In a pointed move, Jeffrey Katzenberg-led DreamWorks Animation on Monday named Tom Freston to its board of directors.
Announcement is a clear act of defiance against Viacom, from which Freston was famously fired as CEO by Sumner Redstone last fall.
DreamWorks Animation pics are distribbed by Viacom-owned Paramount under a deal that extends through 2013.
DWA has been a separate company from the DreamWorks live-action studio since it went public in 2004 but has been caught up in the tension between its former corporate sibling and its new owner Paramount.
Katzenberg took a jab at comments by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman last week that the potential departures of DreamWorks partners David Geffen and Steven Spielberg from Paramount would be “completely immaterial” to his conglom’s bottom line.
Speaking the next day at the same media conference, Katzenberg called the statement “ill-advised.”
He took pains, however, to note that Paramount has thus far done an “outstanding job” marketing and distributing DWA toons like “Shrek 3.”
Not coincidentally, Geffen and Spielberg are both major shareholders in DreamWorks Animation and sit on the toon studio’s board.
Freston will take the spot recently vacated by Microsoft mogul Paul Allen, who has sold off much of his DreamWorks Animation stock.
No word on whether Tom Cruise will be joining the board next.