the fish tank where he metaphorically sent Freston and Cruise to sleep this summer
Viacom chief Sumner Redstone is profiled in the December issue of Vanity Fair — a behemoth, 7,700-plus word profile mind you — in which Redstone talks candidly about his double Tom whacking — Freston and Cruise — the 83-year-old media icon carried out this sumner, er, summer.
We’ve read it, so you don’t have to:
Redstone’s Beverly Hills home is tucked into a cul-de-sac next to Sylvester Stallone‘s. Eddie Murphy, Barry Bonds, Reba McEntire, Rod Stewart, Martin Lawrence and Denzel Washington also live in his gated community. “He looks frail and has a senior moment or three, losing his train of thought, repeating stories, and asking that a question or two be repeated.” Everyone in Beverly Hills seems to have a Redstone walking into a wall story. Redstone swims in the nude. And shaves — also in the nude — in his hot tub. Redstone monitors Viacom’s stock price on CNBC. Redstone: “The fact is, nothing really important can happen at either [Viacom or CBS] without me clearing it.” Redstone’s doubts about Freston started when he offered Freston the job: “When I offered the job to Tom that night, he said, ‘Sumner, I’m not comfortable being C.E.O. of Viacom. I’d rather just be C.E.O. of MTV Networks.'” Freston turned down the job. Redstone offered it to Les Moonves, who accepted. Freston changed his mind the next morning. Redstone ended up doing what any 8-year-old kid does in that situation — splits the company. Redstone on Freston’s inability to buy MySpace: “We lost that deal because Tom was too slow.” Paula Redstone, Sumner’s wife, may have had something to do with the firing of Cruise: “Paula, like women everywhere, had come to hate him … The truth of the matter is, I did listen to her, but I make business decisions myself.” When did Sumner decide to fire Cruise? “I don’t know. When he was on the Today show? When he was jumping on a couch at Oprah? He changed his handler, you know, to his sister — not a good idea. His behavior was entirely unacceptable to Paula, and to the rest of the world. He didn’t just turn one [woman] off. He turned off all women, and a lot of men. He was embarrassing the studio.”
[photo: Don Flood]