Shari’s Heirloom Sale & Iger’s Peltz Defense

The Redstone family’s 10 percent economic stake in Paramount Global is now worth $1.1 billion.
The Redstone family’s 10 percent economic stake in Paramount Global is now worth $1.1 billion. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
December 10, 2023

As someone who has written about Sumner Redstone and his foibles extensively over the years—including the pieces that opened the door for Sumner’s daughter, Shari, to return to the company and to run it with an iron fist—I can’t help but think that Sumner would be more than a little bit dismayed by the potential denouement of the company he assembled so carefully during his lifetime. 

After taking control of National Amusements, the family’s New England-based movie theater chain, Sumner started to build his media empire. In 1987, he bought Viacom, which owned MTV among other pioneering cable channels, for $3.4 billion in cash. Seven years later, he outlasted billionaire media moguls Barry Diller and John Malone to buy Paramount Communications, what used to be called the conglomerate Gulf & Western, for $10.1 billion. As part of the deal for Paramount, Sumner ended up with the Paramount movie studio. (When I was at Lazard, I worked on the Viacom/Paramount deal, which at the time was one of the largest, and highest-profile combinations, given the battle royale that ensued to win it.)