×

Philippe Dauman Demands Immediate Medical Evaluation of Sumner Redstone

UPDATED: More shots were fired in the battle for control of Viacom on Monday, as CEO Philippe Dauman and director George Abrams urged a Massachusetts judge to approve an immediate medical evaluation of Sumner Redstone.

The two men are challenging their removal from the Redstone family trust and the board of National Amusements, the movie theater company that owns controlling stakes in Viacom and CBS. They contend that Sumner Redstone is not mentally competent to oust them from the trust and was manipulated into doing so by his daughter, Shari Redstone.

“Time is of the essence,” according to the latest legal filing, painting a portrait of Redstone as a man who is near death. The mogul suffers from dementia, and is unable to stand, walk, read or eat on his own, according to the filing, which claims that Redstone was recently hospitalized.

“The life expectancy of a reasonably healthy 93-year-old man is limited and unpredictable,” write attorneys for Dauman and Abrams. “The life expectancy for a 93-year-old with such serious health conditions is even more limited and unpredictable.”

“There is grave risk that Sumner Redstone will not be available to provide any evidence in this case,” they add.

As Redstone’s health declines, Shari Redstone and Dauman have found themselves in opposing camps. Their hostility spilled out into the open last winter, after Shari Redstone opposed Dauman’s elevation to the chairmanship of Viacom.

Dauman was once among Redstone’s most trusted lieutenants, a man that the Viacom mogul routinely praised on earnings calls as the “wisest” person he’d ever known. However, his tenure atop Viacom has been sharply criticized by investors and analysts.

The media company’s cable properties, a group that includes Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon, have taken ratings hits. They have been hurt by the loss of top talent such as Jon Stewart and the migration of younger viewers to online platforms. At the same time, the company’s film studio, Paramount, has also suffered declining market share after a period when it slashed the number of films it releases. It now is attempting to increase its output, but is struggling to compete with rivals such as Universal and Disney that boast better franchises. Dauman is trying to orchestrate the sale of a minority stake in Paramount, something that attorneys for Redstone say he opposes.

Last week, Redstone’s camp released a statement that the mogul believes Dauman is doing a “bad job” of running Viacom. The opinions were offered during May 20 and May 24 examinations by Dr. James Spar, a geriatric psychiatrist, who told the court that he found Redstone to be “alert and in no distress.”

In Monday’s legal filings, Dauman and Abrams’ team argues that Dr. Spar’s examination was flawed, calling it “one-sided, uncross-examined and distorted.” They note that the doctor’s account of the examination reads like an interview, despite the fact that Redstone is unable to “meaningfully” speak.

Redstone’s advisory team hit back, noting that Dr. Spar has authored books and articles on mental capacity and saying that the doctor will be deposed if the case proceeds.

“Sumner Redstone is physically stable, engaged with legal counsel, and participating in strategic decisions,” Redstone’s advisory team said in a statement. “He’s making his views clear, as Dr. James Spar indicates in his report filed with the court…We look forward to upcoming legal proceedings, so the truth can come out.”

Last week, Redstone’s camp said that a majority of trustees had approved the removal of Dauman and Abrams from the trust, but attorneys for the Viacom CEO and the director say their ratification has no legal significance. Only Sumner Redstone can make that decision while he is alive.

“The Trust instrument in no way provides that anyone else, including any of the trustees, has the power to remove trustees at a time when Mr. Redstone lacks capacity,” the filing reads.

Calling Shari Redstone, the mogul’s “estranged” daughter, the Dauman and Abrams filing goes on to assert that she is attempting a power grab. Redstone wanted “independent and professional management” of his companies, the men contend. The vote by the trustees is an attempt by Shari Redstone “to achieve the very control of the companies she was long denied,” the filing claims.

More TV

  • Emmys: 'Better Call Saul' Short Loses

    'Better Call Saul' Short Loses Emmy Nominations in Light of Category Rule Violation

    Better Call AMC: Two Emmy nominations for the network’s short-form series “Better Call Saul Employee Training: Madrigal Electromotive Security” have been pulled after it was deemed ineligible for competition. The Television Academy recently discovered that the series didn’t meet the minimum required runtime of two minutes for at least six episodes — a new stipulation [...]

  • The Boys Amazon Prime

    ‘The Boys’ Lands Early Season 2 Renewal at Amazon

    Amazon has renewed “The Boys” for a second season ahead of the show’s series premiere next week. The streamer also announced that Aya Cash will join the show in the second season. Season 1 of “The Boys” will debut on July 26. It is based on the New York Times best-selling comic of the same [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • DEAR WHITE PEOPLE

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases Season 3 Trailer For 'Dear White People'

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix releases a trailer for the third season of “Dear White People,” and Disney casts Billy Campbell and Kathy Najimy in upcoming Disney Junior series, “The Rocketeer.” CASTING Billy Campbell and Kathy Najimy have joined the cast of forthcoming animated series “The Rocketeer.” The seasoned actors will voice character Kitana [...]

  • Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The

    Andrew Lincoln's ‘Walking Dead’ Movies to Be Released Only in Theaters

    The first planned movie centered on “The Walking Dead” character Rick Grimes will now run in theaters rather than on AMC. The announcement was made with a brief teaser video played at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, with the video ending with the words “Only in Theaters.” The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content