I don’t know whether Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone’s appearance at this morning’s 45-minute annual meeting will do enough to end the speculation that the 88-year-old majority shareholder is becoming frail. Although he showed up — something he briefly said last week that he couldn’t do, due to a scheduling conflict — attendees couldn’t see him walk to or from the dais. When the meeting began the company pulled back a curtain to show Redstone, CEO Philippe Dauman, and General Counsel Michael Fricklas seated at a table. The curtain closed on Redstone when the event ended. He appeared moderately engaged throughout the session, after reading from a prepared statement. Paraphrasing “my very good friend Mark Twain, who couldn’t be here today,” he said, “my absence from this meeting has been greatly exaggerated.”
Dauman then led the session. He said that Paramount yesterday greenlighted a 3D movie with singer Katy Perry, to be called Part Of Me, that will be released this summer. He also acknowledged that plans are in the works for another Mission: Impossible sequel. Dauman said that cable channel Nick Jr will introduce a “Nick Mom” evening programming block beginning this fall. And he says that he’s enthusiastic about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series launching on Nickelodeon later this year — to be followed by a Paramount film due out by the end of 2013. Dauman added that the company plans a global consumer products initiative for the franchise. “It’ll be a big hit,” he says.
Only two of the 200 or so attending shareholders asked questions. A woman urged Dauman to find a project for Timothy Olyphant, who she called “a hot actor.” The CEO said that he’d “pass that along to (Paramount chief) Brad Grey” — adding that Channing Tatum is also “a hot-looking guy.” Attendees were treated to the sight of Dauman bouncing to the dance beat of Perry’s tune “Part Of Me,” used in Viacom’s montage highlighting its products. Redstone also showed up in what appears to be his favorite new look: a white tie over a black shirt, as though he’s preparing to audition for the role of Nathan Detroit in a remake of Guys And Dolls.