Sumner Redstone, the media mogul who controls both CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., is slated to turn 92 next week. Before that event arrives, however, he is already getting a few things he may not want: heightened scrutiny of his health and questions over the ultimate direction of the media companies guided by his hand.
A flurry of press reports have surfaced in recent weeks suggesting Redstone’s physical health is not robust and raising questions about his relationship with members of his family, who are slated to inherit much of his wealth. He has developed trouble speaking in recent months, and is no longer a vocal presence on the quarterly calls with investors CBS and Viacom regularly hold. In the past, Redstone would take to the phone to introduce CBS CEO Leslie Moonves or Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman with glowing adjectives.
“Despite all the ink and bits expended over the last few weeks, there has been no change in Sumner’s health,” said Carl Folta, a spokesman for Viacom who has often served as a central figure in Redstone’s public outreach. Earlier this month, Redstone issued a statement saying he continued to guide his stakes in both media companies. ...
"No change in Sumner's health." Meaning what, exactly?
That it's shitty? Or that he's ruddy, robust, and swimming daily laps in the backyard pool?
From everything I've read, the man is not in good shape. Some reports have him attached to a feeding tube, others say he can't form a sentence that's decipherable to human ears. Almost all reports speculate on who succeeds Sumner Redstone at the levers of power.
What this means to Viacom's feature and TV animation units is unknowable, but there will likely be changes. Paramount Animation (on the Hollywood lot) has multiple features in development, and the first effort, an eighty-six minute amusement built around a cartoon character who lives at the bottom of the sea, did well at the box office.
Nickelodeon Cartoons, the studio headquartered in Burbank, is creating an array of hand-drawn and CG series for the cable outlet of the same name. A five-story office building is being built next door, and the prospects are good for more animated product and more synergy. But the prospects are also good that when Sumner rolls on to his reward, there will be new directions taken.