I’m told David Geffen is telling pals he did call up Sumner Redstone this morning and did suggest that the Viacom octogenarian hire Jeffrey Katzenberg to run the whole she-bang. (Of course, Freston’s fired body was barely even cold.) But that Redstone said, fuhgeddaboudit. (Really, Redstone is claiming he said “Forget it.”) If you’re a little slow, then you need to know that Redstone’s Viacom-controlled Paramount bought Dreamworks for a ridiculously overpriced amount, which just shows how persuasive Geffen usually is. And that nothing now would make David happier than to see a Paramount takeover of Dreamworks Animation as well (but that’s not happening for the time being since Paramount has a pact to distribute DreamWorks Animation movies for the next seven years). I hear Redstone even announced his AM conversation with Geffen. Jeez, ol’ Sumner isn’t going to be happy unless he publicly humiliates every last person in Hollywood. Personally, I think his arteries are clogged. The only other reason could be that Sumner wants to turn back control of Viacom under Freston back to Viacom under the Redstone Family. In his conference call today, Redstone noted that his daughter Shari, who’s Vice Chairman, has expanded duties, most of which are board-related. “She is designated to succeed me at that far distant future, 20 or 30 years from now.” What’d I tell ya: he thinks he’ll live forever.
UPDATE: So then Redstone adds insult to injury by reminding Geffen, Katzenberg et al that they’re already his employees (and, by implication, he can start treating them badly, too). Asked by the Hollywood Reporter‘s Diane Mermigas, “What about possibly going after the rest of DreamWorks Animation to bring Jeffrey Katzenberg to your overall studio operations as a creative spark?” Redstone responded, “I love Jeffrey Katzenberg, and I consider him a very able executive and a good friend. But if you recall, when we originally were presented with the DreamWorks deal, it was $1.5 billion, and I said that would not fly with me or the board. They were smart enough to find a way to make it feasible by selling the library, which we have a right to buy back in the future, and that brought the deal down to around $500 million. Having done that, I’m not going to go back and do the opposite now. In a way, Jeffrey and the other terrific executives there already are working for us because we acquired DreamWorks.”
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