“A big part of our future is integrating Paramount better into the company and connecting it more to the work we do across media brands,” said Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish to employees tonight at the raucous christening of the company’s new West Coast Media Network Headquarters on the corner of Sunset and Gower.
It was an opening that also brought out Viacom board of directors Vice Chair Shari Redstone and Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey, who stood on the sidelines as his two bosses spoke to their hundreds of employees at the new 210,000-square-foot, six-story building situated on the site of the original CBS Studios.
Both Flo Rida and Rapper Snoop Dogg fired up Viacom employees from eight of the company’s major brands in front of the building. Snoop Dogg blew marijuana smoke into the crowd and passed around joints as he sang some of his best-known music. His manager even poured straight tequila into the mouths of willing employees as the music pumped up the crowd. During a short but high-energy set from Flo Rida, the rapper was carried into the crowd of employees who were jumping and singing along to his hits including “My House.” He also pulled Viacom employees out of the audience to dance with him as he sang the song that launched him: “Low.”
After the initial 45-minute set from Snoop Dogg, Bakish took the stage, cutting through the smoke and making a joke about Snoop Dogg needing oxygen. He then lauded everyone involved in the building project housing Viacom’s 850 employees. He noted that the building “met the highest environmental standards” which was wildly applauded.
“Viacom’s heritage of being socially aware and responsible is literally in the brick and mortar of this place,” said Bakish. “What you create burns bright and can be seen all over the world … so thank you for your incredible work.” He said he will be spending more time in Los Angeles at the building (which also contains a whopping 83 conference rooms and state-of-the-art video technology). He also told the employees: “No one, and I know this for sure, no one is more committed to giving you the tools you need to succeed” than Shari Redstone.
Redstone then took to the mic, impassioned about the future of Viacom which has gone through its fair share of turmoil in the past several months with board room tug-of-wars and the ousting of top executives. Her genuinely enthusiastic speech to employees had them cheering and applauding.
“Never before have we been more focused on strengthening our brand, creating great content across multiple platforms, having a home for all of you here today to inspire you for what you do best … and most important … and it really is most important … embracing that culture of collaboration, support and innovation which is where it all begins,” she said to her employees from MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Spike, TV Land, CMT and Logo.
The employees on hand were Donald Trump’s worst nightmare: a sea of diversity from labels BET to Logo, and from Hispanic to Caucasian united in one place.
“When I look at Viacom today, I could not be more pleased to see the re-emergence of that wonderful, incredible culture that has always been the linchpin of our success,” Redstone said. She also honored her father Sumner for bringing to the company “his vision to build the best media company in the world … I hope you all agree that we are well on our way to doing just that and we will do just that. Together.”
She thanked the employees for everything they have done for the company and said, “I promise you one thing: The best is yet to come.”