THR: Paramount didn’t have a great year last year …
Redstone: Paramount is in a major turnaround right now. Dreamgirls has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. Babel has been nominated for (seven), including best picture. Steven Spielberg has a picture coming, Transformers. I’ve seen part of it, it is fantastic. Norbit opened to $34 million on its first weekend. You will see us rising from the bottom to the top or very near the top in the first six months of this year. We have a great leader in [Paramount Pictures CEO] Brad Grey. We think he is doing just about all the right things. Before I came to Germany, I saw him in London at the BAFTAS, where several of our pictures were nominated. He’s a great leader. I’ve always said what makes a difference between the winners and the losers is what management brings to the assets. And I believe we have the best management possible at Viacom, at CBS and at the studio.
THR: Looking to the future, what are the problems that worry you the most? What keeps you up at night?
Redstone: The only thing that keeps me up at night worrying is that I won’t be here tomorrow. I don’t stay up worrying because everything is really going well at CBS and Viacom and certainly at the studio.
THR: I have to ask about the Tom Cruise incident. Do you think the decision to break off your production agreement with Cruise/Wagner sent a signal to the industry about the power relationship between talent and the studios?
Redstone: Look, I didn’t intend to send a signal. I prefer not to talk about Tom Cruise, who is a great actor. It was just his behavior. It was at that time unacceptable. But if there was a message, it was this: We are paying the talent too much. I never talked to anyone at the company about that, I wouldn’t. Because it is not the talent that makes the movie, it is the script. The play’s the thing, as someone once said. And if you have a great script, the talent rushes to appear in it and not at too heavy a price.
THR: Does that mean you are paying more for your scripts?
Redstone: No comment.
THR: Are you ever going to retire?
Redstone: Of course not. You look very good now, but I hope when I see you again in 15 years you look as good as I do. Ultimately, the boards of each company will determine my successor, but they won’t have a chance to do that for a long time. My daughter (Shari) has been mentioned. She is very competent, but she is very busy with National Amusements, and I am not sure how much she wants it. As I said to her, ultimately the decision has to rest with the board to determine who the successor should be. And that is the way it should be.
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