×

Ousted Viacom Director: Shari Redstone Acting as ‘Puppet Master’ of Sumner

The promised legal challenge to Sumner Redstone’s move to replace five Viacom board members takes  hard aim at Shari Redstone, accusing of her acting as the “puppet master” of her mogul father.

The suit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court calls the decision unveiled Thursday by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements an “invalid” exercise that runs counter to Redstone’s long-standing plan for the transfer of his estate after his death.

Frederic Salerno, Viacom’s lead independent director and one of those to be replaced, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the ousted directors. The suit asks the court to invalidate National Amusements’ five new board appointments and to bar Shari Redstone “from taking further wrongful actions under the direct or indirect authority of Sumner M. Redstone.”

The complaint casts the dispute as entirely a power play orchestrated by Shari Redstone at the expense of her father, who no longer has the mental capacity to make such significant decisions about the company. The elder Redstone has iron-clad control of Viacom and CBS Corp. through his ownership of nearly 80% of the voting interest in both companies.

“Shari now seeks to become Mr. Redstone’s puppet master, pulling his strings behind the scenes to improperly seize control of Viacom,” according to the complaint. “In doing so, Shari is attempting to use her father’s control to dismantle his own estate plan to serve her personal interests. Her attempt to do so, however, is based on exercising undue influence over her defenseless father and/or manipulating him to purportedly exercise authority when he was not mentally competent to have done so.”

Moreover, the suit accuses Shari Redstone of breaching her fiduciary duty as a director of Viacom by pursuing her agenda at the expense of shareholders.

“These actions have affirmatively harmed the public stockholders, who collectively hold an approximate 90% equity interest in Viacom,” the complaint states. “This is precisely the type of harm Mr. Redstone, through his longstanding estate plan, sought to avoid.”

A rep for Shari Redstone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More TV

  • Jenny Wall Eryk Casemiro Nickelodeon

    Jenny Wall Named Nickelodeon CMO, Eryk Casemiro Named Senior VP of Nickelodeon Preschool

    Nickelodeon has hired two new executives, tapping Jenny Wall to become chief marketing officer and Eryk Casemiro to become senior vice president of Nickelodeon Preschool. Most recently CMO at Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, Wall will be responsible for all on- and off-air consumer marketing, brand creative and content launches across all of Nickelodeon’s platforms, including Nicktoons, [...]

  • Liz Garbus on Why We May

    Liz Garbus on Why The World May Never Know 'Who Killed Garrett Phillips'

    By the time Liz Garbus’s two-part documentary “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” debuts on HBO, there could be a new public lead in the case of the murdered titular 12-year-old. As least, that’s what many may hope after the new St. Lawrence County district attorney admitted a new tip earlier this spring. Garbus says she would [...]

  • Mike Fleiss

    'Bachelor' Producers in Wait-and-See Mode Amid Police Probe Into Fleiss Incident

    Those working on “The Bachelor” and its sister shows are in wait-and-see mode as a domestic incident involving creator Mike Fleiss continues to be investigated in Kauai, according to sources close to production. The results of the police investigation are still pending, after Fleiss’ wife, Laura Fleiss, had accused him of attacking her in their [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Cable Blackouts Growing More Common, Even If Subscribers Get Angry

    Among media companies, “going dark” was once a matter of last resort. Now it’s an option that is seeing more light. CBS is not currently available on DirecTV or AT&T’s U-verse, the result of a battle over how much the two outlets’ owner, AT&T, ought to pay for the right to send CBS into millions [...]

  • maria elena salinas

    CBS News Names Maria Elena Salinas Contributor

    Maria Elena Salinas, one of the best-known anchors in Spanish-language broadcasting, will join CBS News as a contributor, Susan Zirinsky, the unit’s president, told staffers Monday. Salinas stepped down from her role at Univision at the end of 2017 after an on-air tenure of more than three decades. She is expected to contribute reports across [...]

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content