“Go ahead baby girl, get you sip of that sh-t,” Snoop shouted as a member of his crew poured Patron from the stage into a young Viacom employee’s open mouth. Her coworkers passed around joints and spliffs given to them by the men onstage, who, with Snoop, had just minutes earlier thrown packages of marijuana into the crowd. A lot of packages. And they weren’t small.
“Shoutout to Viacom,” Snoop said. “It’s the bomb.”
The occasion was a party to celebrate the opening of Viacom’s new Hollywood headquarters, which employees of Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, and most of the company’s cable channels moved into two weeks ago from their old digs in Santa Monica. (Snoop Dogg, who performed ahead of rapper Flo Rida, is an ambassador for the Viacom brand, star of VH1’s “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” and executive producer of MTV’s “Mary + Jane.”) The new building features wide-open floor plans, foosball and ping-pong tables, snacks, couches, giant screens around every corner — all the things that one expects from a modern media workplace.
For Bakish, the company’s CEO, the most important feature is the view of the water tower at the Paramount lot just down the street.
“A big part of our future is better integrating Paramount into the company and connecting it more to the work we do across media brands,” Bakish said to hundreds of employees piled into the courtyard outside the building (many of whom were already baked-ish). Bakish was just named permanent CEO of Viacom last month, riding a wave of corporate tumult that saw Shari Redstone seize control of the company from ex-CEO Philippe Dauman amid a complex legal battle over her ailing father Sumner Redstone’s holdings. He took the stage to chants of “Bob! Bob! Bob!”
Shari Redstone, vice chair of the company’s board of directors, was on hand Thursday night as well — the first time many Viacom employees had seen her at such a function. (She attended a similar event at Nickelodeon’s new headquarters two weeks ago.) Paramount CEO Brad Grey also attended, but did not speak.
Redstone led with a self-deprecating joke: “Well, Bob had to follow Snoop, but I have to follow Snoop and Bob. That’s a challenge I’m not sure I’m up to.” But she followed with an energetic six-minute address in which she touched glancingly on the succession battle that had brought her there. “When I look at Viacom today, I could not be more pleased to see the re-emergence of that wonderful, incredible culture that has always been the linchpin of our success, and the renewed energy that all of you, every day bring to this company.”
“She’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!” one Viacomer was overheard telling another as she spoke. “I have chills!”
Los Angeles chief film liaison Kevin James followed Redstone, providing a downshift in energy. But then Flo Rida took the stage, supported by a platoon of backup dancers — and the smell of Snoop Dogg’s weed still in the air.