×

Sumner Redstone Opposes Sale of Paramount Stake: Report

Sumner Redstone has expressed his opposition to Viacom’s plan to sell a minority stake in Paramount Pictures to help revive the studio’s fortunes, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported Monday that Redstone had expressed his unhappiness with the plan announced in February by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman to seek a strategic partner for the studio. Dauman has said Paramount was seeking a minority partner that could help the studio with international expansion or on the digital front. He’s said he expects to close a deal by the end of June.

The Journal reported that Dauman initially believed he received Redstone’s blessing for the sale but that Redstone has since told others including Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey that he is opposed to selling any interest in the studio that he acquired after a hard-fought corporate takeover battle in 1994. The Journal also cites unnamed sources noting that Redstone did not raise the issue at a Viacom board meeting in February.

“The process continues,” a Viacom spokesman said late Monday.

The prospect of Redstone opposing Dauman’s plan for Paramount adds another layer of intrigue to the drama surrounding Viacom as its controlling shareholder grapples with failing health. Redstone was replaced as chairman of Viacom in February by Dauman amid an outcry from investors about the state of his mental and physical capacities. He became chairman emeritus of Viacom, and underwent the same transition at CBS Corp.

But Redstone is still believed to have an iron grip on Viacom and CBS through his ownership of preferred shares that give him about 80% of the voting control in both Viacom and CBS. That raises the possibility of Redstone moving to block Dauman, his longtime lawyer and confidant, or perhaps in an extreme scenario even seek to remove him as CEO. The Redstone-Dauman relationship has been so close over the past three decades that Dauman is a member of the trust that will oversee Redstone’s holdings after his death. And until just recently Dauman had control of medical decisions for Redstone as his health care agent. That authority has since been transferred to Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, who has clashed with Dauman on management decisions involving Viacom.

The control of Sumner Redstone’s medical decisions sparked a lawsuit last year by Manuela Herzer, a former Redstone companion who had served as his health care agent until she was replaced last October by Dauman and removed from Redstone’s Beverly Park mansion. The suit raised the curtain on Sumner Redstone’s messy private life, his failing health and questions about the future management of Viacom and CBS Corp. after his death. Sumner Redstone’s legal team is now in the midst of hammering out a settlement agreement with Herzer.

A rep for Shari Redstone declined to comment on Journal report.

Dauman’s move to seek a strategic investor in Paramount came after calls from investors, including Mario Gabelli, to breathe new life into the asset by a sale to Alibaba or another Chinese conglom that is eager to invest in Hollywood assets. Viacom told the Journal last month that more than three dozen prospective buyers have come forth since Dauman announced the sale plan on Feb. 23 and he reiterated his focus on partners who could aid the studio with international operations or digital technology.

More Film

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • Stuber Movie

    Disney Left With a Slate of Film Flops After Fox Deal

    Is Disney having buyer’s remorse? The studio would be forgiven if it were having some regrets after absorbing 20th Century Fox, the company that once generated big box office with the likes of “Avatar,” “Life of Pi,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” After “Dark Phoenix” bombed earlier this summer, Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista’s action comedy “Stuber” [...]

  • Taika Waititi Returning to Direct 'Thor

    Taika Waititi to Direct Marvel's 'Thor 4'

    Taika Waititi is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The filmmaker will write and direct the sequel to his 2017 blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok.” Waititi’s take on the fourth “Thor” movie puts Warner Bros.’ long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely. However, the studio hopes that “Akira” can get resume production with Waititi at the helm once [...]

  • Akira

    'Akira' Production Put on Hold by Warner Bros.

    Warner Bros. has put its long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely, sources tell Variety. Sources indicate that after a brief delay, the studio has pulled the plug on production indefinitely for the classic anime adaptation, which was set to begin later this fall. “Thor: Ragnarok” helmer Taika Waititi was on board to direct, and the [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco Green Book

    Sebastian Maniscalco Moves Into Movies With 'Green Book' and 'The Irishman'

    As a comedian whose routines not only lampoon Italian stereotypes but demand larger-than-life performances of those cultural peccadilloes, Sebastian Maniscalco has carefully — if inadvertently — created a niche for himself as an actor. In 2018, in between selling out shows at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, he took his first steps [...]

  • Erin Westerman

    Lionsgate Promotes Erin Westerman to President of Motion Picture Production

    Lionsgate has promoted veteran executive Erin Westerman to the post of president of production of its Motion Picture Group. Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake and motion picture group president Nathan Kahane made the announcement Tuesday. The post has been vacant since earlier this year, when it was held as a co-presidency by Peter Kang [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content