Redstones Still Dysfunctional, Earth Still Revolving

Whenever you come across news of the Redstone family, you take it for granted that it will be sordid and dysfunctional. Case in point: The fact that the Los Angeles Times took nearly 900 words to describe the fact that Shari Redstone and Sumner Redstone hate each other’s guts.

Money quotes from the piece:

A) Sumner likes playing hardball.

All substantive talks between the two camps have come to a grinding halt, according to people close to father and daughter who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. The media chief is in no hurry to make a move, said a person close to him, adding that Sumner is content to have issues of succession decided after his death.

The media mogul appears to have all the leverage. Although he could buy out his daughter’s 20% stakes in CBS and Viacom, there is nothing compelling him to do so since he controls both companies.

B) They’re at least decent enough to cool down for family occasions.

But in August the Redstones privately agreed to a cooling-off period until after the Labor Day weekend, when Shari’s 25-year-old daughter, Kimberlee, was to be married. Sumner and his wife, Paula, attended the Sept. 2 ceremony at the Inter-Continental Boston Hotel, where heart-shaped fireworks lit up the Boston Harbor. One guest said that although there were no fireworks between Sumner and Shari during the lavish event, the pair weren’t exactly cozy. “There was peace, but they basically didn’t speak to each other all weekend,” said one person, who asked to remain anonymous because the wedding was a private family affair. The person said the elder Redstone laid low, neither toasting the bride and groom nor playing any other ceremonial role. A person close to Sumner said he and Shari “hugged each other.”

C) In case you haven’t forgotten, Sumner’s alienated most of his family.

The root of the Redstones’ feud, according to people close to the company, was Shari’s efforts to increase the number of independent directors and outside oversight on the Viacom and CBS boards. Her insistence on instituting performance-driven compensation also is said to have set her father off. If Shari and Sumner ultimately sever their ties, she would join a long list of Redstones who have left the family business after feuding with the iron-willed patriarch. Sumner recently settled a lawsuit brought against him by his son Brent; another, filed by nephew Michael D. Redstone, was dismissed in July. Years ago, his brother Edward S. Redstone also left Viacom after a legal tangle with his sibling.

Never a dull minute with that family.