It’s true that CBS and National Amusements solidly agree in their pitched lawsuit for corporate control that a recent video of Sumner Redstone should not be seen by the public. Yet, the still Les Moonves run company is very clear that there is no way the footage of the mainly hidden from view nonagenarian should be tossed from the case, as the Shari Redstone run holding company wants.
“The CBS Parties submit that the video will permit the Court to better appreciate the irreconcilable positions taken by the NAI Parties with respect to Mr. Redstone and his control over NAI,” lawyers from Wilmington’s Ross Aronstam & Moritz said late yesterday in a response filing in Delaware’s Court of Chancery (read it here).
As Moonves weaves around allegations of sexual misconduct from six women in a July 27 New Yorker piece, duel investigations and boardroom battles, CBS Corp succinctly tore into its ruling shareholder’s August 7 assertions of underhand motivations and illegally filming the 95-year old Redstone by board member Arnold Kopelson.
“The NAI Parties’ accusations that Mr. Kopelson supposedly broke the law by taking the video in plain view of Mr. Redstone and his nurses are baseless,” the five-page submission bluntly states.”They are not supported by an affidavit from Mr. Redstone or anyone else,” it adds, noting the often noticed absence of the elder Redstone from actions declared in his name.
“Rather, the record on this issue is clear and confirms that Mr. Kopelson committed no crime: Mr. Kopelson held his iPhone in plain view, with several nurses present, to record an attempted conversation and memorialize the physical condition and speech of his close friend of over 17 years,” the CBS response to wide ranging claims made on Tuesday against itself and the presumed besieged board member, who has said that Shari Redstone wanted him out. “If anything were to be struck, it should be the NAI Parties’ unsupported and harassing accusation against Mr. Kopelson.”
Shot in January this year at the elder Redstone’s LA residence, the video first officially surfaced in a filing by CBS in the May 14 instigated suit on July 31. Despite NAI assertions that Sumner Redstone responded to and signed a verification of interrogatory responses in the matter presented to him by Shari Redstone attorney and CBS board member Robert Klieger, CBS contends that the obviously greatly reduced 95-year old is “incapable of communicating his views on this case.”
An August 6 letter to the court from a Wall Street Journal reporter seeking to have the video unsealed seems to have kick started NAI into wanting the Redstone footage to completely disappear from the lawsuit.
A stance that CBS made a mildly cheeky point of noting in its most recent filing.
“In light of the NAI Parties’ litigation strategy and shifting positions on control,” CBS’ Delaware lawyers say that “the video recording is relevant to, among other issues, the NAI Parties’ assertions and representations that: a) Ms. Redstone does not effectively control NAI; b) Mr. Redstone verified his interrogatory responses; c) Mr. Redstone approved the 90% Bylaw; and d) notwithstanding his alleged and knowing participation in underlying events, Mr. Redstone cannot be deposed, even under the ‘Klieger method.'”
Put before the court at 11:27 PM EDT last night, CBS’ pushback against NAI’s efforts also comes as NAI latest amended complaint on the case putting an added spotlight on CBS COO and potential Moonves successor Joe Ianniello. Not unexpectedly, as players on both sides jockey for grander positions in what could be a long haul, today also saw more rumors of the younger Redstone looking to replace the under investigation Moonves.
Additionally a new twist came in court in Delaware on Wednesday that unveiled potential restrictions on who could eventually own Viacom or CBS and how much of it. Having come out in a testy exchange between lawyers on both sides, a provision seems to be buried in the family trust that stipulates after the death of Sumner Redstone the Redstone trust will retain up to 30% of an acquired CBS or Viacom or any other NAI dominated entity. Neither CBS nor NAI would provide more details on the provision or its history.
Which is another way of saying, the wolves bark and the caravan slowly moves on, for now.