The King of Content: Sumner Redstone’s Battle for Viacom, CBS, and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire
This is the messy story of the tail end of Sumner Redstone’s life and the struggle for control of his companies: National Amusements, and, by acquisition, Viacom and Paramount.
And it really is the story of the end of Redstone’s life. Not even halfway through the book, he turns 60. At about the halfway point, he’s 79. And then the rest of the book is what happens up until the book’s publication in 2018, when he would have been 95.
The end was very messy, as was his entire personal life. He was unfaithfully and poorly married for a long time, and after that ended, he had a string of complicated affairs, culminating in two women living in his home and “caring” for him when he was arguably incompetent. Large parts of the book concern the legal wrangling with these two women regarding whether they should have control of his health and his fortune.
Additionally, Redstone had very poor relationships with his two children. His daughter, Shari, battles with him for control of the company – a battle she won, as she is currently the chairperson of ViacomCBS. He was sued multiple times by both of his children. Apparently, he openly stated that he “hated” his daughter.
As the book ends, Redstone could hardly speak, and was receiving 24-hour nursing care. His empire continued on without him with Shari at the helm.
He died in 2020 at 97, two years after the book published.
Redstone was only really loyal to one thing in his life: his company. All his romantic and parental relationships were objective failures.
I don’t know what was going on in his head, and his public statements always had the veneer of showmanship, but you have to wonder if he thought it was worth it.