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Viacom Inc.'s Sumner Redstone files for divorce

October 21, 2008 |  5:33 pm

Redstonepaula4

UPDATE: A spokesman for Sumner Redstone issued the following statement: “After five and a half years together, we have amicably ended our marriage.  While this is a difficult decision for both of us, we remain close and supportive friends and are committed to each other's continued happiness and success. We will have no further comment and hope that you will respect our privacy. "

Sumner Redstone has filed for divorce from his wife of five years, Paula Fortunato, citing irreconcilable differences. The court papers were submitted Friday, Oct. 17, in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The two were married in April 2003. The couple's prenuptial agreement stipulates that the 46-year-old Fortunato will receive at least $5 million, or $1 million for each year that she has been wed to the media mogul, according to people who are familiar with terms of the couple's agreement.

Redstone, 85, has been telling friends for weeks that his marriage to Fortunato, 46, was ending. But despite the divorce filing on Friday, the troubled couple continued to socialize together through the weekend with several current and former Paramount executives, including the studio's current chairman, Brad Grey.  Paula Redstone has since left their mansion in the gated private enclave of Beverly Park that sits high above Beverly Hills to visit family in New York and New Jersey.

Any divorce settlement would come out of Sumner Redstone’s own pocket, and not his family's Boston-based business, National Amusements Inc., said two people close to the firm. National Amusements is caught in a credit squeeze and Redstone's daughter, Shari Redstone, who runs the company, is trying to restructure its nearly $1.6-billion debt load, including an $800-million bank loan that is due in mid-December. Sumner Redstone controls 80% of National Amusements; his daughter holds the remaining 20%. If National Amusements is unable to come to an agreement with bankers, it might have to sell off more shares of Viacom Inc. or CBS Corp., two publicly traded companies that Redstone controls, to pay down the debt.

The Beverly Hills law firm representing Sumner Redstone, Kaufman, Young, Spiegel, Robinson & Kenerson, declined to comment.

The merger of Fortunato, a former third-grade teacher in New York City, and Redstone culminated after a blind date arranged by a mutual friend and executive at Bear Stearns & Co, according to the couple's 2003 wedding announcement in the New York Times.  It is worth noting that Bear Stearns also did not survive.

   -- Claudia Eller and Meg James   

Photo: Paula Fortunato and Sumner Redstone by Chris Pizzello/Associated Press   

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